Werewolf (review by Doug Smith)
Not even Leonard Maltin wants to touch this one. Released in 1996, “Werewolf” takes a new spin on the whole lycanthrope mythology by making it a part of Native American folklore. So not only did we steal their land and terrorize their people, we’re now making them look like a bunch of ninnies with lame legends. It’s still basically the same deal; guy gets a penetrating wound by an already infected skeleton and turns into a drooling, ravenous beast when the full moon comes out. About the only difference is a silver bullet isn’t necessary to kill them. Seems they’re pretty susceptible to just about anything … so if you’re ever threatened by one, just swat him with a rolled up newspaper.
Jorge Rivero, master of multiple hairstyles and famous star of “Man in the Golden Mask vs. The Invisible Assassin” plays the drunken, scheming, and just generally annoying Yuri. Richard Lynch, who’s starred in way, way too many movies that have been featured on The Sci-Fi Channel, plays Noel, the grandmotherly chief archaeologist. Federico Cavalli has his first and last (gee, I wonder why…) on screen role as writer/werewolf Paul Niles. Adrianna Miles can’t decide which accent she’d like to use as assistant archaeologist Natalie Burke. And we can’t leave out Joe Estevez, who plays Joel. Joe obviously doesn’t have the same agent as his brother, Martin.
The opening credits of the movie are reminiscent of a mid-eighties documentary made for PBS and basically any song can be sung to the music they play. Try it. It’s fun! And if you can’t do it good enough yourself, watch the MST3K version and enjoy their wit. Next we see a sprawling desert and some Scooby Doo-being-chased-by-a-monster music starts playing. It’s the kind of stuff that makes you just want to bounce around like you’ve had too much caffeine. And then it sounds like a tremendous freighter is coming through as Noel, the head scientist drives his jeep to an archaeological dig site. We stare at his plastic-y face for a while as he drives around and then we go on over to the dig where Yuri, the guy Noel left in charge, is busy insulting the Native Americans they hired to dig for them. Eventually, they hit something in the dirt and Yuri gets even more abusive. One of the Native Americans, who sounds and even kind of looks like Tommy Chong, tries to defend himself, but Yuri proceeds to kick his ass. By the way, Yuri is Italian and his hair is amazingly puffy. I just thought you should know that. After the butt kicking goes on for a little bit, Noel and his other assistant, Natalie, show up. They stop the fighting, but not before Tommy Chong falls down and scrapes himself on the skeleton they were digging up. He bleeds pretty bad and his blood looks like a fruit roll-up melted all over his arm. That can’t be good.
Yuri ignores the severely injured guy and continues digging the skeleton out. Once he gets it uncovered, no one can figure out what it is until Joel mumbles something like, “Tamagotchi” or “Kawasaki.” Noel quickly tells Joel to take the rest of the day off and the archaeologists take the skeleton back to their office. They stand over it and look at it for a while and Noel and Yuri seem to have a pretty good idea of what it is, but poor, befuddled Natalie just can’t seem to put two and two together. After slowly and woodenly reading lines, Yuri tells her it’s a werewolf. Unfortunately, Natalie gets even more confused and calls it a “wuhrwulf.” It’s further revealed that the word Joel used translates to “he who trots here and there on all fours,” and that you can tell when a person turns into one of these creatures because they “sleep nose to anus.” Talk about morning breath… “Oh, that’s right, I had broccoli for dinner!”
Some more really unnecessary explanations go on for a little while and then Tommy Chong and his buddy get back from the hospital. The hospital stitched Tommy up but failed to notice he was having a seizure, so Joel has to call the ambulance. Damn HMOs. Wow, and I just realized the character’s name actually IS Tommy … go fig.
Then we get to go back and watch the three archaeologists gape at the skeleton some more! Whee! They talk about legends and Natalie says “wuhrwulf” again and Yuri hisses out lines. Nothing really important happens in the scene and it just kind of fizzles out.
Then there’s about a minute long shot of the outside of a hospital, during which you can hum pretty much the entire opening theme of “Trapper John, M.D.” Inside the hospital, a doctor whose hair doubles as a helmet and his Vanna White-ish nurse run some intensive tests on Tommy, like checking his heart rate. They go out into the hallway and talk for a while, the doctor leaves and the nurse goes back in and the scene ends.
