Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Heidi Johanningmeier, Michael Frascino, Agim Kaba, Veronica Cartwright, Megan Pepin, Tiffany Shepis
Directed by Yvan Gauthier
I think I first did a story about the rock ‘n roll werewolf movie Neowolf 2-3 years ago. It has since been hideously retitled The Band from Hell by a distributor that clearly wanted to ensure the film goes unseen. Going unseen would be easy enough as is since the recent DVD release slipped further under the radar than one of those military spy drones. I must say having viewed the film, if it did go unseen, you wouldn’t be missing much.
The dramatic core of the film is supposed to be the love story between college girl Rosemary and her wannabe rocker ex-boyfriend Tony. “Supposed to be” because for the life of me I cannot fathom why we should care; he clearly doesn’t deserve her and she keeps longing for him despite his philandering behavior. They first broke up because Tony was all about living the partying, womanizing, rocker lifestyle. He shows up back on campus to beg her to give him another chance. Never a good idea to start scoping out the rear end of a passing woman as the ex-girlfriend you’re trying to win back is telling you to look her in the eye and swear you’ve changed. Rosemary tells him off and then goes right back to being hung up on him. Gets stood up again shortly thereafter while he’s off having sex with another woman and still she continues to pine for him. Yet, we’re supposed to truly care for these two and want to see them get together?
The movie’s sex scenes, why do they all take place out in the desert? I realize most of this very low budget movie (How low? They could afford to bring in Tiffany Shepis for a small role but not enough to get her naked) takes place out in the New Mexico desert, but on multiple occasions a guy and girl just lay down in the dirt and start doing it in slow motion without even so much as putting down some sort of cloth. This, uh, this does not look sexy and it certainly doesn’t look comfortable. Kept waiting for some tarantulas, scorpions, or rattlesnakes to wander in to kill the mood.
Tony’s sexual escapades are the least of their relationship difficulties. He’s trying to get the lead singer gig with Neowolf, a touring rock band that got its start in Eastern Europe even though nobody in the band speaks with an accent, a band of werewolves looking to recruit a new lead singer after having eaten their last one. You have to become one to join and get mutilated when booted out.
The script neglects to develop the personalities of the Neowolf band mates to the film’s detriment. The leader of the pack has no personality aside from coming across as a cool customer that specializes in mouthing off generic platitudes about giving in to the dark side, the other band members are just sort of there, and their she-wolf groupie is nothing more than eye candy there to seduce and kill. The Band from Hell could have used a few less musical numbers in favor of a few more minutes fleshing this band from hell out.
Things take a poor man’s Lost Boys turn what with the leader of the band doing the Kiefer Sutherland shtick with Tony and that pesky rule about how you don’t become a full-fledged werewolf until you’ve made your first kill.
Tony’s first transformation will see him running off into the desert buck naked. This form of lycanthropy it would seem also causes the cursed to spontaneously grow blue jeans in addition to the usual fur, fangs, and claws.
I suspect the bulk of the budget went towards the werewolf make-up and effects. Not bad. Not great. Perfectly acceptable. Unfortunately, there’s not that much on-camera werewolf action until the climax.
Rosemary becomes convinced in unbelievably quick fashion given the complete lack of evidence to support her belief that there is something sinister about Neowolf, possibly even supernatural. Sure enough, a quick Google search reveals a website dedicated to warning people about the mysterious deaths of Neowolf band members and such. She immediately deduces – again, with little corroborating evidence – that Neowolf is a band of werewolves. Wait until she hears about all the drummers in Spinal Tap; she’ll probably be convinced they’re werewolves too.
Rosemary then goes all Nancy Drew as she seeks to spy on Neowolf to prove her werewolf theory. By the end she’ll have become a shotgun-toting, werewolf-hunting Buffy, assisted by veteran actress Veronica Cartwright, practically doing the Giles/”Watcher” role.
Forty-five minutes into The Band from Hell I realized not a whole heck of a lot had happened up to that point. Another case of a very thin, very familiar story stretched out at a needlessly plodding pace, with the added annoyance of entirely too much gratuitous slo-mo and other music video editing techniques, in addition to being heavily padded with musical performances that did not make me want to rush out to get the soundtrack. Though not a movie from hell, The Band from Hell remains one of those movies that’s no good simply because it fails to entertain.
1 1/2 out of 5
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