Back in 2019, Amazon did a special short film contest for “U.S. filmmakers from underrepresented backgrounds to compete for a grand prize”. I don’t remember who won, but I do recall watching them all and only liking one in particular: Concealer.
I’ve wanted to review it for a while, but it is no longer available on Amazon. After some googling I did discover that it was uploaded on YouTube.
Kristine Gerolaga wrote, starred, directed and edited the short in only two weeks. Amazing!
Ivy (Kristine Gerolaga) and Bless (Stacie Gancayco-Adlao) go way back. Even though they haven’t spoken in a while, when Bless reaches out, Ivy is eager to met up and go to her house, especially as Bless promises to treat her to a spa day.
When Ivy knocks on Bless’ door we are met with an odd sight, the window in the door to view who is on the doorstep is taped over in newspaper and when Bless answers, while she seems happy to see Ivy she clearly doesn’t look quite right. Her makeup seems off and is too much, very pale and plastic
Ivy brings Bless a gift, a picture of the two and Bless looks much better in the picture then in person, as she is more natural and happy instead of a this fake almost vampiric look-pale skin, dark lips; like she could be a bride of Dracula.
Ivy is amazed at how beautiful and different Bless’ house is, something you’d see on Instagram or Pinterest, as it, and Bless look perfect, like and Instagram post. But even though Bless seems friendly there is an oddness to all her movements.
Ivy is a little weirded out, especially by a creepy knocking sound from upstairs, but tries to shrug it off and asks for a tour of the house.
Upstairs is devoid of the “makeup”, as it is dark, discolored, and messy. In one room sits a man (Bless’ husband), who looks like a zombie as he goes over the bills and debt they have.
Everywhere there are boxes and bags for “Cherry Cheeks” a Mary Kay type makeup brand.
When they arrive back downstairs a full Cherry Cheeks sampler is set out, as if provided by ghosts or other ghoulish guests.
Bless then proceeds to give a talk on her company, another MLM mummy.
Ivy is not a fan and not interested, especially as almost all the items are expired. But as Ivy tries to leave she finds she can’t, as she is starting to lose consciousness, perhaps it’s the wine?
Bless becomes more freakish as she looks even more like a vampire feeding on Ivy’s prior dislikes about her body and trying to manipulate Ivy’s vulnerability in order to persuade her to purchase items. As the drugs take effect Bless’ voice becomes lower, deeper, and creepier
Betrayed by someone you considered a friend, is there a worse betrayal?
When Ivy awakens she sees that her face has been made over by Cherry Cheeks while Bless has a full breakdown trying to convince Ivy to purchase some of the product, looking as if she has a spit personality or the makeup has fried her brain.
Ivy is furious at the trick Bless played in getting her to come over and being drugged. Bless tried to calm her down and at what seems to at first be further manipulation is the vulnerability. Bless has been trying to work so hard at her MLM that it caused her to go into so much debt she is going to lose their home, their savings, their car, everything. But the vulnerability only lasts for a while as her sale’s persona “possesses” her once again.
This transition between the two dichotomies is shown perfectly with the mirror and opposing camera angles as she swaps between saleswoman and childhood friend.
After Ivy overpowers Bless, she tries to leave again, almost being stopped by the tons of boxes of Cherry Cheeks on the door. Injured and moving slow, Bless’ husband helps her up and tries to take her with him, but when he forget to unlock the passenger door to his cars (and Ivy’s keys being in the house) Ivy soon finds herself alone…and unfortunately worried about Bless.
So worried Ivy goes back and tries to destroy the makeup that has a hold on Bless. When that doesn’t work, Ivy tries to remove it from Bless’ face hoping that might be enough to shock her out of it. But Bkess is too far gone and attacks Ivy, wounding her.
But it’s too late, we see that the makeup that was supposed to give Bless a better life has not only not made her insane but disfigured her face. She’s on the level of the Queen of Outer Space.
In the end the women’s friendheip overcomes this terrible creature and they destroy everything, but unfortunately both are left with the scars of the thing they tangled with.
I really enjoyed the way this film takes the predatory nature of MLM and made it the monster that “possesses” and injures the characters. I read some comments that felt it wasn’t subtle enough or that it was too over the top; but I disagree. I feel like it captured the feelings one has when a MLM preys or tries to prey on them, in an exaggerated setting. Which is what well done horror films do, they take an idea, thought, or event and exaggerate the fear of it. Again I really enjoyed it and staunchly recommend it.
Every young girl knows that a dance is split up into three parts. 1) Prep: Getting ready with hair + makeup. 2) The Dance itself. And 3) The After Party. Now I’m not talking about an “after party, after party”, but when its over you hang with your girlfriends and hash over the whole events.
It was just as true 203 years ago as it is today. Yep in Pride and Prejudice after the ball, the girls do what every young girl after a dance does, DISCUSS IT!
