There is no sin in killing a beast, only in killing a man. But where does one begin and the other end?
So this year I decided to do something very, very different. Now the in the past, all Horrorfests have ended on a film that takes place on Halloween. This wasn’t a credence that I set out to make, it just kind of happened along the way. With Horrorfest I had always planned on ending on Halloween (1978). I knew it was the best way to end the first year with a big bang. Besides, that year I had done the other slasher films that spanned numerous sequels and remakes (Friday the 13th & Nightmare on Elm Street). Horrorfest II I was trying to also end on a really great film that would produce the same kind of bang, and decided on Children of the Corn as that film was creepy. It also happened to take place on Halloween.
This year I was trying to decide what would be the best opener and closer. I was originally going to open with Metropolis as I had done a post in July referencing it. But after I wrote that post, it just didn’t speak to me as an opener. I started going through my drafts and that’s when I spotted The Wolf Man (1941). The Wolf Man has to be my favorite of the classic horror film monsters (along with The Phantom of the Opera). I hadn’t had a chance to review it yet, and since it was the last of the classics I decided it should be the opener.
Once I wrote that post, I was so excited. You see, I felt I really couldn’t to a post on any werewolf films until I had covered the first one. I thought it was only right to start with the original. With that done, I could move onto any other werewolf film I desired. The possibilities were endless.
With the beginning finished, I then set my sights on the end. What could I do that would really pop? As I started thinking and looking, I saw my draft for The Wolfman (2010). And that’s when it hit me.
I could end Horrorfest III with The Wolfman (2010). It could be like bookends!!!! In the beginning the original that started it all and the end the newest rendition. !!! Yes!! It could work and it will. So here we are The Wolfman (2010).
So a little backstory before we begin the review. As you would have read in an older post, I love The Wolf Man (1941). It is one of my all-time favorite horror films. One day in my photography class, we were watching trailers of different films as we were looking at the cinematography and technique. My teacher was on a Mac which has Front Row, and shows you trailers of the past, present, and future films. One trailer I remember looking at was Nightmare on Elm Street (2010). I wasn’t planning on seeing it, as I hadn’t seen the original. But as we reached the end, I saw The Wolfman.
I screamed ay my teacher, stop!! I want to see that. So we watched the trailer.
AWESOME!!! RIGHT!!! So I knew there were going to be changes, I knew it was going to be nowhere near as good as the original, but I was soooo pumped!! So I watched the trailer in February 2009, and saw the film was slated for that October. I couldn’t wait!!!
I ticked off the months, but then in October I discovered it wasn’t out in theaters.
Yep, there had been some production problems, so they pushed it back to February. FEBRUARY!!! V-Day weekend. I was upset, but what could I do? I just had to wait it out.
But then February came and I decided that it would be my V-day present to myself. You see I have never had a boyfriend or date for V-day, so I always just buy myself whatever I want. It’s actually pretty nice as you don’t have to fight with anyone over where to go or what to see; and you are never, ever, ever, disappointed.
I asked a couple of friends who were also single and we bought tickets for opening night. I knew that I wouldn’t be 100% pleased, but I was looking forward to those improved transformation scenes.
So moving on to the review.
So let’s go back in time. The year is 1891 and we are in England. Lawrence Talbot (Benicio del Toro) is the second son of Sir John Talbot (Anthony Hopkins). He and his dad had a lot of issues and problems so he left as soon as he could. Since then he has been a renowned Shakespearean actor, famous throughout all England for his Hamlet and Macbeth.
He recieves a letter from a Gwen Conliffe (Emily Blunt). She was engaged to his older brother Ben, but he has been murdered. Not only was he murdered, but horribly mangled by something. When Lawrence gets the news, he immediately returns home for the funeral.
When he gets there he sees his father and the two have a harsh welcome. Unlike The Wolf Man (1941), where father and son were trying to work on repairing their relationship, Sir John doesn’t care. He still has huge issues with his son not being what he wants him to be. The way that Sir John treats him, causes Lawrence to want to leave, and go far away…but he can’t. He has to properly say good-bye to his brother.
