Back in 2014, the world was introduced to the great white North’s small, rural community of Woodhaven, when alcoholic cop Lou Garou sprouted a few hairs on his chest and saved the locals from a gang of evil reptilian shapeshifters. Given the unanimous positive buzz for the film, Cinecoup couldn’t resist green-lighting a sequel before the first film even released. And now, two years on, Another WolfCop will be making its world premiere at Austin’s Fantastic Fest.
With Lou Garou (Leo Fafard) back on the streets of Woodhaven, gleefully and violently disposing of criminals and causing all manner of problems for his former-partner-turned-Chief of Police Tina (Amy Matysio), we caught up with director Lowell Dean to find out just how bigger, badder, dirtier, and hairier his loopy lupine sequel really is…
Dread Central: The first time round, WolfCop became a feature as a result of winning the Cinecoup prize money of one million dollars. How has the financing differed this time, and what have been the advantages and problems you’ve experienced as a result of the financing route taken?
Lowell Dean: Actually, both the first and second WolfCop were financed through conventional methods. What was unique about the first film was – like you mentioned – that it was chosen for production by Cinecoup after competing with 90 others for selection. The big advantage for the sequel, Another WolfCop, is that we didn’t have to spend 3 months pitching it! Cinecoup wanted to make it as soon as we finished the first one. The hard part with the sequel was that our budget needed to be bigger – just over two million dollars. So it took longer to raise the financing before we could go and make the film.
DC: With the title being Another WolfCop, is that just a tip of the hat to titles like TeenWolf Too or is there a teasing hint relating to the plot there?
LD: Yeah, the title is more just for fun and to indicate the tone of the film. It doesn’t hint at anything plot related. Or… DOES it?
DC: The first film is definitely one of the zanier werewolf horror/comedies out there. I imagine you were super conscious about whether or not people would appreciate just how the off the wall the comedy was when you were writing. Now that the first film has been a success, did that allow you to just let your creative juices flow and really let the comedy go as wild and weird as you wanted, or exactly the opposite?
LD: I was overjoyed that people responded to the first film, especially to all the really weird stuff that I loved putting in there – like the first transformation and the sex scene. Based on the reaction, I felt obliged to go even weirder and just let my freak flag fly with this next go-round. Many sequels focus on going bigger, and while we couldn’t really go smaller than the first film, my focus for the sequel was more on the characters and going crazier instead of bigger. Mark my words, Another WolfCop will make WolfCop seems tame by comparison. There’s a lot you can’t “unsee” in this film.
DC: Last time we spoke, I remember you telling me that for the first film you didn’t want to do an origins story at first but then you realised you really had to. Having got the origin bit out of the way, has that made the writing process easier or did you find it a tough challenge to remain true to the mythology and the characters you created in the original?
LD: Another WolfCop was tougher than the first film in every respect. In terms of writing, I knew I wanted to tell a story about Lou being really cocky at first – emboldened by his new werewolf powers – and then being humbled into realizing he still has a long way to go to becoming a true hero. If the first film was “WolfCop Begins” this is certainly “WolfCop Continues” or “WolfCop still has a lot to learn.” As for the mythology, that was just the fun part – the icing on the cake that grows the universe and serves the story and the characters. For me, the characters come first. Like the first film, the core and the heart of WolfCop is Lou’s relationships with Tina and Willie.
DC: And what about Leo Fafard and Amy Matysio returning for the sequel? Has it been easy for them to slip back into character after two years and have you changed much in terms of their characters, particularly the fact that Lou’s secret is no secret now? Has that fact changed him much or, as it’s a comedy, is it just taken as a normal thing that there’s a WolfCop patrolling the streets?
LD: I don’t know how easy it was for Amy and Leo to slip back into being Tina and Lou, but I will say they made it look easy. One of the big joys of making Another WolfCop was getting to spend time with my friends again. And not just Amy and Leo, but Tina and Lou as well! I love those characters. Lou is far more confident in the sequel, but he’s still a bit of a screw up. Tina is still a force to be reckoned with, but now she’s the Chief of the Woodhaven Police Department. So now both Lou and Tina have power behind them – and they’re in direct conflict with one another. As for if WolfCop is just casually patrolling the streets in the sequel, I’ll let you see the film and find out…
DC: As Lou tried concealing his secret in the first film, now that his secret’s out, will this be more of a buddy cop movie with him and Tina patrolling the streets?
LD: IS his secret out? Do the citizens of Woodhaven know about WolfCop? Again, you will need to see Another WolfCop to find out. And yes, there is certainly a buddy cop aspect to this film with Lou and Tina. I’m heavily inspired by ’80s action films like Lethal Weapon for their relationship.
