Rest in... beast.
Year of Release: 1995
Also Known As: Arizona Werewolf
Running Time: 99 minutes (1:39)
Director: Tony Zarindast
Federico Cavalli ... Paul Niles
Adriana Stastny ... Natalie Burke
Jorge Rivero ... Yuri
Richard Lynch ... Noel
R.C. Bates ... Sam the Keeper
Joe Estevez ... Joel
Jules Desjarlais ... Tommy
Heidi Bjorn ... Carrie
Tony Zarindast ... Security Guard
Under the cover of night as the full moon rises, so rises a vicious creature with a blood curdling howl.
In a remote desert town, the victims of an ancient power are overcome by a terrifying transformation. Normal men become bloodthirsty animals, howling in the night and prowling for their prey. Man and animal battle while innocent bystanders are caught in the horror of the Werewolf.
Werewolf, remindin' us that for the modern lycanthrope on the go, clothing that's both stylish *and* durable is a must. After all, when a single glimpse of the full moon could separate you from your pants, a reliable stitch might be your modesty's last line of defense. Besides, you wouldn't want folks to think you're nothin' but a wolf in cheap's clothing.
An speakin' of people who oughta be neutered, you ever feel like you're the linchpin holdin' your whole damn county together? I'm tellin' ya - heavy is the head, an inbred is the kingdom. These people owe me BIG TIME after what purt'near went down last Thursday in the high school gym, but does anyone thank me? What do you think, does the phrase "excuse me sir, but you're going to have to pay for that jerky" sound like gratitude to you? Good, it ain't just me then. Anyway, you've prolly seen these travelin' hypnotists who show up in town an get themselves booked into the conference room of the Comfort Inn an promise to "penetrate the most primitive parts of the human psyche and implant behavior modifying encryption into the brain to break your destructive habits," which's supposed to make the idea of stuffin' down a bowl of drive-in nachos cause your guts to start bouncin' around like ping pong balls in the state lottery drawing until you hafta go munch on lawn clippins to get ahold of yourself. Now, I'm not sayin' these guys're charlatans *just yet*, cause this methodology worked pretty well in Clockwork Orange; nah, my problem comes when they start wheelin' out the merchandise tables while everyone's predisposed to think they're harbor seals performin' at Sea World. That's what the guy at the high school did anyway, an of course, beins that we voted for the Reality TV star at a 5:1 ratio here, when this duded up shyster comes swaggerin' in dressed like the grand marshal of Pioneer Days everybody instantly takes a likin' to 'im an wants to get pictures taken with him an their kids for the family Christmas card. Needless to say, *somebody* had to keep an eye on this creep an... okay, so maybe I was only there cause I thought it'd be funny to put obscene numbers on the electronic scoreboard an just happened to be in the right place at the right time, but I've seen enough Bela Lugosi movies to know that the hypnotist *always* has shady ulterior motives, an I wasn't about to let 300 people get turned into outer space vegetable zombies after discoverin' just exactly what this monster was up to.
Guy had tables chock full of Amway registration forms, Scentsy starter kits, Somalian timeshare brochures, bottles of Super Beta Prostate Formula, an about 50 copies of Dianetics - ya know, your basic aisle 3 at the Roswell swap meet. But what really alarmed me was this one display he'd had covered by a cloth until he was certain everyone was out like Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the State of the Union address, an it wasn't until he finally yanked the cloth offa *that* table that the totality of this man's evilness was revealed in all its heresy - FIDGET SPINNERS as far as the eye could see. I'd heard these people were monsters, an until that moment I thought the stories were just made up to scare baby boomers, but there they were, stacked high and proud, right in front of God an everyone, incontrovertible an terrible as the day is long. Well, I'd seen enough - I was not about to let this wolf in Jim West's clothing turn us into a community of zombie liberal arts majors, so I did the only thing a man in my situation could do: I blasted my Dr. Feelgood cassette over the gym speakers an plastered my fanny up against the announce booth window. Ole Vince Neil broke the crowd right outta their zen-nirvana-rama-stasis comas, an within seven seconds everyone's eyes'd glued themselves to the spinner display... which's when things turned *really* ugly. Beer bottles flew like Patriot missiles, old ladies wept into their shawls, calls for the guy's head rang out from all over the gym, an four or five particularly P.O.'d concealed carriers ceased with their concealment an fired a coupla dozen shots through the guy's merchandise display before he finally bolted for his minivan. I heard the mob ripped the slidin' door clean off an busted out half the windows before he made it to the freeway, but apparently it didn't stop there, cause three or four guys jumped into their pickups an chased 'im all the way to the Arrowhead Travel Plaza before havin' to stop for gas. So let that be a lesson to all the con men out there: respect the boundaries of good taste, or you just might end up preachin' to the fire.
