After watching American Werewolf in London during last year's Horror for the Holidays, Tim was really excited to watch more werewolf movies! It sounded like a really good idea at the time...
The plot unfolds something like this: A wealthy magnate is breaking ground on a new high-end highrise complex in the south Bronx when he, his wife, and their driver are horribly murdered by a wolf creature [or possibly a camera man with a thermal vision camera]. The city pulls it's best homicide detective out of suspension to solve this case but, he'll have to team up with the city coroner and a another lady who has some kind of job with access to high tech equipment that has some vague relevance to solving the case... Can they figure out who is murdering a few people in a huge city before one or two more people die?
Yep, that's: Edward James Olmos, Gregory Hines, Tom Noonan, Reginald VelJohnson, Diane Venora, Albert Finney, James Tolkan, and Tom Waits as the uncredited Drunken Bar Owner.
What we learned: What a city looks like through a wolf's eyes. (Because 80% of the movie was shot from that POV.)
Things to watch for: A naked man pretending to be a wolf. Wolf creatures who are invisible to some, totally visible to others, and alternating between visible and invisible to everyone else. Disappearing wolfs.... Umm... Oh! Did I mention the naked man?...
Reasons not to watch: Not one single werewolf ever (sorry, we just don't want to get your hopes up about it), and some incredibly painful appropriation of Native American spirituality.
Eco-horror/appropriation plot twist: The wolves in this movie are spirits, or possibly gods [or camera men], who are protecting their ancient hunting ground in the middle of the Bronx. That bit is odd because previous attacks of a similar nature in NYC aren't referenced in this flick. There's not even lore about a monster among the people who live in the area. Apparently during the construction of the Bronx, or the urbanization of that area in general (or the MASS GENOCIDE OF NATIVE AMERICANS centuries before) there was no need to for the wolves to defend their hunting ground. It's almost like these ancient spiritual beings never existed before 1980, but we're expected to believe they're part of the very fabric of our world because magic Native Americans. (And there is actually a magical Native American in this film, he's a shapeshifter and the prime suspect in this case as a result. Because of course First Nations people can actually shape shift. Or at least believe so hard that they can that they kill people with their bare hands.) Did the writers actually think we would believe that this highrise being constructed was the last straw for these ancient spirits? Or were they just using America's flimsy grasp of First Nation culture as an “easy” way to make the movie more super natural. (My chips are on the latter.)
What happened?: This movie has some of our favorite 80s b-movie actors, some innovative (though over used) camera work, and there's even an Chiricahua Apache actor cast as the Native American lead. It had loads of potential, but on top of being offensive, it's boring. Maybe it doesn't hold up over time, or maybe we're missing something, or maybe it's just a bad cut of the film; but there are many people on the interwebs that sing this movie's praises, and we completely don't understand.
What to watch instead: American Werewolf in London or Attack the Block. (Hell, if you're really itching to watch a movie but only have this movie and Thunderheart available to you, watch Thunderheart.)