DC: All that’s really been revealed about the sequel is that we’ll be introduced to a billionaire businessman who reopens the local brewery to produce Chicken Milk Stout, and also gifts the town with its very own hockey team, the Darkstars. Does that mean we can expect some sharp satire with the corporate world bearing the brunt of much of the humor?
LD: I think that’s a safe bet. We try to do it all in a playful way – but there are certainly some messages under the surface if you want to dig around.
DC: When WolfCop screened at 2014’s FrightFest it won the award for Best Penis Trauma for the “Transformation from cock to wolfcock.” Has Emersen Ziffle and the effects department upped the ante this time with even more “traumatic” transformations and bloodshed?
LD: New awards will have to be created for Emersen Ziffle after this film! He and his team did wonderful work and created some truly bizarre cinematic moments. I can’t wait to watch people watching them. Side note: I’m just really happy that a “best penis trauma” award exists… and that we won it!
DC: A sequel was confirmed just before the first was even released. Do you have plans for more WolfCop or are you hoping to focus on something else before continuing Lou Garou’s story?
LD: I do feel like I’ve been “living the life of WolfCop” for the past 4 years, so it would be nice to try something new. I’d like to direct more horror and films of other genres. I’m also developing some pretty cool TV show concepts. That being said, I genuinely love the world of WolfCop and I have outlines for at least two more WolfCop films, so I guess time will tell!
Another WolfCop will screen at this year’s Fantastic Fest on Sunday, September 25 and Wednesday, September 28. You’d be howling mad to miss it…
After saving Woodhaven from a gang of evil reptilian shapeshifters, alcoholic werewolf cop Lou Garou is finding it hard to keep a low profile. Instead, he roams the street at night, gleefully and violently disposing of criminals and stealing boxes of Liquor Donuts causing all sorts of problems for his former-partner-turned-chief Tina.
Things begin to look up for the loser residents of Woodhaven when a billionaire businessman announces he’s reopening the local brewery to produce Chicken Milk Stout, as well as gifting the town with its very own hockey team, the Darkstars. However, the unexpected return of an old friend (who now sports a large foul-mouthed mustachioed phallus) and a strip joint bloodbath alert Wolfcop to the rise of something evil to the town.
Why Brad Anderson’s Session 9 Scared the Hell Out of Me
Invariably, working for sites such as Dread Central, I am always asked the question, “What is the scariest movie you have ever seen?” And, well, truth be told, movies don’t tend to scare me that often. Sure, there are my go-to flicks time and time again such as The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, and Lake Mungo. But sure enough, every time I spout out that list to a fellow horror fan, they always follow up with, “Well, what is the scariest movie you’ve ever seen that ISN’T found footage?” Fair enough question.
Now, while I’m not going to go into what I consider to be the scariest non-found footage horror movies (we’ll get into all of that at some later date), I do want to point out a movie in particular here today. The way it goes is that when I tell people my list of scariest non-found footage films, they always nod in agreement. Until, that is, I get to a film called Session 9. It is at that point that whomever I am talking to cocks their head to the side and says, “I’ve never heard of that one.” Which is a shame, and it happens far too often. So today I want to, yet again, give anyone and everyone who’s willing to listen the recommend.
Let’s begin with a quick rundown of the film. Session 9 was written and directed by Brad Anderson, who is a name you might recognize as the creative force behind such films as The Vanishing on 7th Street, Transsiberian, and the “Christian Bale is as skinny as a skeleton” mindfuck The Machinist.
But as good as those film may (or may not) be, without a doubt Anderson’s masterpiece is Session 9. Written specifically to be filmed inside the Danvers State Mental Hospital, the film stars David Caruso (don’t let that stop you), Peter Mullan, Josh Lucas, and a few other gents as a group of asbestos removal guys who are possibly haunted within the walls of the institute while on a job.
If that rundown isn’t the best, here is the film’s official synopsis: “A tale of terror when a group of asbestos removal workers starts work in an abandoned insane asylum. The complex of buildings looms up out of the woods like a dormant beast. Grand, imposing…abandoned, deteriorating. The residents of Danvers, Massachusetts, steer well clear of the place. But Danvers State Mental Hospital closed down for 15 years is about to receive five new visitors…”
Brrr… freaky enough, right? Well, trust me; the actual film is leaps and bounds better than even that creeper synopsis lets on. And best of all, with all horror and terror aside, the film is a tight flick about a group of men and how they interact as a team. While that may not sound too appealing, the actors – yes, even David Caruso – make for a lovable group of grumps that I enjoyed spending 90 minutes with.
