WTFW: Werewolf (1996)

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

WTFW: Werewolf (1996)

Werewolf (also known as Arizona Werewolf) is a 1996 direct-to-video horror film that was lampooned in a 1998 episode of movie-mocking television comedy series Mystery Science Theater 3000.  It is noteworthy for having been mocked on MST3K only two years after its release, and was also the most recent film to be featured on the series until Future War would be featured the following season.  Mike and the bots joked about the film's incredibly poor sound editing and special effects, with the titular monster appearing to be "simply a wolf, other times a kind of man-bear, other times a sort of fruit bat puppet, and at still other times, just a guy with the mumps overdue for a shave." - and the thick accents of its leading actors ("Paul! You is a waerwelf!").

Werewolf (1995)

  • Genre: Horror 
  • Directed: Tony Zarindast
  • Produced:
    • Mark Fitzgerald 
    • Nahid Heusser 
    • Mike Morgan 
    • Tony Zarindast 
  • Written:
    • Brad Hornbacher 
    • Tony Zarindast
  • Starring: Jorge Rivero, Richard Lynch, Federico Cavalli, Adrianna Miles, Joe Estevez, Jules Desjarlais, R.C. Bates, Tony Zarindast, Randall Oliver, Heidi Bjorn
  • Music: Keith Bilderbeck
  • Cinematography:
    • Dan Gilman 
    • Robert Hayes
  • Editing: Peter Taylor
  • Studio: Tozart Publishing Inc.
  • Distributed:
    • A-Pix Entertainment 
    • Ardustry Home Entertainment  
    • Simitar Entertainment 
    • Spentzos Film Home Video  
    • West Video
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 21 January 1996 (US)
  • Running Time: 99 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

Archaeologists working in Arizona find a werewolf skeleton.  The ill-tempered foreman, Yuri gets into a fight with his crew, Tommy, Joel, and Bill.  In the course of the fight, Tommy is scratched by the werewolf skeleton.  This greatly alarms his fellow diggers, especially Joel.  The head archaeologist, Noel, details what he knows of werewolf behavior, which he bases on American Indian mythology.  Here the werewolf, or yetiglanchi1 takes on strange behavior including "sleeping nose to anus."

Tommy is taken to the hospital, where he begins showing signs of lycanthropy, finally turning into a werewolf and attacking people.  Joel and Bill arm themselves with shotguns and silver bullets and succeed in subduing Tommy.

The scene now shifts to a house in suburban Flagstaff.  A writer named Paul Niles arrives.  At a party, he is introduced to one of the archaeologists, Natalie Burke and takes a romantic interest in her.  Yuri is jealous and behaves badly - he is expelled from the party by his boss Noel.  Yuri, (who is known for his drastically changing hairstyles) walks to the laboratory and conspires to create a new werewolf: he drugs a security guard (played by director Tony Zarindast) and injects him with blood drawn from Tommy.  A new werewolf is indeed created, but the werewolf makes the unfortunate choice of driving itself home, and it suddenly crashes into some oil drums (Inexplicably placed in the middle of the road) and dies in the ensuing fire.

The following day, Paul visits the lab at Natalie's invitation.  He gets into a fight with Yuri, who attacks him with the werewolf skull.  Paul is scratched by the skull, and now it is his turn to start showing symptoms of lycanthropy.  He starts attacking people at night, but remembers little of it.  Finally, Natalie and Yuri spy him changing.  Yuri plots to capture Paul and take him to the lab, Natalie tries to help him.  In a murky chase sequence, Paul, in werewolf form, kills Yuri.  He and Natalie (now a werewolf, herself, with no explanation as to how she became one although the trailer of the film hints at a sex scene not shown in the film) reunite at the end of the movie.

Several scenes from Werewolf were shot on the campus of Glendale Community College in Glendale, California. The lab scenes took place in the old Physical Science building before it was refurbished in the early 2000s.  The footbridge that crosses Verdugo Road, in front of the College, is seen in several nighttime shots.

Werewolf (DTV 1996)

 

Notes:

1.  In some Native American legends, a skin-walker is a person with the supernatural ability to turn into any animal he or she desires.  To be able to transform, legend sometimes requires that the skin-walker wears a pelt of the animal.  In most cases, this pelt is not used in modern times because it is an obvious sign of them being skin-walkers.  Similar lore can be found in cultures throughout the world and is often referred to as shapeshifting by anthropologists.

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