The Real Wolfman – DVD Review

I thought this was The Real Wolfman, not The Odd Couple Go Monster Hunting. The “Odd Couple” I’m referring to here are criminal profiler George Deucher and cryptozoologist Ken Gerhardt, and they travel to France to solve a two hundred year-old mystery from the French village of Gevaudan.

In the mid-1700s Gevaudan was terrorized by a string of grisly murders. 102 villagers, mostly women and children, were mauled, decapitated, and in some cases sexually assaulted by some sort of beast. Royal hunters and a battalion of French troops were sent into the area to destroy the beast. It wasn’t until a local farmer armed with a rifle loaded with silver bullets decided to take matters into his own hands that the killings stopped. The savagery of the killings and the near supernatural way the beast evaded capture make this one of the most famous alleged werewolf attacks in history; Deucher and Gerhardt aim to uncover the real story behind the myth.

As the old saying goes, when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail, and that holds true for these two werewolf hunters. Deucher is convinced that a serial killer committed the Gevaudan killings, while Gerhardt believes that it was some kind of undiscovered animal; perhaps a prehistoric hyena. They spend the majority of the program bickering over whose theory is correct. At one point, in order to prove his point and defend his field, Gerhardt pulls up internet video of some cop in Texas chasing down an unusual-looking animal (supposedly a Chupacabra). Forgiving the fact that he’s using a video from the internet, Gerhardt’s evidence is doubly dubious given that the animal in the footage was later proved to be a hairless raccoon. Deucher is just as bad. I particularly love how pissy he gets about the lack of good police records from a small village in the French countryside in the 1700s.

The conclusions they come to are interesting, to say the least. In fact, one line of thought they pursue sounds a lot like the French movie Brotherhood of the Wolf (which was about the Gevaudan werewolf attacks). At the end they leave Gevaudan with an undeserved sense of accomplishment given that they come up with a lot of conjecture but no real evidence to back up any of it.

The evidence they do come up with is spotty at best. In order to prove that Jean Chastel (the farmer credited with stopping the beast with a silver bullet) could not have killed it they set up an experiment at a firing range to test the accuracy and destructive power of silver bullets. The only problem with this experiment is that they use modern bullets and a modern rifle, not a period accurate musket and ball. It could very well be that this makes no difference in the long run but it’s poor science. I shudder to think what the Mythbusters would think if they saw the experiment.

This was a laughable investigation, and while I found the story of what happened at Gevaudan fascinating, everything else in this program was just silly and not at all groundbreaking considering their conclusion could have been stolen from Brotherhood of the Wolf. Poor science and poor investigative practices make this a poor program.

The program was presented in full screen with the audio in Dolby Digital stereo. No subtitles are provided for non-English speakers or the hearing impaired.

Given that I think the Wikipedia page has more accurate information on the beast of Gevaudan than this program, I can’t really recommend this. I think it’s safe to say that the truth behind these killings is safe for the time being.

A&E Television Networks presents The Real Wolfman. Starring George Deucher and Ken Gerhardt. Written by Carsten Oblaender. Running time: 94 minutes. Rated NR. Released on DVD: February 9, 2010. Available at Amazon.

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