Let’s talk about the horror for a second. You have to wait until the end, but once it hits (full force), it is well worth the wait. The first two thirds of the film is creepy but mostly about the men and the job. Horror looms in the background at all times, sure, but it isn’t until the final act that the shit really hits the fan. And boy, does it. The final act is as bloody as any slasher you could ever hope for and even features a fun, very cool cameo by Mr. Larry Fessenden himself. But it is the final, give or take, 30 seconds of the film that still haunts me to this day.
You see, the film is constantly playing a game of “Is it ghosts? Is it all in your head? Or is there a human element to the horror?” And that game comes to nightmarish reality in the film’s final moments. I specifically remember having fun with the film until its last frames. That was when I needed to turn the lights on. But that still didn’t help. The horrors that Session 9 presents in its final moments are horrors where there is nowhere to run, no way to prevent it from finding you in the darkness, and no way to save yourself, or your loved ones, if it finds you.
“I live in the weak and the wounded.”
Being that I am prone to being one of those dudes that lets shit bottle up inside until I explode (sad but true), this film is fucking terrifying to me. I get it. I fear it. And I hope you will too. As kids, we need cautionary tales, and let’s not forget that we as adults do too sometimes. Session 9 is a warning for grown-ups. You almost deserve it for yourself and your loved ones to see this film and allow it to sink in. Just don’t expect to sleep for a few nights…
In the end, why did Session 9 scare the hell out me so bad? Was it that voice that haunts my dreams to this day, or was it what the voice says? I’m still not sure. But trust me when I say that Brad Anderson’s Session 9 is one of the absolute scariest films I have ever seen. If you haven’t given the film its day in court yet, remedy that ASAP and thank me (or hate me) later.
The Nuclear Explosion Scene in Terminator 2 Still Haunts Me After More Than 20 Years
A beautiful, bright, sunny day on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Children frolic and delight at a picturesque playground. A merry-go-round spins lazily, a see-saw goes up, then down, then up, then down, over and over, a swing set glides back and forth, ever higher. It should be the setting of a moment of happiness and joy. Instead, it is the canvas for one of cinema’s most nightmarish and enduring scenes.
A bright flash goes off in the distance and everyone, parents and children alike, duck on the ground only for their bodies, and the ground itself, to smolder, smoke, and then burst into flame from the intense heat. The buildings in the distance evaporate, blown apart by a growing dome of fire that burns hotter than the core of the sun. Cars and busses are blown away like leaves off a tree on a windy day as infrastructure crumbles.
Back at the playground, all those miles away, everyone is screaming as their bodies blister and char, turning their limbs into brittle ash. The shockwave reaches them and they disintegrate, their bodies becoming little more than clouds of their former selves.
If you need a reminder how horrific Sarah Connor’s nuclear explosion nightmare was, here you go.
A testament to the hard work of effects company 4Ward Productions, the nuclear bomb nightmare in James Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day has been hailed by scientists has being one of the most realistic depictions in a film. Created by using incredibly detailed miniature sets, matte paintings, air cannons, and prosthetic body doubles, the sequence required multiple takes, went through a myriad of issues, and ultimately ended up as Cameron’s, “…favorite fucking shot in the movie.” [Source]
For me, it’s just as haunting today as it was when I first saw it over 20 years ago. Seeing innocent children quite literally explode in front of my eyes was a shocking moment for someone who, at a young age, thought kids were exempt from being harmed in movies. Then seeing Sarah’s flesh peel away to reveal a skeleton clinging to that fence as her chilling scream echoed through the air? That ruined me then and it still makes me wince and turn my head now.
Even knowing that it’s all a part of Connor’s nightmare doesn’t detract from the terror of that vision. After all, what can a nightmare add to a nuclear explosion to make it more frightening than it already is?
If you want to read an incredibly in-depth piece about how the sequence was created, from inception to actual filming, there’s a wonderful article over at Cartoon Brew that details every aspect of the scene. If you want a mini-version, you can watch the below video.
Also, some quick interesting facts about that scene: Linda Hamilton’s twin sister, Leslie Hamilton Gearren, played the happy Sarah Connor in the playground and the infant John Connor is played by Hamilton’s own son, Dalton Abbott. The more you know!
Open Letter: I Miss Found Footage Flicks
I don’t know about you, but I miss the hell out of found footage flicks. Is it just me? I don’t think so. I think there are plenty of peeps out there that appreciated found footage for what it was/is and would like to see it continue forward.
With that in mind, here is my open letter to whoever might be listening (Blumhouse. Cough. Indie filmmakers. Cough.) to not forget about the once massively popular subgenre of filmmaking.
So let’s get to it.