Ya know, for all the good any of that did for me, what's the point of even havin' a social conscience if it doesn't result in a free donut at the Jiffy Mart now an then? Whole damn incident was prolly forgotten two minutes after the fact, just like that scene in Werewolf where Joe Estavez pastes the skinwalker with his pump action 12 gauge an you never see 'im again. Totally identifyin' with Joe right now, cause neither one of us gets the credit we deserve. Anyway, this's week #3 of my tribute to the 10 best flicks in the history of Mystery Science Theater 3000, an this time around we're gonna talk Werewolf... or Wurrwilf, as the female lead pronounces it. I don't mean to be cynical or anything, but I'm not convinced she was selected for her actin' prowess - kinda seems like maybe it had somethin' to do with that scene in the pool hall where she's wearin' a tank top an it looks like a coupla meat thermometers've ruled out the presence of salmonella in 'er hooters. Still - best werewolf movie I've ever seen to be produced by an Iranian that stars a blonde bombshell who barely speaks English and features a long-lost relative of the Duck Dynasty brood delivering the line "I just found out Count Dracula was a faggot!" so if you think you can just write this one off an move on to the next review, you're makin' a big mistake. Just never-you-mind about that 1.7 IMDB rating, an enjoy a few bits of cinematic wisdom that'll prove that figure's fake news concocted by witch hunters. First, silver bird shot may be more expensive than a silver bullet, but it significantly improves your odds of bringin' down a were-pheasent. Second, fightin' a werewolf next to a mudpuddle's just askin' to get shaken off on. An third, nothin' says you can't pray for the police, but the phone's usually quicker.
Here's the real blockbuster revelation though - after eight years, that Monster Squad debate about whether or not Wolf Man can drive a car has finally been put to bed. Somebody go wake up Andre Gower an let 'im know he was right. Ain't that kinda pathetic though? This's what happens when we cut the scientific research budget in this country, eight goddamn years of inquirin' minds wantin' to know, an even then we gotta learn the truth on the streets. That said, the science isn't 100% settled, cause lycanthropy seems to affect a person's driving ability in the same way as alcohol. Basically, it *can* be done up to a certain point, but eventually the hair of the dog gets the best of you an you end up plowin' into the dinin' area at Sonic. Now, normally I don't advocate for more rules and regulations, but I can't see any other way around it: we, as a country, need a dog-breathalyzer test. You're prolly thinkin' to yourselves: "hey, if I wanna turn werewolf in the privacy of my own automobile that's MY business!"; well, yeah, but only if it ain't runnin', cause your rights end when they start affectin' other people, an folks shouldn't hafta live in fear of moony loonies while they're havin' a smoke in front of the bowlin' alley. PERIOD.
