Vampires, zombies, and what else, exactly? In this house, we live for horror. And especially a gory little creature feature – even better when it’s one with roots in classic horror tropery. Of all the classic movie monsters, werewolves are the only ones that we haven’t shared our recommendations on, and we’re here to put that right today.
- Late Phases
Tom Noonan and his lovely voice are in this movie. Need I say more?
Alright, well, if I have to: Late Phases is almost incidentally a werewolf movie. Following Ambrose (Nick Damici), a blind Vietnam veteran moved into a retirement community plagued with strange monthly murders after the loss of his wife, it’s really a film about accepting help. Which sounds like a weird place to approach such a story from, but it’s a powerful way to investigate the plight of someone like Ambrose, who’s struggled his entire life with the notion that he has to carry the burden of everything he’s been through alone. The werewolf backdrop is really not much more than a way for this small, offbeat little story to unfold, a path for Ambrose to finally acknowledge his own vulnerabilities – Damici offers a killer performance that really helps hook this movie in something that feels real, and the pitch-black sense of humour keeps things from getting too plodding or miserable. Thoughtful, fully-realized, and surprisingly affecting, Late Phases knows how to work the wereworlf.
2. The Wolf of Snow Hollow
I reviewed this movie earlier this year, and truly, what else could you want? Gory, funny, smart, and inventive, writer-director-star Jim Cummings manages to shake loose some genuine pathos from this small-town murder-mystery, even as his leading man vanishes down a pit of grumpy alcoholism and bad fatherhood. Turning the werewolf movie into a whodunnit – or rather, a wolfdunnit – is an easy way to keep the plot ticking along, and, filled with well-drawn characters and a small town that feels real, The Wolf of Snow Hollow
Think Train to Busan, but with a werewolf instead of zombies, and you’ve pretty much got the premise for the underrated British horror that is Howl. Following a late-night train journey across the British countryside that takes a turn for the worse as a storm strands the passengers and crew in the middle of a full moon, it’s a smart survival horror that balances the true horror of the working in customer service for the British public and a prowlingly efficient werewolf pack on the hunt for fresh meat. It’s clever, brutal, and gleefully unmerciful, led by a really solid performance from Ed Speelers to bring it all together, and Howl manages to turn a late-running train into one of the best werewolf movies in modern cinema.
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By Louise MacGregor
(header image via Slant Magazine)