Greetings litter-mates! How is your spooky season going so far? By now, I assume you are on the prowl for your costume? I hope you find the purrfect one! In our last meeting, we took a stroll through the garden and found some vicious vegetation! This time, it seems Aunt Kate was right… There’s a werewolf out here somewhere! Now, not to worry kittens, with these cinema choices, the worst you’ll probably get is fleas. I hope…
Yes, Virginia, There Are Werewolves In The Marvel Universe!
“The known universe, with its heroes and marvels, but what of the darkness? In our modern world, this is where monsters dwell, alongside those who hunt and slaughter them with pride.” Rick D. Wasserman: Narrator (quote from Werewolf By Night TV Special 2022).
This Disney+ / Marvel project was advertised as a Halloween special based on the Marvel comic, Werewolf By Night. It debuted on October 7, 2022, and was directed by, Michael Giacchino. It was written by Heather Quinn, Peter Cameron, and Gerry Conway. It stars Gael García Bernal (as Jack Russell), Laura Donnelly (as Elsa Bloodstone), and Harriet Sansom Harris (as Verussa).
On a moonless night, a group of elite hunters from around the world gather in somber solidarity to pay their respect to their leader Ulysses Bloodstone, at Bloodstone Manor. During this strange memorial, the hunters participate in a ceremonial hunt for a powerful relic to see who will become the next leader. This hunt will ultimately bring them face to face with something they never expected!
I have to admit something. I have only seen one Marvel film, and that was Iron Man. The MCU is so vast now that my neurodivergent brain is overwhelmed and has a hard time keeping up with it. So I gave up. However, this special does not feel like anything from Marvel. This feels like the classic Universal monster films of the ’30s and ’40s, which I grew up watching with my Dad. The film being in black and white adds an extra dimension of drama, but what I love most is the tense moments where you don’t see anything but the character’s reaction because it leaves it up to the viewer to conjure up what they are seeing. I certainly hope to see more of this type of storytelling.
Can’t Go Wrong With A Classic!
“Even a man who is pure in heart
And says his prayers by Night
May become a wolf
When the wolfbane blooms
And the autumn moon is bright.”
(From The Wolfman 1941)
Speaking of classics, I would be remiss in my duties to the club if I did not recommend the movie that inspired Werewolf By Night.! The Wolfman, was directed by, George Waggner, and written by, Curt Siodmak. It stars Claude Rains, Warren William, and Lon Chaney Jr.
Larry Talbot returns to his family home after the death of his brother to claim his birthright, even though he and his father haven’t spoken in eighteen years. He meets Gewn, one of the town locals, and convinces her to go on a date. Her friend Jenny tags along; they are on their way to a festival where a band of gypsies are entertaining the locals. Jenny goes off to have her fortune read while Larry and Gwen take a stroll through the woods. A few moments later, the couple hear Jenny screaming!
Talbot rushes to help and finds a wolf attacking her. He then proceeds to hit the animal with his silver-handled cane and is bitten on the chest. Gwen discovers Larry badly injured and calls out to a gypsy woman who happened to be passing by with her cart. They take Larry home. The police arrive soon after and tell Larry and his father that both Jenny and a gypsy named Bela are dead!! How can that be? Larry was positive that what he hit with his cane was a wolf! Larry returns to the gypsy camp where the woman who helped him is waiting. She tells him that Bela is her son and a werewolf. She then asks him if he bit him. He confirms this by showing her the bite mark. She responds, “Those who are bitten by the werewolf become a werewolf themselves!” Can Larry stop this curse before it’s too late?
This film is that started the werewolf genre that we all know. It also created the myth of the full moon and silver bullets. I am impressed with this film. First, Universal Studios decided, after having success with Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Mummy to make a new monster film with its own myth, that has lasted for generations! Then there’s Lon Chaney Jr.’s performance. What a charming, gentle soul Larry Talbot is. This makes it heartbreaking to see this man go through such torment as he learns that he has become a werewolf. Though you only get a glimpse of a transformation, the look of 1941’s Wolfman is iconic and should be watched by future generations.
Won’t you please, won’t you please? Please, won’t you be my neighbor? ~ Mr. Rogers
“Listening is where love begins. Listening to ourselves and then our neighbors,”
~ Mr. Rogers (intro to Werewolves Within 2021)
Finn Wheeler, a considerate US Forest Ranger, gets assigned to a town called Beaverfield, and finds a town divided over a proposed pipeline. A severe blizzard leaves the inhabitants trapped and without power. When Finn goes to investigate the cause he finds all the generators have huge claw marks, and the innkeeper’s husband is found dead under the house! Who could have done this? And could they also be a werewolf?
The tagline for Werewolves Within is, “A whodunnit with teeth!” Boy is that accurate! This had me guessing until the end. If you like Fargo and Knives Out then I think you should add this film to your spooky listings.
Well, it seems this meeting has come close, and remember don’t let the werewolves bite!
Did you like these recommendations? What other not-so-scary cinematic choices do you have?