Lawerence does try to get away from his father as he knows staying near him will just cause more fights. He also really wants to see his brother. So he heads down to the local slaughterhouse where the body is kept before burial.
I know but you have to remember this is a small village in 19th century England. They didn’t have a mortuary to hold the body until burial. They also didn’t understand how diseases spread and that it is not a good idea to have a dead body near your food.
There at the slaughterhouse, the butcher gives Laurence his brother’s items, that is everything found on him at the time of his death.
Later that night he heads over to the local pub for a drink and overhears the gossip on the murder. Most of the villagers blame a band of gypsies. Not long after they moved into the area, Ben was murdered. In fact, someone remembers a case occuring years earlier of gypsies moving into the area and dead bodies surfacing. As they discuss this, Laurence remembers that Ben had had a gypsy medallion on him.
This is the first time that Laurence has ever met his brother’s fiance Gwen. Now for you Wolf Man fans, you should recognize that it is the same name given to Laurence’s love interest in the original film. Except in that film she was to marry the hunter/groundsman of the Talbot estates. Anyways, Laurence meets her and can instantly see why his brother fell for her, as he himself is attracted to her.
Of course Lawrence is the most amazing, gentleman/good guy that he would never ever think of putting the moves on her. He does thank her for trying to be there for his father and for everything. He also let’s her know that if she ever needs him, he’ll be there for him.
Gwen is also attracted to him, and you really can’t blame her. If Benecio is in his early 40s, that means her husband to-be was hecka old. Also Benecio/Lawrence has this adorable hurt puppy dog look that makes you just want to show him he is special, and that you care for him. He looks so sad that it makes you just want to take him, and take care of him. Making sure is life is bright and never unhappy again. That look is killer on any girl as it flies through their best defenses. Major chink in the armor.
Sorry, digressing….So with Lawrence back, and the funeral over, Gwen decides to return to London. Laurence would like to leave too, but wth his brother’s death, he now is sole heir to the estate and the first son. When his father dies he will become Sir Lawrence and be expected to uphold all those duties (House of Lords most likely). This isn’t the life that Laurence wants, but at this moment he is too loaded with grief and confusion over his brother’s death that he doesn’t question or try to rebel.
So with Gwen gone, and his father an emotionless robot who only cares about himself; Lawrence takes it upon himself to try and figure out what happened to his loving brother. Now Lawrence is putting on the black cowl and trying to become a vigilante or anything, he just wants some closure about his brother’s death. He heads down to the gypsy camp to try to get some answers.
That night is a full moon
Which as you’ve guessed it means trouble is going to be roaming about. Lawrence meets up with the gypsy woman Maleva, who tells him that something truly evil has attacked his brother.
But before he can get anything more, the townspeople attack the village. They try to drive the gypsies from the area, and kill a dancing bear they believe to be the beast that killed Ben Talbot.
As they are attacking, a superhuman, wolfish creature descends upon the area and starts slaughtering people.
And I’m not talking about just a few people, this is like a Scream sequel. The body count by the end of this film is in the double digits.
Hey, my generation is the Millennials. They aren’t as classy, they need lots more blood and guts.
Anyways, the werewolf is attacking everyone, and Lawrence spots a young boy running into the woods. At the same time the werewolf spots the boy, causing Lawrence to put himself in the way in order to protect the child. As he does so, the wolf attacks him.
And he gets bitten.
Malvea find him and cares for him, despite the community telling her that it is better for all if they let him die. But Malvea can’t, she says he still is a man and deserves to be treated as such. She also states that only a loved one can kill him.
Malvea honey, I don’t think so. Anyone can kill a werewolf as long as they have some kind of silver object. Nowhere is that in the original film, as if you read my post you would know that film revolutionized werewolf mythology. Click here to check it out now.
And besides that, is there nothing you can do for him? You are a cinematic gypsy in a horror film! You’re supposed to have a potion or herb or special thing that can protect you from turning. Now if you have read my Dracula, The Mummy, The Wolf Man, or Scream 2 posts, you know I make fun of the films when the guy is given a special charm to protect him but then stupidly turns it over to the girl he loves, EVEN THOUGH IT WILL NOT WORK FOR HER.
