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Dino Wolf (2011)

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Dino WolfStarring Maxwell Caulfield, Steven Lee Allen, Dawn Ann Billings, Kristen Howe, Gil Gerard

Directed by Fred Olen Ray


We’ve had a Dinocroc and a Dinoshark so why not a Dino Wolf?

Technically speaking, though, it’s not really a dino wolf. It’s really a genetically engineered dire wolf. The dire wolf was a large, vicious, predatory wolf that went extinct back in prehistoric times. Technically speaking, again, it’s not quite a dire wolf either. The experiment that brings it back to life tossed in some human DNA, resulting in a creature that is more werewolf than dire wolf. No shape-changing or full moons necessary; it was born a wolfman and will die a wolfman. The dino wolf looks exactly like a werewolf that I think is supposed to run around on all fours but really appears as if the actor in the suit is squatting most of the time.

With an emphasis on practical special effects over computer animation, Fred Olen Ray should be applauded for going this route with his latest creature feature. Had this been a Syfy movie, the monster would have been a fully computer-generated dire wolf and probably wouldn’t have looked anywhere near as realistically ghastly as this monster suit does. Yeah, it’s obviously a werewolf suit, but it’s a damn good one.

Even the blood and gore make-up and effects are also practical.

Much like the monster, the movie itself is something of a mutant hybrid: a 21st century melding of 1950’s monster movie aesthetics with 1980’s horror movie sensibilities. It’s shot like a present day Syfy movie. The plot isn’t that far removed from an atomic age monster movie (the ending is straight out of The Thing from Another World). It’s also a gruesome slasher-styled bloodbath a la so much of 1980’s horror.

Surprisingly, especially when you consider this is the same Fred Olen Ray who has churned out a plethora of late night Cinemax softcore sex flicks in recent years, there is a distinct lack of T&A you would expect from a movie such as this. You’ll get some titillation; you just won’t get any tit.

Dino Wolf opens like gangbusters, wasting no time showing us the beast escaping its confines and reducing several people to a bloody pulp. The moment that wolf suit reared its wonderfully ugly head, I knew this was a film after my own heart.

Then we’re introduced to Maxwell Caulfield as an anal retentive small town sheriff in a diner ordering his daily breakfast. This uptight officer of the law is so meticulous how his food is positioned on the plate is every bit as important as how it is cooked. He is so observant he deduces immediately that something has happened to a local citizen because this regular patron of the diner isn’t seated where he typically sits each day.

A werewolf suit monster on the rampage and an idiosyncratic hero cop with an almost Sherlock Holmes-ian attention to detail; the opening ten or so minutes of Dino Wolf had me thinking I was in for something really special. From there out it became less and less special with each passing moment. For the sort of movie it is, it really isn’t that bad of a movie, I still couldn’t help but come away feeling a tad underwhelmed. Those opening scenes crackled; the rest tends to fizzle.

The first problem is the inclusion of too many main characters. Caulfield gets such a strong introduction and then gets lost in the shuffle of one-note scientists and government agents, the young deputy desperate to save the ex-girlfriend he still pines for from the creature chasing her for most of the movie, and all the random victims introduced just long enough to establish their existence.

Part of the problem stems from the monster itself. Not the suit. I loved the suit. I have no complaints about the look of the monster. My issue is with how it kills. The body count may be quite high, but once you’ve seen it tackle someone to the ground and maul him to a bloody pulp, it gets old after you’ve seen it again for the seventh, eighth, and ninth time. In one scene it pinned someone to a tree as it slashed him to ribbons; that’s about as inventively staged as these kills get.

When I read that Roy Kynrim’s SOTA Effects created the outstanding dire werewolf suit, it was quite ironic to me because the carnage in Dino Wolf reminded me very much of the monster kills in Kynrim’s own gory creature feature, Cemetery Gates, a few years back. Even more ironic is how I seem to recall the repetitious nature of those kills being my biggest gripe with that film as well.


2 1/2 out of 5

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Inside (Remake) Review – Is It as Brutal as the Original?

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Starring Rachel Nichols Laura Harring

Directed by Miguel Ángel Vivas


While the directing duo of the cringe-inducing and original 2007 French grand guignol thriller Inside have gone on to refurbishments of their own—Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo recently helmed a retread of Leatherface’s origin story—their flick now has an American stamp on it with the release of the remake, also titled Inside.

