A team of werewolf hunters takes on a challenging lycanthrope in this homage to the monster movies of old.
Universal Pictures kickstarted “monster cinema” and appears to be returning to the legacy with this effort that shapes up as a semi-sequel to their “Wolfman” remake from a few years back. This time, they save a buck or two by not getting Anthony Hopkins to act or Rick Baker to do the effects. They wisely keep the Eastern European setting and compensate for the budget by placing more of an emphasis on the action elements (think an episode of “The A-Team,” with monsters).
The film opens with a flashback that sets the tone. Parents lock their cabin doors as a terrified woman pounds on the door. A young boy watches in terror as mom and dad refuse to let the lady inside. Good call, as she promptly grows fangs and a hair suit to reveal that she was only chasing her tail and is only in need of some human blood. This she gets by busting in and ripping the parents to gory shreds. Then she turns on Junior, but gets a rude awakening as he blasts her into so much mush.
Cut to 25 years later, and Junior is now the leader of a band of werewolf hunters. These guys are like the first “Terminix” crew. They pick up bounties on monsters that terrorize Transylvanian villages, so there is plenty of work for them. Their latest stop is a quiet town that is surrounded by dense woods and is home to a healthy wolf-like creature that has been feasting nightly.
The town is home to our main character, Daniel. He is a fine young man who works hard as an assistant to the local sawbones, Doc. His mom,Valdoma, runs the local inn and looks like a Gypsy woman who has crossed over from the original “Wolfman” film. The wolf hunters move into the inn and wind up taking Daniel on as an apprentice (hey, it beats working for Donald Trump, and werewolves do a better job of combing their hair).
Pretty soon, our crew of dog fighters figure out this is no ordinary beast. It is a creature that was born of a sexual encounter between a monster and a woman (exactly how this tryst was arranged in the days before Craigslist is beyond me). This monster has certain abilities, such as transforming at will, picking and choosing who it kills, and a certain tidiness when it comes to handling bodily functions.
It all comes together during a righteous finale in which villagers (rocking torches and pitchforks like they crossed over form an older Universal flick) capture and execute one monster, only to realize there is still another on the loose. Here the film really mixes things up, as the werewolf hunters try to help the werewolf kill one of their own hunters who has turned out to be a complete tool. It is a well-conceived conclusion that proves monsters can be our friends, as long as we treat them with a bit of compassion and are not quick to whack them with a newspaper when they make a mess.
This is pretty good for a direct-to-video flick. Universal Pictures deserves credit for bringing back the monsters of old and spicing them up with a little bit of the red stuff.
There is a lot to like here. The cast is fine with Stephen Rea (“The Crying Game”) standing out as Doc. The scenes in his surgery theater are quite graphic, but it only gets better, as he soon reveals that he is a mad doctor in the time-honored tradition of monster pictures. That’s right, folks, the scientist is always the bigger monster in these morality tales.
The hunters are rugged and pack cool weapons, but sharp-eyed viewers will spot a plastic shell going into a rifle.
Fun and a breath of fresh air, if you are tired of fright flicks about tourists getting chopped up in Romanian hotels.
“You beef-witted pizzle.”
“You’re too smart to be hunting werewolves.”
“This is no ordinary werewolf.”