But I really enjoy that part of the film, as it humanizes the character and makes you adore them. I mean its sweet how much they love the girl in their life that if there is anything that can do to ward of the monster, they prefer them to have it. Even though by doing so they make things worse, hey it’s the thought that counts.
I also hate how gypsies have been giving “B” standing in modern horror films. I mean without their supreme wisdom and knowledge in the supernatural, they are just nomadic people. In real life they are still awesome, in a horror film? That’s just boring.
But I guess that’s just they way it is these days.
So where was I? Oh yeah, Lawrence has been bitten by the werewolf. He is moved back to Talbot Manor, and Gwen returns from London to nurse him back to health. While recovering he has really strange dreams. Lots of blood, murder, and even his mother appears. You see his mother died when he was very, very young and her death severely traumatized her as he discovered her dead body. But why would that death be haunting him now? Is it because of Ben? The slaughtered people seen in the gypsy camp? Or is it something else?
Lawrence actually heals pretty quickly, which he finds kind of odd. And that’s not the only thing that’s odd in the Talbot homestead. One day his father’s manservant, Singh (Art Malik), shows him a case of silver bullets and hints that something monstrous is walking through the woods.
He’s not the only one concerned. Inspector Abberline (Hugo Weaving) comes to town. Yes, yes I’m going to admit it. Any film with Hugo Weaving gets an 10x increase in awesome. I mean this guy is truly one of the most talented actors alive. When he ecomes a role you totally forget that he is Hugo Weaving and just think of him as that character. For me I’m always going, Hugo Weaving was in that film? Oh that’s who was that amazing character. I totally forgot that character was being played by an actor. I mean he is that good. You have Agent Smith in The Matrix, Elrond in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, V in V for Vendetta, the Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger, and that’s just to name a few.
Anyways, Inspector Abberline comes to town to investigate. He already believes he knows who the killer is…Lawrence.
Seriously? Lawrence? A Murderer? Come on, this guy wouldn’t hurt a fly. I mean look at him, really look at him. There isn’t a murderous bone in his body! Besides, he just arrived in town so there is no way he could have murdered his brother. Dude, you’re dumb.
But it isn’t completely ungrounded. You see, Lawrence has a history of “mental problems.” You see, I didn’t want to give you the full story so early, but Lawrence’s mother’s death really did a number on him. Now today, we would really try to help the child as we understand such events as those are highly traumatic and can cause serious issues. Then not so much. Lawrence discovered the body and was very upset. He was afraid and kept mentioning a monster had hurt her. Instead of trying to help his kid, Sir John sent him to an insane asylum, where he was tortured. And I mean torture. Many methods to improve these patients were electrotherapy, iron cuffs/collars, bloodletting, dipping the patient in hot or ice-cold water, and a gyrating chair “to shake up the blood and tissues of the body to restore equilibrium”. By the 1900s, many hospitals had added lobotomies to their lists of “cures”.
Yeah not fun. So Aberline thinks he is the perfect suspect. Laurence though, is having none of that.
Lawrence Talbot: I get your implication, and resent it. You’re clearly aware of my personal history, as I believe I’m aware of yours. Weren’t you in charge of the ripper case a couple of years back?
Det. Aberline: You’re a direct man. So I’ll be equally direct with you. I am not your enemy, Mr. Talbot. You’ve been seen as Hamlet, Macbeth, Richard III, all with that same face. A prudent man would ask who else might be living inside that head of yours?
Laurence doesn’t quite know what is going on and asks Gwen to leave as he’s worried something might happen to her. That night he follows his father, and watches him go down to the family crypt, to the area where his dead mother resides. There he finds a chair with restranints. His father locks the door and stays in the crypt, leaving a confused Laurence.
As Laurence turns to go inside, he becomes…The Wolfman!
Now this was worth the price of admission. These transformation scenes are awesome!!!