The movie begins on an archeology dig in Arizona where an Indian guy (Tommy) finds a bone stickin' outta the ground an immediately gets the crap kicked out of 'im by this low-rent Erik Estrada lookin' foreman (Yuri) who wants to steal credit for the discovery an have whatever-it-is named after 'im. Somethin' catchy, like a Ponchasaurus Rex maybe. Thankfully Joe Estavez is there, cause Joe has a lotta experience breakin' up fights at the Sheen family reunion every year after Charlie gets hammered on Tequila shooters an starts comparin' resumes with his kinfolk. But then Richard Lynch comes rollin' up in his Jeep an uncovers the rest of the skeleton until they've got this thing that looks like Queen Minos's been foolin' around with the neighbor's Doberman. Joe hadn't been this scared since he accidentally dropped the rings down the sink at Martin's wedding, an so Richard tells 'im to take the day off an sends Tommy down to the E.R. to get his distemper shots updated after rollin' around on the priceless discovery an gettin' torn up like Axl Rotten in a barbed wire match. Then Richard starts speculatin' about what it might be an tells Yuri an his lab assistant (Natalie, whose thoughts seem to operate with an FCC-mandated seven second broadcast delay) that it looks like a Yetiglanchi, which is basically a mean ole Indian sorcerer who'd strap animal pelts to 'imself to gain their powers. Basically, from what Richard's sayin' it sounds like the Yetiglanchi musta dressed up like a fox one time an got gangbanged by a buncha furries, an he's been pretty P.O.'d about it ever since. Meanwhile, Tommy's in intensive care at the hospital with the Hopi Hopi Shakes where he's gettin' steadily hairier an havin' a harder'n harder'n time resistin' the urge to lick his balls. Then Yuri sneaks in dressed like a doctor to draw some of Tommy's blood an a few minutes later Tommy sits up, yanks the plastic cone off his head, an starts chewin' up hospital staff like an Italian sofa. Unfortunately for Tommy, Joe majored in Supernatural Indian Studies at the community college back in '85, an so he's already stopped by Van Helsing's Occult Ammo Bunker an stocked up on silver buckshot by the time Tommy comes marching home again. KA-BOOM! - Old Yeller II: Necrotic Scooby-Doo. The next day, the only man in Arizona who rides Amtrak (Paul) hops off the train an takes a cab to his childhood home where he's met at the door by the grounds-/Oath Keeper (Sam) who carries a gun everywhere he goes an's essentially Ted Nugent if he'd never learned to play guitar an failed to dodge the draft. Sam promises to take Paul out Saguaro huntin' once he's settled in an tells 'im the real estate agent (Carrie) is upstairs waitin' for 'im, an next thing you know she's roped 'im into attendin' a party where she immediately dumps 'im for refusin' to attend 'er open blouse.
Conveniently, everyone else in the movie just happens to be at the party too, an it ain't long before Yuri starts tryin' to get Natalie to make a fish 'n CHiPS basket with 'im an Richard ends up havin' to drag his carcass outta there for ruinin' his chance at gettin' to meet Barry Goldwater. Yuri's P.O.'d, so he heads over to his lab an spikes the security guard's Corona with Cosby dust an shoots 'im fulla werewolf blood so he can follow 'im an see what happens, an basically the guy gets into his car an plows into a buncha oil drums that got left out in the middle of the street an practices rollin' over while still inside his car. Stupid Wolf never shoulda been drivin' when he was that Blitzered. In the meantime, Paul's schmoozed an schmooched his way into Natalie's good graces an naughty places an she agrees to show 'im the skeleton of the Bone Yard Dog. Only while he's lookin' at it Yuri comes in, rips the skull clean offa the corpse, an beats the tar outta Paul like a shoeless Iraqi peasant wailin' on a toppled statue of Saddam Hussein. Course you know what that means - now it's Paul who's floor scootin' around his loft, humpin' the headboard, an slobberin' all over the windows until Natalie comes over to enjoy a nice glass of toilet water an play doctor with Doggie Howser M.D. Anything she gets now's pretty much 'er own fault, cause she had ample opportunity to have 'er werewolf spayed or neutered. Then Paul goes out in the middle of the night to chase cars an ends up on toppa this girl in a big ole mud puddle lickin' 'er face an nibblin' 'er neck until she threatens to call animal control, but he still manages to make it home before Natalie notices anything weird's goin' on. Course Natalie barely notices when the actress playin' Becky changes between Roseanne episodes, so that's not terribly surprising, but after a few more nights of runnin' wild an pitchin' the real estate broad over the staircase railin', Paul finally starts to get tired of wakin' up to find that he's chewed up his own shoes an tells Natalie she's gotta find 'im a decent obedience school before he gets into serious trouble. Instead, they head to the bar to shoot pool an danged if there ain't a full moon for the 6th day in a row - causin' Paul to take refuge in the can where he starts slobberin' an shakin' like he got into the Halloween chocolate. Unfortunately, Yuri's in there tryin' to Yurinate an he sees the whole thing, so pretty quick he's on the phone conspirin' with Richard about how to kennel Paul an get 'im booked on the Letterman Show with Cesar Millan. I'm gonna cut this one off here, but you're really not missin' anything, beins how you can pretty well see the twist comin' from the International Space Station.