Found footage got a bad rap seemingly from the moment it was invented. Sure, Cannibal Holocaust garnered massive amounts of controversy – and even underwent a fucking criminal trial – but that was for other issues, of course. That said, I wonder when the film hit if people said, “Oh, it was just an easy/lazy way to make cash” or “God, enough already!” I don’t know. I wasn’t alive back then. But I do know that, specifically, after the massive success of the first Paranormal Activity flick, more and more I began seeing reviews and comments online filled with peeps spewing vile hatred toward the subgenre. I didn’t get it back then, and I still don’t get it to this day. Well, I kinda get it. But I respectfully disagree with the haters.
Speaking of which, here is why I think people HATE found footage. It was/is easy and lazy filmmaking. Not. True. At all. Have you ever attempted to make a found footage film? It’s fucking hard. There are so many “rules” to the genre and hurdles to overcome that it is for all intents and purposes MORE difficult to make a (proper) found footage film. Allow me to explain a bit. First off, films of any and all kinds/subgenres need a certain amount of coverage to express the geography of any particular scene, and the emotional toll the events are having on all of the characters in play. Both very hard to do when you have a subjective point of view. Tip: security cameras help get your wide/establishing shots. Drawback: what if you’re filming in the woods? Exactly.
Found footage filmmakers can’t just show up on set and give the classic directions of “Let’s do an establishing shot, punch-in for a medium, then snag over-the-shoulders, singles, and move on.” Doesn’t work like that in found footage. Found footage directors and DPs must always think of creative ways to cover their scenes to put across the necessary information… or have the f*cking scary level of confidence to leave important info off the screen. You know, like people’s reactions to what they are seeing. There is a film out there called Mr. Jones that tried to attach (for lack of a better term) a backward-camera to the main camera, thus showing us not only what our protagonist was looking at, but his/her face the entire time as well, but personally, this only annoyed me and resulted in one of the lesser found footage films I’ve seen. Nice try though. Points for being inventive.
And since we’re on the subject of inventiveness, this is why I love found footage. Out of all the films I have ever seen, the top three that scared me the most (like legit “standing around in a field in broad daylight a week later looking over my shoulder and trying not to cry” scared) are The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, and Lake Mungo. All three are found footage. Sure, Lake Mungo is more mockumentary, but everyone considers faux-docs a part of found footage, so let’s not split hairs here. Anyhow, I think these scared me so much because the films basically let you live out a horror movie through the eyes of the characters inside the film. I accept this filmmaking innovation (yes, innovation) and love the experience 9/10 times. In fact, it’s hard to find a found footage film I haven’t enjoyed. They exist for sure, but I’m not here to name names. (Other than The Pyramid. Fuck that movie.) But a few flicks aside I dig the idea of watching horror from behind the eyes of the lead(s).
So why not just make movies that assume the position of the protagonist’s actual eyeballs? They have. Hardcore Henry (not horror, but still) and You Are Not Alone both tried this technique and it didn’t work. At least not for this guy. There’s something boring and synthetic about that experience. Hence, the fear is almost impossible to capture. Scary movies tend to work because we as the audience don’t see the filmmaking elements in play in something like The Shining or The Exorcist. Wait, you say, I notice the filmmaking techniques in those films and more. Sure. I get you. But the trick to those films is you shouldn’t notice the cuts and the coverage. The POV films I mentioned above are off-putting because we as modern audiences have learned to disregard things such as editing (especially when cuts are made on movement) and the POV film is merely a constant reminder we are watching a movie.
Found footage, however, splits the difference. Especially in this day and age when people are filming all the time. It feels natural. It feels real. And thus it has the ability to be more fucking bone-shatteringly terrifying than even the most “invisibly-made” standard film. If you buy into it, of course. And therein lies the rub. Lots of folks out there just can’t use “suspension of disbelief” when it comes to found footage. They can buy that 9/11 Godzillas exist and that there are witches in the black hills outside Burketsville, but cannot buy into the reality that those batteries last THAT long, and why the protagonists didn’t just drop the fucking camera and run. Speaking of which, “just drop the fucking camera and run” is something most people get positively furious at. For real. I have engaged in quite a few pro-found footage debates and I have seen detractors literally freak out like the chick in the subway in Possession. The hate runs deep. But I guess I get it. People need logic. Even if the events onscreen defy logic. That’s just the way it is. Fair enough. Never bothers me though. Yes, even when filmmakers incorporate score into their found footage flicks, I’m still with them. I get it. It’s all good.
All of that ranted and raved, I think found footage should make a comeback. And more specifically, I think found footage should be recognized as a worthy subgenre of horror and not just a fad that happened in the mid-00’s. Found footage should be a constant mainstay at the movies. Meaning VOD, really. Found footage in theaters always kinda defeated the purpose in the first place. But still, who else out there misses found footage and wishes talented filmmakers were still giving the subgenre some love?
Let us know below!
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