So now that he is a wolfman, he does what they all do. Ravage the countryside.
The next day the Inspector comes for him and has him arrested to be sent back to the “mental hospital”
How horrible is that. I mean this has to be Laurence’s biggest fear, to be sent back to that horrible place. Poor guy. And I was doing some research last night, not only were insane asylums awful, but the one he has to go to, Bedlam, was one of the worst.
Dr. Hoennegar, the leading physician, takes Laurence under his wing and subjects him to ice treatments, that is to be consistently dunked into ice water and left there for long periods of time.
Can you imagine?
And oh joy, he also gets electroshock therapy.
While he is incarcerated, Sir John comes to visit and tells him a story. You see Sir John is the cause of all this.
Back in the day when he was younger and hunting in India, he heard this rumor about an unusual predator. He travels to the remote cave that the predator calls his home and while there was bit by a feral boy and became a victim of lycanthropy.
Except, it was more than “imagining” he actually became a werewolf and began attacking things.
That’s when Laurence realizes everything about his mother’s death makes total sense. He did see a beast kill her, but it was his father! His father killed his mother and then sent him to a mental institution!!! What a truly, truly evil man to allow his son to be tortured. And now for a second time!!!
Now this was my biggest issue with the film. Every other part of the movie was actually pretty great. It was an amazing homage to the orginal film. Benecio del Toro was actually a huge fan of the original and tried to bring a lot of Lon Chaney Jr. into his acting. But the thing I absolutely hate was the changed relationship with his father.
It just didn’t work in my opinion. I mean that is what truly made the original fantastic, was that everything in his life was going great, he was a great man; and this tragedy strikes that ruins everything. He and his father were finally, finally becoming close and working out all their issues. He had met a nice girl, even though she was engaged, and had hope for that relationship. He loved England and was getting back into the groove of it. But then this horrible thing happens and he has to say good-bye to it all. He knows he is going to die, but what does he do? He goes to his dad and makes sure that he has something to protect him. Because even though he has spent years hating and being angry at his father, he truly loves him. It’s just so wonderful and sad all at the same time
But having the dad the evil guy, I don’t know…it just makes the film feel as if it is missing a huge part of it. It doesn’t hit in the heart like the orginal.
But moving on, so his father murdered his mother and then sent the only witness to a torture chamber (mental hospital) to ensure that those memoris would never come to light as they are only crazy “child fantasies”.
Since then, Sir John has had his manservant Singh has been locking him up so he doesn’t wreck havoc anymore. However, Ben was planning to leave with Gwen once they were married and this enraged Sir John. He wasn’t locked up that night and killed him to keep him from going away. He became so incensed with the power that he ran wild later, killing all in the gypsies camp and biting Laurence purposely.
Omg what a–
He did it on purpose because he wanted a fall guy. He wants to roam free as a werewolf and he allows his son to be caught and tortured. Argh!!! Urhg! this man! I;m so angry I can’t spell right. He needs a good sock in the face.
After he finishes his story he leaves, intent on never returning.
He deserves another punch.
That night Laurence is taken to the observation room, where the good doctor presents him as a curio to his collegues. Unbeknowest to him, moonlight is coming through the window and landing on Laurence. This causes him to turn into….the Wolfman!
This is one of the coolest scenes, but unfortunately I could only find it in Italian. Sorry! But you don’t really need to understand what they are saying to enjoy the effects/makeup.
Dr. Hoenneger: Ah, Mr. Talbot. We are here tonight to illustrate conclusively that Mr. Talbot’s fears are quite irrational. So, we will remain in this room together, and once Mr. Talbot has witnessed that the full moon holds no sway over him, that he remains a perfectly ordinary human being, he will have taken his first small step down the long road to mental recovery. We are all aware that Mr. Talbot has suffered quite traumatic personal experiences. He witnessed his mother’s self mutilations. His young mind, unable to accept it, created a fantastical truth, that his father is to blame. That is father is literally a monster. But, your father is not a werewolf. You were not bitten by a werewolf. You will not become a werewolf, any more than I will sprout wings and fly out of that window.