Alright, I admit it, it's one of the worst things ever to disgrace a video shelf, and despite being really funny at times, the direction lacks the unwavering confidence of a Claudio Fragasso or a Tommy Wiseau, which will likely prevent it from ever reaching cult status as one of the best bad movies of all time. To make something like The Room or Troll 2, ineptitude isn't enough - you've got to truly believe that what you're doing is going to revolutionize film, and Werewolf, while thoroughly botched, displays only brief flashes of insane directorial conviction. I think what really screwed the pooch, so to speak, is that a few of these people could actually act - particularly Richard Lynch, who's one of my favorite character actors. Jorge Rivero's also too talented and, frankly, even Joe Estavez' performance adds a level of professionalism that brings some balance to the movie. The script is still ridiculous, and the direction utterly impotent, but those guys are decent/good enough to make something out of nothing at times. So basically you've almost always got at least one competent actor in each scene, and this prevents the terrible ones from playing off each other - thus, you never really get that bungler's synergy whipped into a frenzied pace. The movie's at its best (read: worst) when R.C. Bates is on screen, cause not only is he awful, but he only ever interacts with *other* abysmal members of the cast, ie; Federico Cavalli and Adriana Stastny. Still, watching a flick like Werewolf is genuinely sad in the sense that movies like it will never again gain much traction (good or bad) among Horror fans. Similar titles of this caliber are still being made of course, but with the loss of nearly all the independent video distributors and the rental shops necessary to bring said movies into the public eye, nobody ever sees them. A lot of "filmmakers" will allow free streaming of their movies over the internet, but frankly, when you're willing to give them away for free, it's because you lack anything of value. Just getting the money necessary to print DVDs these days is almost a non-starter for most of their creators and, honestly, the requirements to make a movie now are so minimal that the level of garbage being produced could fill the Grand Canyon 3x over so, unfortunately, it would appear that the era of the direct-to-video, and even direct-to-cable (short of long-lived studios like Roger Corman's) movie is pretty much over, and we're now stuck with nothing but 100 million dollar blockbusters to fill the void. I think it also says something when the newest title selected for the reboot of Mystery Science Theater 3000 was made in 1989, because despite how pitiful many of the movies they picked are - having the basic structure of a film and a borderline coherent premise is still necessary.
Anyway, now that I've driven everyone to drink, let's take a closer look and find out just how high this bad moon can rise. The plot is riddled with incidences of faulty reasoning and is such a mess that it's difficult to decide where to start. You never know whether it's day or night or how much time has elapsed between the previous scene and the current one; and although it's something that happens in a lot of other werewolf movies, there's always a convenient full moon to help move the plot along. The airhead archaeologist lets some writer come inspect her earth-shattering discovery despite the fact that he could be from the National Enquirer for all she knows, the hospital staff doesn't ask for the ID of a doctor they've never seen before, the foreman of the archaeological crew punches out one of his workers for discovering an artifact, two guys from said crew procure silver bullets within hours of deciding they need them (one of whom is using a shotgun when they kill the werewolf), there's a buncha barrels just sitting in the middle of the street conveniently waiting for the Wolf Man to plow into after he passes the same Exxon station multiple times, one of the archaeologists rips the skull off his delicate discovery and uses it to beat the crap out of somebody, a girl runs straight into a huge mud puddle rather than run around it, and our buddy Sam gets down on his hands and knees to pray for the police to show up rather'n just calling them on the phone. Other'n that, the plot's just about seamless. Actually, one more thing: is Joe Estavez supposed to be an Indian in this movie? I never could figure that out - cause he knows about the legend of the Yetiglanchi, but the guy's actually Spanish so... yeah, I dunno, who the hell cares.
