Starring Richard Tyson, Trevor Duke, Kimberly J. Brown, Christopher Shyer, Sarah Christine Smith, Robin Sydney, Clint Howard, David Naughton
Written & Directed by Lance W. Dreesen
I’ve been reading about the production of Big Bad Wolf on various websites all over, including this very own, ever since the film was announced. A lot of horror sites have clearly been hoping that this would be the great werewolf movie we’re long overdue. Sadly, it’s not. Big Bad Wolf isn’t a bad movie, but it’s not all that good either. It’s certainly nothing special, damn sure not the slightest bit original. Yeah, it features a talking werewolf. Big deal. This werewolf’s voice sounds an awful lot like Freddy Krueger’s. Problem is everything that comes out of its mouth sounds like a Freddy Krueger one-liner and I’m talking about the one-liners that Freddy was spouting off in crappier sequels like The Dream Child and Freddy’s Dead; a constant barrage of insipid wisecracks mixed with random grunts and spurts of pointless cackling. That was the stuff that ultimately turned Freddy from being cool horror icon to one that had become passé. Well, that and just appearing in crappy sequels. What makes Big Bad Wolf‘s Were-Freddy especially annoying is how – aside from the usual drunken, horny teenager antics early on – the non-werewolf scenes are played fairly straightforward while the werewolf stuff is too corny, reduced to just being your typical wisecracking movie slasher, one with enough fur to match its cheese.
Richard Tyson goes from Two Moon Junction to full moon dysfunction playing Mitchell Toblat, the titular big bad wolf. I don’t think I’m giving anything away by revealing his character to be the werewolf since the movie reveals it within the first half hour and then spends the next forty or so making us watch characters go to extreme lengths to prove he is what we already know him to be. It’s the same problem seen in Stephen King’s Silver Bullet in how the identity of the werewolf is revealed early on and then we’re expected to remain on the edge of our seats as others try to prove it so. This is just one of the reasons why the majority of the movie’s midsection amounts to a whole lot of blah.
There’s also a problem with the wolf’s dual personalities not matching up. Tyson does a really fine job playing the human side of Mitchell Toblat as a genuine prick, always seething with a threatening level of intensity. But that just goes to make Toblat’s wisecracking werewolf side all the more jarring and not in tune with his everyday persona. I suppose one could argue the werewolf represents the unleashing of his id, but that would require a smarter screenplay that actually puts some thought into the segments not involving people getting dismembered. I’ve no problem with a talking werewolf or even having it belt out some funny lines. I just wish that everything it said wasn’t a bad joke; very little of what he says is witty. When a movie has a werewolf throw a person hard to the ground and yell “Down goes Frazier!” like Howard Cossell and no, the character he just KO’d wasn’t named Frasier either… Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf, especially one that can’t stop making lame puns?
They’ve even made this werewolf a sexual predator that rapes more than one unlucky female victim before killing her and even that aspect is played for comedic effect. I realize this movie was meant to be campy and doesn’t take itself too seriously, but still … Come on. This is the first werewolf movie I’ve ever seen where the wolf-man’s human side was actually a more intimidating persona than its monstrous side.
Speaking of that monstrous side, the full body werewolf costume is a pretty good one, though I’d be remiss if I didn’t say there weren’t a few moments when it looked to obviously like a costume. Those of you that are sticklers for werewolf transformation scenes, the lone morphing sequence would have been pretty good had the digital morphing not been so obviously computer generated.
Much of the first 20 or so minutes are built around young Derek and his horny friends heading up to his stand-offish stepfather’s cabin in the woods; the same cabin stepdad has ordered him to stay away from. Derek figures they can get away with him not knowing since stepfather Mitch is (supposedly) off on a business trip that evening. Also joining them is Sam (as in Samantha), Derek’s tomboyish punk rocker old chum (and potential future love interest) from grade school, a surly female who always looks ready to attend a Disturbed concert. After a good deal of drunken debauchery, except on the part of twerpy Derek and can’t-get-along-with-anyone Sam, along comes the werewolf to lay waste to everyone not named Derek or Sam.
Oh, just a quick shout out to all my friends based on something I saw in this movie. If a werewolf ever lifts me in the air by the throat and lets me know that he’s about to rip my balls off, would it kill any of you so-called friends standing off to the side not saying or doing anything to, oh, I don’t know – say or do something before it does in fact rip my balls off? Some friends you all turned out to be.
Be sure to keep an eye out for An American Werewolf in London star David Naughton in a brief cameo. Blink and you’ll miss it. Even Clint Howard gets more screen time in his cameo as the obligatory stranger who warns the partying teens to stay out of the woods. Why is it the kids never listen to creepy Clint Howard?
From there it’s almost like the movie just starts over again. Now it’s all about Derek being convinced his stepdad is a werewolf and trying to prove it. He’s even more sure after Uncle Charlie shows up to suddenly choose this moment in time to finally tell Derek the truth about the big hairy creature that killed his biological father seven years earlier (shown in the film’s opening prologue) that he’d always been told was a hunting accident. Derek and Sam then make like a pair of Charlie Brewster’s trying to prove the existence of the creature of legend that lurks too close to home.
Though the similarities are fleeting, for some reason I kept having flashbacks to a mostly forgotten 1984 film called First Born, a melodrama about a teenage son ultimately forced into a battle of wills with his short-fused stepdad after he comes to find out the guy is a dangerous drug dealer. Of course, Peter Weller wasn’t playing a comically violent drug dealer in that film so the comparison is mild.
More than anything else, I couldn’t help but think back to the slasher flick Wrestlemaniac (review) that I just watched a few days before Big Bad Wolf. That was a movie that took a fairly formulaic premise and freshened it up with a healthy dose of enthusiasm and creativity. It had a healthy balance of horror and humor – humor that was actually humorous. It also managed to pull off a killer who was campy yet menacing, silly without being stupid. Big Bad Wolf, though entertaining at times, doesn’t balance the humor and horror as successfully and isn’t anywhere near as imaginative.
Though this review has probably made the movie sound far worse than is (I’d still say it’s better than a good deal of the horror dreck lining DVD shelves these days), the movie still left me cold and the reasons why were glaringly obvious. Big Bad Wolf does have some great kills, a good deal of T&A, and moves along at a reasonably brisk pace; none of which was still enough to keep me from feeling apathetic towards it. Big Bad Wolf huffs and puffs but it failed to blow my house down.
2 1/2 out of 5
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