Before it became a homoerotic horror series on MTV, “Teen Wolf” was the epitome of eighties cheese that mixed a teen coming of age comedy with horror tropes. The idea of being a werewolf is of course a metaphor for puberty, as Michael J. Fox takes a baffling but oddly fun turn in his career after the success of “Back to the Future.” The 1985 “Teen Wolf” hasn’t aged very well, but it’s still a fun novelty of the decade where almost nothing was off limits it meant possibly drawing a laugh. Surely, the idea of a werewolf becoming a star basketball player is absurd, but not offensive as a comedy based around a corpse, or a college student wearing black face. But I digress.
It’s fantastic how effective “Howl” is considering the premise is so barebones and simplistic. If you’re a fan of survival horror like I am, “Howl” should be right up your alley, as it pits victims in an unlikely setting and puts them against impossible odds. Much like “Assault on Precinct 13,” the chances of the characters of “Howl” surviving are slim to nil, but I still rooted for them and eagerly awaited to see how they’d outwit their nemeses waiting in the darkness. Set during the middle of winter, Joe is a ticket taker and train guard who just missed out on a promotion.
A train breaks down in the countryside only a few miles from its departure point. The few passengers on board are getting restless as the train staff attempts to figure out what is going on when all of a sudden, a beat howls outside. The train becomes under siege by a beast who wants to snack on its passengers like canned food. The setting and premise here are simple: People in one location, being attacked, needing to escape. Co-written by Nick Ostler and Mark Huckerby, both of whom mostly have children tv show credits, the script works within its limited setting. They build the characters just enough which is to say, most characters are fairly basic, but they work as beast fodder that the viewer care enough about to have a reaction to their demise.
It also means that the last survivors are easy to spot as they are the most developed characters, which is fairly par for the course with horror movies like this one.
“The Goonies” turn thirty this year, which marks a fun anniversary of one of the most iconic family films of the 1980’s. To this day, the film is considered a masterpiece by many, even brandishing its own sequel coming very soon. I figured why not celebrate “The Goonies” by undermining its legacy and praising its knock off “The Monster Squad,” instead? Ain’t I a stinker? I’ll be honest, while “The Goonies” is a very good movie, at the end of the day I’d rather watch Fred Dekker’s “The Monster Squad.”
It’s harder edged, it’s much more entertaining, has more imagination, and it holds up against the rose colored glasses of nostalgia. Goonies never say die, but The Monster Squad kills the fuck out of monsters and bad guys. Here are five Reasons why I’d rather be in “The Monster Squad” than “The Goonies.”
I appreciated “Strippers vs. Werewolves” for being just a good enough movie with a lot of fun moments. Surely, it’s not a flawless film, as it aims mainly for cult appeal with goofy comedy, and a meta-format that breaks the fourth wall on occasion. You have to appreciate how writer Phillip Barron tries to inject an interesting story in a movie where you expect nothing but strippers fighting werewolves. To be honest, the fact that there’s an actual story with twists makes up for the fact that a movie with strippers doesn’t actually feature any bare skin at any point.
“The Howling” seems to go for broke this time, choosing instead to channel Tod Browning’s “Freaks” mixed with a tacked on werewolf vs. vampire battle, than actually trying to delve in to the werewolf mythos like the former movies. Like the previous films, “The Freaks” really has no relevance to future storylines, and no references to the previous plot points. There are no werewolf communities, or satanic cults. It’s just another Gothic romance drama posing as a horror film, yet again.
You could basically replace the werewolf in “The Rebirth” with anything you wanted, and nothing would change. Ghosts, demons, a slasher out for revenge. Like the former sequels, “The Rebirth” builds up this illusion that it’s a werewolf film and a further progression of “The Howling” storyline, when in reality it’s just another dull horror film. And one that avoids showing actual werewolves for a duration of the story. I use the term “story” very loosely.
When Dracula tells you there’s trouble afoot, you should probably listen. “Howling 2” is a sequel to the Joe Dante film because, I guess it has something resembling werewolves in it somewhere. There’s Sybil Danning boiling the screen with her sexiness, and a legion of werewolves, there’s Sybil Danning completely re-defining the term skin tight, and the theme song. I have to say, as a kid who grew up with horror movies that mostly ranged from the eighties, the theme song by Stephen W. Parsons is haunting, and has been burned in to my brain since I was in the single digits age range.