So everyone finds the ball a complete success.
Finally something GOOD!
Jane danced with Mr. Bingley twice! Not once but TWICE!!!
If you remember from my earlier post, First Impressions, I discussed how dancing showed you were open to getting married. The women you danced with, showed your interest in them. By dancing with Jane, Mr. Bingley declared to the world that he was most def interested in pursuing Jane. Kind of the equivalent of:
Mary was called one of the most accomplished ladies from the neighborhood.
So finally, she is able to get a good word and be appreciated for talents. This is steering her away from having a breakdown and trying to destroy her village. Not everyone is that lucky to be complimented on their talents.
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.
Where were you the night in question?
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.
Grab your torches and sharpen your pitchforks!
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.
Grab your torches and sharpen your pitchforks!
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.
But what really makes this a spectacular film is that many of the modern myths of werewolves were originated in this film: such as a person becoming a werewolf through a bite; the only way to kill a werewolf is with a silver bullet; and changing into one during a full moon. These are all original concepts created by writer Curt Siodmak. Isn’t that amazing! Like The Mummy and The Creature from the Black Lagoon this film isn’t based on a book or any specific resource, which allowed the writers a lot of leeway in their work and creations.
So this isn’t the first werewolf film, as that was The Werewolf of London, which actually did rather poorly in theaters. This was the second werewolf horror film to be made and become the most famous. All the later depictions such as: The Howling, An American Werewolf in London, I Was a Teenage Werewolf, Van Helsing, The Wolfman (2010), etc.; looked to it in creating their stories.
So the film was originally written for Boris Karloff, but he turned it down. And although I love that man [read my The Mummy (1932), Frankenstein, or The Bride of Frankensteinpost]I can’t imagine this film being as amazing with him as the title role. Lon Chaney Jr. was just superb! Lon Chaney Jr, was the son of the famous Lon Chaney (who I talk about in my Phantom of the Opera post) and interestingly the set that was used to film this movie was the same used for The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) which starred Lon Chaney Jr.’s father, Lon Chaney.
Now I love this movie and story but it is soooo sad as well. Here is a wonderful man pure of heart, who has the unfortunate luck of being bitten by a werewolf and can’t do anything to stop it. Unlike modern movies where the person can control it, change at will, etc; in the original when the man transformed into a wolf he literally transformed into becoming a beast and losing all his humanistic thought, reasoning, etc.
So the film starts out with Lon Chaney Jr. as Lawrence Talbot returning home.
Look at this sweetheart
His older brother has died, and as he is the second son he will now inherit everything–money, title, family home, etc. More importantly, after the realization that his brother is no longer, Lawrence AKA Larry, is eager to rebuild his relationship with his father. They had previously parted on not the best terms (he wanted to be an engineer his father wanted him to be something else. He decided to run away to California, against his father’s wishes).
Larry reacquaints himself with the village, taking a deep interest in a particular shopkeeper, Gwen Conliffe, who is unfortunately engaged. However, she is equally interested and as Larry buys a silver-wolf handled cane the two make a date to meet up later that night and visit the gypsies that are camping nearby.
That night Larry meets up with Gwen and her friend Jenny. The three make off to the gypsies passing some wolfsbane along the way. Both girls repeat the old gypsy folklore about wolfsbane:
“Even a man who is pure in heart
and says his prayers by night
may become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms
and the autumn moon is bright“
Now what is really interesting about this old piece of folklore is that it isn’t that old. This quote has been thought to be an Eastern European folk saying, but Siodmak admits that he was the one who made it up. Even though that might be true, it went down in film history becoming a part of almost every future Werewolf film and recited in every future Universal film appearance of the Wolf Man. [It is quoted by Van Helsing, but one of the lines was changed to “The moon is shining bright” instead of “The autumn moon is bright“]
Meanwhile, in the gypsy camp one of them has a terrible secret. Bela, played by Bela Lugosi, is actually a werewolf and hiding it from everyone.
When the group gets to the gypsy camp and have their fortunes read, Bela sees the pentagram on Jenny’s hand and knows that she’s next for death.
Bela runs off and the trio start walking home. Soon Jenny is attacked by a wolf and Larry tries to save her. He wrestles with the wolf and kills it by braining it with his cane. (It being silver can kill it) Unfortunately, he couldn’t save Jenny and during the battle, he ended up getting bit…
Making him the next werewolf.
The next day the constable comes to visit, causing Larry to second guess himself as they found a dead Bela instead of a wolf!
They found Bela beat in the head, and Larry’s silver cane matches perfectly as the weapon.
Col. Paul Montford, chief constable: [showing Larry’s stick to him] Is this your walking stick?
Larry Talbot: Why, yes. That’s the stick I killed the wolf with.