After that, we go back to the desert with the hired diggers and Yuri drives up and has a whole new hairstyle! Joel tells him Tommy is in the hospital with an infection from the skeleton he cut himself on, so Yuri dresses up as a doctor, dons yet another new hairstyle, flirts with an intern nurse and finds out that suspected werewolves are kept in the neo-natal ward. He sneaks into Tommy’s room and takes a blood sample and leaves. Then we get treated to about five minutes of Tommy having convulsions, sweating profusely, growing facial hair and howling. Though the howling does sound a lot better than N’Sync’s newest release… After he’s about halfway through his transformation, he breaks out of his bed and hits the hallway, killing a hospital security guard who looks like Ted Dibiase and terrifying nurses.
The next thing we know, he’s outside and has completely transformed into Gentle Ben. The Scooby-Doo chase music starts to play again and the locals shoot him.
Twenty-five minutes down, about seventy more to go. And now we finally get introduced to the main character! Paul Niles is moving back to his hometown, so he hops off the Amtrak and into a cab with Morton Downey, Jr. Guess what! It’s the same town as the previous story line! Anyway, Paul gets to the home he grew up in and is greeted by the groundskeeper, who looks like Yosemite Sam as a member of the Michigan Militia. After exchanging pleasantries with him, Paul goes upstairs and meets Carrie. I honestly have no idea as to just what Carrie’s role is. I’m guessing realtor, prostitute or maid. Carrie invites him to a party and leaves Paul to smugly walk around and look out his window.
Later, at the aforementioned party, we find out everyone is there; Yuri, Natalie and Noel. It’s a really happening party, complete with Super Mario Bros. 2 slot machine music. Paul is standing smugly in the doorway when out of the blue, Carrie turns on him and leaves. I really have absolutely no idea why. Then the expected happens and Paul meets Natalie and they hit it off, Yuri gets abusive and Noel tells him to leave. Yuri staggers off into the night and into the lab where they’re keeping the skeleton. Once there, Yuri drugs a security guard and injects him with the blood he took from Tommy. The guard comes to, drives off, Yuri follows him (with another new hairstyle), the guard turns into a werewolf and crashes and dies. All the while, Natalie and Paul have been talking and Natalie spills the beans about the skeleton to Paul. So the next day, Paul shows up at the lab and, of course, Yuri once more gets abusive and smacks Paul with the skull from the skeleton.
Paul runs off like a puppy would after it got stung by a bee (our hero, ladies and gentlemen) and goes home. Then the inevitable happens and he starts to have episodes of convulsions and he looks like he’s trying to have relations with his bed. A little later, Natalie drops by and they get it on. Then there are about three confusing jump cuts with accompanying music changes and suddenly we’re watching a guy who looks like Jim Carrey and his girlfriend messing around in a jeep. Just as they’re getting to their muskrat lovin’, Paul shows up, crawling like an earthworm. He chases the girl, who apparently has several vocal chords because you can distinctly hear several different screams going on at once.
Were-Paul kills the girl and then we’re suddenly back to him in his bedroom going through more convulsions. Then for some entirely inexplicable reason, Carrie shows up and Were-Paul attacks her. Do keep in mind that several days have passed and there’s still a full moon.
The next day, Natalie drops by and in one of the lamest attempts at entertainment in this movie, Paul turns off the soundtrack by turning off the radio. They talk about werewolves and stuff and Paul is smug and Natalie says things in about seven different accents.
Wow, I think this review is the longest I’ve ever written. Okay, to sum it up, Natalie tells Noel her concerns that Paul is turning into a werewolf. Noel basically ignores her. Natalie and Paul go out and play pool, Yuri shows up and Paul starts to have one of his episodes. In yet another inexplicable turn of events, a feminine, pudgy Native American guy who smokes cigars shows up and plays pool with them. Yuri notices Paul is transforming and calls Noel who, it turns out, is in the same league as Yuri; they’re in it for the money and they don’t care who gets hurt in the process. Paul goes bounding off back to his place, nearly gets hit by a car, terrifies the hell out of Sam, the groundskeeper and the Action Archaeologists follow him. Natalie follows Paul up to his room and warns him that Yuri is coming for him. Paul goes off into the woods, waits for Yuri, pounces on him and kills him. We never do find out just what the hell happens to Noel. Back in Paul’s room, we discover that the one time he and Natalie boinked was just enough to make her turn into a werewolf as well. As if we didn’t see that coming about ten miles before…
This movie is evil. EVIL! Maybe my review is, too, because it’s nearly 2000 words long but damn it, this movie deserved a full riffing. It’s offensive in every way possible, the acting is terrible, the writing sucks and the editing is about as good as any given wedding video. Tony Zarindast has some major issues that he needs to work out. This movie gets a big, moldy yak turd.