Totally fangirl over that.
Laurence runs away, being chased by the Inspector, and also wreaking havoc. There are some truly amazing shots of him by the bridge, on statues. Just plain awesome!
The next day he visits Gwen in her antique shop. They realize they have fallen in love, but Laurence knows nothing can come of it. He has to kill his father and himself in order to protect others.
Inspector Abberline comes to see if Lawrence is there, but he is too late. Lawrence has already left for Talbot estate.
Gwen refuses to believe that they can’t be together. She starts studying lycanthropy and tracks down Maleva the gypsy for more advice. Maleva cannot help her, as there is no cure for werewolf.
Meanwhile, the Inspector has also headed back to the village and this time armed with silver bullets. That show in the Observation room must have finally convinced him that werewolves are real. Gwen also heads toward Talbot Hall.
Lawrence is the first to arrive and discovers a murdered Singh. He takes his gun loaded with the silver bullets and starts hunting his father.
Sir John Talbot: You have me at a disadvantage. It makes me happy.
Lawrence Talbot: What does?
Sir John Talbot: Well, seeing you here like this. My son returned. It is glorious, isn’t it?
Lawrence Talbot: No, it’s hell.
Sir John is a freak. He needs help. Serious help.
Anyways, it turns out there are no bullets in Singh’s gun, but blanks. Sir John did that on purpose as he will not be destroyed. Sir John attacks his son and the two begin fighting. The full moon comes up and transfroms them into werewolves. And yes, yes we have a werewolf fight. I personally thought it was a little cheesy (and dumb) but this is the millenal generation. And it is something the people want.
So after Laurence burns and decapiitates his father, Gwen walks into the house.
The wolfman, Lawrence, attacks her. Luckily, the inspector had also just arrived on the scene. He tries to use his gun, but misses allowing him to be bit by the werewolf. Gwen steals the gun and takes off, being pursued by the wolfman.
He chases her to a waterfall. With nowhere left to go, Gwen starts begging and pleading with the wolfman, hoping to get to Lawrence. Lawrence reason faintly returns to the beast, who hesitates. He then hears the sound of a posse coming to attack him.
While he is concentrated on them, Gwen shoots him through the heart.
Laurence changes back to his human form, and before he dies thanks Gwen for saving him.
Lawrence Talbot: [his eyes open after being shot by a silver bullet and transforming back into a human] Gwen?
Gwen Conliffe: [crying] I’m sorry…
Lawrence Talbot: It had to be this way.
Gwen Conliffe: I’m sorry.
Lawrence Talbot: [he holds her hand] Thank you. [Dies]
The posse and an injured inspector arrive just as Laurence dies.
So that is The Wolfman. Now do I think it is as good as the original? HECK NO! But that does not mean it isn’t an awesome film. Besides that one thing that majorly irks me, I really enjoyed it. I thought it was a pretty awesome film. The cinematography is beautiful, the acting incredible, and those transformation scenes? Freakin’ awesome! And I did like how they moved the story to show how harshly “mental disabled” people were treated. And you know what? Most of the people who were in those didn’tr even have serious problems. They would throw in the homeless, those with learning disabilities, women of large fortune who had husands that wanted the money but not the girl, etc. It was horrible. Horrible.
But back to the film, I think it is a worthwile view. It may not be exactly how I imagined it, but you do have some great werewolves in this, and no Jacob ones. Real werewolves.
And so ends another Horrorfest. I am so pleased with this years as I was able to redeem myself from last year’s only half the month’s posts. 31 days of terror and woe once again. I hope you all enjoyed it. I wish you all a very happy, and safe, Halloween. May it be everything you wish it to be.
To start Horrorfest III from the beginning, go to Even a Man Pure of Heart
For the previous post, go to The Perfect Murder
For more on werewolves, go to Werewolves Roam Among Us
For more monster movies, go to There’s Nothing Out There. Nothing in the Mist
For more on 19th century England, go to The Past of a Man
For more on insane asylum, go to I Bid You Welcome
For more remakes, go to Don’t F*** With the Original