[Sir John Talbot and Col. Montford look at Larry with great concern]
Sir John Talbot: Larry, Bela the gypsy was killed last night. Your walking stick was found next to the body.
Larry Talbot: You mean, Bela the fortune teller? But… I only saw a wolf.
Larry is completely confused as he knows that it was a wolf. And how does that explain the murder of Jenny? Which was done by a wolf? The constable tells him he is still investigating as he really doesn’t want to arrest the Lord’s son, especially since there are so many questions. He ultimately deems the incident an accident.
Larry on the other hand is extremely puzzled. Could he have killed Bela? But he saw a wolf he was bit by one. Except the mark can not be found!
Larry needs answers and decides he will go see the Gypsy woman and not only apologize for her son’s death but ask her what is going on! Gwen and her fiancé Frank go with him.
The gypsy woman, Maleva, reveals that he did kill a wolf–a werewolf. Her son Bela was a werewolf and the only thing that could kill him was silver, silver like the silver on his cane.
Maleva: You killed the wolf.
Larry Talbot: Well, there’s no crime in that is there?
Maleva: The wolf was Bela.
Larry Talbot: You think I don’t know the difference between a wolf and a man?
Maleva: Bela turned into a wolf and you killed him. A werewolf can only be killed by a silver bullet, or a silver knife…[looks down at Larry’s walking stick]…or a stick with a silver handle.
Larry Talbot: You’re insane! I tell you, I killed a wolf! A PLAIN, ORDINARY WOLF!!!
Maleva: Whoever is bitten by a werewolf and lives becomes a werewolf himself.
Larry Talbot: Ah, don’t hand me that. You’re just wasting your time.
Maleva: The wolf bit you, didn’t he?
Larry Talbot: Yeah. Yeah he did!
Maleva: [Larry shows Maleva his chest wound concealed under his shirt] Go now – and heaven help you!”
Larry of course doesn’t believe her and leaves. That night he transforms into the WEREWOLF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Now the transformation was laborious. The makeup took six hours and was the design by Jack Pierce for Henry Hull in Werewolf of London. Hull had rejected it as he didn’t like how long the process would be to apply it. Chaney Jr. claimed he had to sit motionless for hours as the scenes were shot frame by frame. Pierce used grease paint, a rubber snout, wigs, and glued layers of yak hair to Chaney Jr.’s face. Larry’s dissolve transformation on screen only took seconds, while in actuality it took almost ten hours as they had to keep reapplying layers for the changing fur.
That night the Wolf Man attacks a grave-digger, Richardson.
The constable and the Doctor finds his ravaged body and wolf tracks.
Meanwhile, Larry finds himself in bed with wolf tracks all around and has finally decided that the gypsy women must be telling him the truth. He talks to his father who just thinks that he is in shock and doesn’t take any of the “werewolf nonsense” seriously. He even calls the doctor who deems it just a mild form of hysteria.
The Constable and doctor prepare the woods to catch the wolf so that it doesn’t kill another person. The night Larry as the Wolf Man steps in one of the traps and gets caught. Luckily the Gypsy woman frees him, as she had felt sorry for his predicament.
Larry transforms back into a human and asks the Gypsy woman and for help. She gives him a charm that will protect him from turning into a werewolf and warns him not to give the charm to ANYONE ELSE AS IT WON’T WORK FOR ANYONE ELSE!
He then runs off to see Gwen to tell her that he is leaving. He knows he has killed the others and doesn’t want to hurt anyone else.
“Larry Talbot: You wouldn’t wanna run away with a murderer wouldja?
Gwen Conliffe: Oh Larry, you’re not. You know you’re not.
Larry Talbot: I killed Bela. I killed Richardson. If I stay here any longer, you can’t tell who’ll be next.”
Gwen tries to get him to take her with him as she loves him, but Larry sees the mark of the pentagram on her hand and tells her he can’t. Instead he gives her the charm. YES THE CHARM THAT IS ONLY SUPPOSED TO PROTECT HIM! Really Larry? REALLY??????!!!!!!
YOU ARE MAKING THE SAME FREAKIN’ MISTAKE THAT EVERY OTHER MONSTER FILM HERO DOES!
DID YOU NOT HEAR THE WOMAN EARLIER? SHE SAID IT WILL WORK ONLY FOR YOU! ONLY FOR YOU!! ONLY YOU!!! YOU KEEP IT! What’s the point of going to a gypsy for help if you ARE NOT GOING TO LISTEN????!!!!!!! I mean this is such a classic mistake made by these men in these horror films. In Dracula, he gives the girl the cross charm that is supposed to protect only him, and then gets knocked out and is unable to keep her from being kidnapped. In The Mummy, he gives the girl the charm that is only supposed to protect him, and it doesn’t work for her. Instead Imohtep knocks him out and takes the girl anyway. MORAL OF THESE STORIES, KEEP THE DANG CHARM!!!DON’T GIVE IT AWAY!!! Alright! So if any of you are given a protective charm you freakin’ keep it!!! YOU HEAR ME????!!!!
