Ever since Little Red Riding Hood went prancing off into the woods only to come across an anthropomorphic wolf with a penchant for cross-dressing, werewolf stories have permeated popular culture like a fart in a crowded room. Unfortunately, the number of good werewolf movies can be counted on one hand. Lycanthropes are often the subject of some of the worst films this side of Plan 9 from Outer Space.
Here are few werewolf films (both good and bad) to get you in the mood for Halloween:
Project: Metalbeast – 1995
What’s it about: In 1974, as part of a secret government program, an American agent injects himself with werewolf blood. Unsurprisingly, he turns into a savage beast and is put down with a flurry of silver bullets. The government, afraid to throw anything away for fear that they might need it later, places the body in suspended animation.
Flash forward 20 years and Anne De Carlo (Kim Delaney) has developed a medical breakthrough that can successfully graft metal skin onto burn victims. Because nothing makes you feel better about having all your skin burnt off then looking like Dr. Doom.
Unfortunately, the government (as personified by Spin City‘s Barry Bostwick) has other plans for De Carlo’s scientific discovery. Thawing out the frozen werewolf, the government gives it metal skin!
The government then proceeds to act shocked when the werewolf stalks and kills the scientists who operated on it, impervious to the puny silver bullets that bounce off its now metal skin.
Life lesson: No matter how good of an idea it might seem at the time, never ever give a horrible bloodthirsty monster bulletproof skin. Nine out of 10 mad scientists will agree that it isn’t necessary to give additional invulnerabilities to a supernatural killing machine. They do plenty fine on their own.
Should You Watch It: If you’re lucky enough to have a chance to catch Project: Metalbeast on television or find it in the bargain rental section of your favorite video store, you would be well advised to watch it. After experiencing 92 minutes of pure bulletproof-werewolf-cheese, every other day of your life will glow with a newly increased splendor. Metalbeast will give you a new standard by which to judge misfortune. You say you had the worst day ever? You could be watching Project: Metalbeast again. It’s all hyperbole until you’ve had the experience of watching a bulletproof werewolf eat the mayor from Spin City.
Howling III: The Marsupials – 1987
What’s it about: In the third film in the Howling franchise, the horror is taken to the Australian outback as Professor Harry Beckmeyer (Barry Otto) discovers a new breed of human-like marsupial shape-shifters. As he begins to explore their world, he falls in love with a Russian ballerina werewolf (Carole Skinner).
Meanwhile, Jerboa (Imogen Annesley), a young member of the marsupial werewolf tribe, seeks a way out of her savage life and becomes a young starlet in a horror film. While working the casting couch, she encounters and falls in love with a young producer’s assistant (Leigh Biolos) and, together, the two of them prepare for the birth of their child.
Unfortunately, before they can buy a babybjorn, the star-crossed lovers must escape from Australian government factions that wish to capture the lycanthropes for study.
Oh, and the werewolves have pouches on their bellies. ‘Nuff said.
Life lesson: As Jerboa gives birth to her baby, audiences are given an educational trip through the birth cycle of marsupials. The creature (a Joey?) Jerboa gives birth to is no larger than a mouse (during filming, the director actually did use a mouse in a werewolf costume to capture the baby’s movements). Once born, the child crawls up Jerboa and into a pouch attached to her stomach. It is in her skin purse that the baby continues its growth cycle. With the use of puppetry, audiences get a glimpse of the child as it forms in Jerboa’s pouch, growing into something that resembles a cross between a Gelfling from The Dark Crystal and a hairless Furby. All of this helps cement the fact that the birth process is gross.
Should You Watch It: The only way I can recommend Howling III: The Marsupials in good faith is if you have extreme masochistic tendencies or are extremely desperate for a family friendly werewolf film that does not star Michael J. Fox.
For a great April Fools’ prank, tell a friend that you found the greatest film ever. Invite your friend over to your place, handcuff him to a chair, pop in Howling III and watch as he gnaws at his own wrist in an attempt to escape from perhaps the worst marsupial werewolf film ever made.
The Monster Squad – 1987
What’s it about: A group of misfit children start a club dedicated to monsters.
Coincidentally, at the exact same time, in the exact same city, Dracula has just returned to Earth and started a club dedicated to monsters eating people. Bringing together a collection of his monstrous friends (including the Wolf Man), the bloodsucker devises a plan to rule the world.
The only thing that stands in their way is the Goonies – I mean, the Monster Squad.
Life lesson: At one point in the movie, the young heroes have a heated debate about the various ways that you can dispatch a werewolf. One of the methods suggested — kicking the Wolfman in the nards — is ultimately dismissed due to the fact that a werewolf does not have nards.
In a climactic scene, the fate of the world comes down to getting past a very angry, very hungry werewolf. A well-placed kick by a scared child proves once and for all that werewolves do, in fact, have “nards” that can be kicked.
Should You Watch It: Even though the film is obviously meant to imitate the success of The Goonies, The Monster Squad is an enjoyable film in its own right. Full of excellent one-liners, cheesy (yet oddly appropriate) special effects and other ‘80s goodness, the film is a nostalgic trip down memory lane. If you can find a copy, savor it.
Robert Saucedo is an avid movie watcher with seriously poor sleeping habits. The Mikey from Life cereal of film fans, Robert will watch just about anything — good, bad or ugly. He has written about film for newspapers, radio and online for the last 10 years. This has taken a toll on his sanity — of that you can be sure. Follow him on Twitter at @robsaucedo2500.