A cheerless Christmas eve sets the stage for heavily-pregnant widow Sarah’s (Rachel Nichols) oncoming ordeal. It’s a frigid and snowy night. She’s got a huge house to herself, following the accidental and violent death of her husband. She wants to sell the home that was meant to hold a family, to forget the nascent memories it once held. But she’s got to ride it out until the baby is born. While Sarah is lonesome, she won’t be alone. She’s got her genial gay neighbor nearby, and her mum is going to come and stay with her for a few days. Oh, and there will be an unexpected visitor too.

When a shadowy, seemingly stranded stranger (Laura Harring) knocks on the door pleading to be let inside, Sarah instinctively balks. She even calls the cops. But the woman leaves and all seems well. Crisis averted. Sarah puts the housekeys in the mailbox outside for Mom, and goes to bed. Big mistake.

Mystery Lady shows up at Sarah’s bedside armed with chloroform, an IV bag, and a case full of sharp-and-pointies (sorry, ’07 fans… those implements do not include a pair of scissors). The horror unfolds and the expected yet lively game of gory cat-and-mouse ensues. Then the tete-a-tete becomes a body-count chiller featuring one shocking moment after another.

Nichols is fantastic in the role, giving it her all. When the original Inside came out eleven years ago, she was starring in another French-helmed horror, P2—also set on Christmas eve—and she stole the show. She does the same here but with a less-intense adversary. Harring’s killer character, unlike her European counterpart, has a lot to say—which takes away from her initially mysterious manner as the minutes tick off. Still, the girl-on-girl action is a welcome change from the usual gender dynamic one sees in these things. Both deserve kudos for their performances.

While Inside isn’t a died-in-the-wool “Hollywood” remake (Miguel Ángel Vivas directs, while [REC] co-creator Jaume Balagueró wrote it) it feels like one. For those who’ve seen the original, there will be mild disappointment (which turns to major letdown at the very end). However, Inside is still a serviceable thriller that’s well-acted, beautifully shot, and effectively scored. Folks coming in fresh, and casual horror fans, will more than likely enjoy it.

  • Inside (Remake)
3.0

Summary

Inside is a serviceable thriller that’s well-acted, beautifully shot, and effectively scored. Folks coming in fresh, and casual horror fans, will more than likely enjoy it. For those who’ve seen the original, there will be mild disappointment (which turns to major letdown at the very end).

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What If Tina Fey Wrote Jennifer’s Body? My Friend’s Exorcism Book Review

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“Rummaging in one of his duffel bags, [the exorcist] pulled out and athletic cup and slid it down the front of his pants. ‘First place they go for,’ he explained. He then adjusted himself and picked up a well-worn Bible. ‘Let’s do the Lord’s work.'”

It was about a year ago now (it seems) that I first saw the cover of “My Best Friend’s Exorcism.” If you haven’t seen it for yourself in all of its glory, make sure to click the image over to the right for a more in-depth look. Awesome, right? Got to love all the VHS details such as the “Horror” and “Be Kind Rewind” stickers. Classic. Utter classic.

Now I’m fully aware that one should not judge a book by its cover. Literally. But still the moment I saw this work of delicious art crop up in the inbox I had to read the book asap. Well, it turns out asap was about a year later, but all the same, I’ve now had a peek at the inside of the book as well as the outside. Does the content inside match the content outside?

Let’s find out…

For those who might not know, “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” (henceforth referred to as MBFE) tells the tale of two best friends named Abby and Grethen. One night the two, and a few of there other friends, drop a bit of acid for the first time. While the drug never kicks in (no worries, there’s no lame twist-ending to be had here) poor Gretchen still wanders off into the woods and gets possessed like a motherf*cker in some creepy abandoned building. From there, things go from bad to worse until an unlikely exorcist is called in and things go off the wicked walls in all the best ways possible.