And now that I got that little rant out of my system, let’s get back to the story.
So Larry goes to see his father and asks him to lock him up; tie him up in a chair, lock the door, etc and to go far, far, away as he doesn’t want him to be hurt. He also gives his father his silver cane as he knows that it will protect him.
Now this is why I hate modern interpretations of werewolves, except for The Wolfman (2010), as they never capture this aspect of the story. Here is a good man who has become evil, but he doesn’t want to be evil. It wasn’t like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in which Dr. Jekyll made a choice, or even The Phantom of the Operawhere he suffered such horrible things and had a complete snap and broke down. This was a good man who wanted to fix bad things in his life but the timing was off and he too is caught up in the evil. Modern interpretations also never cover the heartbreaking scene as this with his dad. He knows he can’t control the evil and the last thing he does is try to protect the ones he loves, first Gwen and then his father. The most emotional is the scene with his father, as here is a man he has been fighting with, had a horrible relationship, but you see in this moment how much love he has for his father. He gives him the cane as he wants his father to be safe, no matter what. And you see how much his father loves him by taking the cane, even though he thinks Larry is delusional.
Gwen is worried about Larry and goes looking for him, running into the woods even though the Gypsy warns her not to. I mean seriously, why don’t we listen to the Gypsies? They are gypsies, they know stuff.
So Gwen runs out and into Larry, who has escaped from his room. But instead of the sweet, adorable, loving Larry we are confronted by the horrible beast.
But before the werewolf can do anything, Sir John comes and hits him with the cane, killing him.
The constable and doctor presume that Larry was killed trying to save Gwen, but Sir John knows the truth and now is left alone and has to bury his other son.
“Maleva: The way you walked was thorny though no fault of your own, but as the rain enters the soil, the river enters the sea, so tears run to a predestined end. Now you will have peace for eternity.”
Yep. I have to say that this is one of my all-time favorite horror films. Although it makes me want to cry every time.
So that was our kick-off piece. Stay tuned for many more wonderful pieces to come!
The Princess Diaries is based on the series by Meg Cabot, and is actually a very good representation of the books. Of course there are some things that I think the book did better, and others things that I felt the movie changed were better; such as Michael not being 18 while Mia 14, her grandmother being nice and humane, and that she and Michael end up together. Anyways, I highly recommend both.
The Princess Diaries is the story of Mia (Amelia) Thermopolis, an almost 16 year old living in San Francisco with his single mom and artist. She is not the coolest person in school, and is invisible to many, especially to her crush Josh. Mia’s only friends are the equally unpopular Lily, and Lily’s brother Michael, who unbeknownst to Mia has a crush on her. Her grandmother, who she hardly ever talks to, is coming over from Europe to visit. When she gets there she tells Mia that Mia is a princess and the sole heir for the throne. Mia freaks out and is angry with both her mom and grandmother, but agrees to go to Princess Lessons and make a decision when they have the Genovian ball. She learns how to dance, have excellent posture, get a makeover, etc. Around this time Michael gets up the courage to ask Mia out and she agrees. Everyone finds out that she is a princess, and suddenly everyone wants to be her friend. Josh invites her to a beach party the same day that Michael asked her out, and she trades Michael out for Josh. Josh and his ex both humiliate her at the party, but her grandmother tries to cheer her up. Mia tries to fix her relationship with Lilly and Michael, but Michael is still hurt about Mia ditching her. Mia has to do a speech about her acceptance or refusal, but freaks out and runs off; still unsure of what decision to make. She finally decides to become the next ruler of Genovia, returns to the ball, gives a killer speech, and dances the night away with Michael.
Most Romantic Moment:
So after Mia disses Michael, leaving him for jerky Josh; Michael is heartbroken and hurt. He really liked Mia for who she was and didn’t appreciate being friendzoned. Mia realizes what a great guy Michael is and tries to invite him as her date and make it up to him, but Michael is still upset (understandable) and turns her down.
So Mia will not just let that be, she feels so bad about everything and wants to make it up to Michael. Plus, she realizes that she really, really, really likes him and can’t let him go. I wouldn’t want to let him go either he’s smart, plays the piano, a mechanic, etc. Plus he’s SUPER HOT!
He is so great! I love him. Anyways…I digress.
So she has Michael’s favorite pizza delivered with the words “Sorry” written in M&Ms, Michael’s favorite candy.
It’s so cute and romantic. I think this is one of the best ways to ever apologize for something, I mean it is on par with holding a boom box over your head or serenading someone. Not only did she do a huge romantic move, but she made sure that she got him his favorites how thoughtful!
Not to mention to make this even better, Michael checks out the pizza, checks his watch, and then hurries to get ready so that he can be there for her.