Now, to review. First of all, let it be know that MBFE is more of a teen romance (between two friends) than a straight tale of terror. Think of it as “What if Tina Fey wrote Jennifer’s Body?” and that will give you a good hint at what the book holds in store for you. Not that that’s a bad thing. Still, you should be aware that the first 2/3 of the book is almost exclusively teenagers not getting along, bitch about losing touch, who is sleeping with who, and yada, yada, yada for pages on end. Dramarama for days. Mostly.

That said, not only is the teen drama bearable (and truthfully quite sweet in spots), Hendrix keeps the horror in the spotlight just enough that I never lost faith the book was heading somewhere truly balls to the wall. And it does. Oh, boy does it. From the time the unholy shite hits the fan in the last third, to the time the last word is read, the book is filled with horror moments that will make even the most jaded fright-fiction fan gag, grimace, or stand up and cheer!

You just have to get through all the angst first…

But speaking of angst, let me get a bit of extremely personal business out of the way real quick. Can I trust you with this info? Sure I can. MBFE made is cry like a baby. Not kidding. There have been very few times in my life that I have literally burst out crying. I’ve had some sad shite happen in my days, and I have seen some sad-ass movies, but nothing has made me cry out of the f*cking blue like MBFE. I’m not going to go into details about the final 10 pages of the book, but it tore my poor horror-heart a new one. It was bad. Like snot and hyperventilating type shite. Again, not kidding. Thank the lord I wasn’t in public is all I can say. I would have arrested and thrown in the booby-hatch.

MBFE goes along like a slightly horror-centric version of Mean Girls and Heathers for most of its page count. If you’re a straight horror fan, you’ll be at odds with whether you should bother finishing it or not. You will. Trust me. But listen to me now and know that once our heroine goes into the dark, dank bedroom of the school’s resident bitch to find out why she hasn’t been in school the past few days/weeks, the horror hits like holy hell. And it only gets worse (RE: better) from there.

In the end, MBFE is a book ever horror fan should own – if only for the cover. I dug the hell out of the book (eventually) and I’m sure the majority of you guys will too. But even for those hard-hearts out there that just can’t stand to read about things like uncompromising love, and hellfire-forged friendship, you still need to own the book. You still owe it to yourself to give it a try. If you don’t care for it, that’s cool, just display in on your bookshelf in all it’s VHS glory. It will make you look cool.

  • My Best Friend's Exorcism - Book Review
3.5

Summary

Grady Hendrix’s “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” is a killer mixture of Mean Girls, Heathers, and The Exorcist. Just think of it as “What if Tina Fey wrote Jennifer’s Body” and you’ll have a good indication of what lies in store for you within the amazing VHS-inspired cover art.

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Knock Knock Review – This Throwback To The VHS Era Packs A Fun Punch

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Starring Kerry Tartack, Sisi Berry, Chuk Hell

Directed by Toby Canto


I remember the glory days of my youth back in the early to mid-80’s, renting every friggin horror flick on VHS and keeping the cassettes well past the return dates, eventually blacklisting my name from damn near all of the movie shops in my hometown. For the sole reason of wanting to hop back in the time-machine, I’ll never turn down the opportunity to check out a film that promises to ship you back to the days of all of that cheesy-neon attire and overblown hairdos.

Director Toby Canto was generous enough to offer his latest film up onto the sacrificial stone, and it’s called Knock Knock – about a WAY past his prime pugilist named Sam (Tartack) who is unwillingly thrust into a throwdown with a bloodsucker who happens to reside in the same apartment – damn noisy neighbors! His only birthday wish is to spend his 60th go-round safely hold up in his domicile, away from pesky residents alike. Well, that plan goes to shit when his kooky neighbor (Berry) comes by and pitches the idea of throwing hands with the newest tenant: a real creature of the night (Lucas Ayoub).

Sam initially nixes the idea wholeheartedly, but when more of his quirky neighbors show up to his place to substantiate the vampiric-claims, Sam finds himself lacing up the leather for one more round…or two, depending on if he can still take a beating. Filled with more than a handful of goofy instances, this near-hour presentation won’t blow the doors off of the horror/com vehicle, but should more than suffice in the short-term until the next spooky-laugher comes slithering out of its hole.

  • Film
3.0

Summary

Historians alike, this movie’s for those who want a reminder of how loopy those VHS days were, and the best part is you don’t have to rewind a freakin’ thing.

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