The acting, despite the presence of Richard Lynch and the likable (if hammy) Joe Estavez, is far and away the movie's biggest failing. Seriously, it gets bad enough that you eventually lose your feelings of contempt and start to genuinely feel bad for them, particularly Adriana Stastny, whose first language wasn't English and who obviously wasn't getting any direction at all. Bless her heart, the poor thing's trying so hard, and of course that just makes her performance ten times worse than it would have been had she just phoned it in (the "over my dead body" exchange is one of the most cringe-worthy things I've ever seen). She's right up there with Connie Young in Troll 2 and Angelika Jager in Robot Holocaust, and her performance in Werewolf is among the worst you'll ever see if you live to be 100. That worked out pretty well for Federico Cavalli, because in just about any other movie it would be *him* getting skewered for his awkward delivery and pronunciation, but Stastny's performance is so unbelievably terrible that you almost don't notice how bad he is too. What I really find odd about this flick, though, is that they cast Richard Lynch and didn't make him the heavy (or much of anything, really). Lynch was a Class A character actor who could do just about any evil deed under the sun and make you believe it, and he's... what? Apologetically complicit about wanting to capture the werewolf for profit? This guy's played every flavor of asshole in the history of cinema and that's ALL they're gonna do with him? Good grief is he ever wasted in this stinker.
Here's who matters and why (besides Richard Lynch and Joe Estavez, with whom you're probably already pretty familiar): Jorge Rivero (Mi fantasma y yo, Conquest), R.C. Bates (Dollman vs. Demonic Toys, Mom 1991), Randall Oliver (Rugaru, Heinous, Skookum: The Hunt for Bigfoot, RoboCop 1 & 2, Dark Angel), Lisa Frantz (My Pure Joy), Mark Williams (Big Sister 2000, The Roller Blade Seven 1 - 3), Bruce Paul Barbour (P.U.N.K.S., Endangered Species, The Beastmaster, Piranha 1978), Bill Brinsfield (Death House, The Millennium Bug, Terrorgram, Slaughterhouse), Tammy Curtis (Red Room), Sean P. Donahue (Star Hunter), Joe Rose (Trucks), Megyn Shott (Science Team, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Jersey Shore Massacre, Snakes on a Train, Alien from L.A., Deathrow Gameshow), Robert Stahoviak (Men in Black, Fade to Black), Christopher Warner (Captain America: Winter Soldier), Kyle Weir (Firehead). Jorge Rivero, who'd been a leading man in Mexico in decades past, and who was also stiffed for his work on Werewolf, would probably be best known for playing Captain Pierre Cordona alongside John Wayne in Rio Lobo, and with the exceptions of Lynch and Estavez, is the only person in the cast to have had much success in film before or after appearing in this flick.
The special effects are primitive, to put it as politely as possible. For the most part they consist of a guy dressed up in an unconvincing werewolf fright mask (and rarely, a suit), as well as the werewolf in various stages of transformation which involve some excess facial hair and a little makeup, and it all stinks on ice. They've also got what looks like an animatronic werewolf head, only it's really obvious that it's *just* a head, which forces the cameraman to use really tight shots that bring the lousy puppeteering into focus. The head itself, while a little odd looking, isn't terrible, but the guy manipulating it was obviously having some trouble. Beyond that, there's just a little blood here and there, most of which is so thick that it barely even runs. The shooting locations... cripes almighty, you wanna talk unforced errors? The movie is supposed to be set in Flagstaff, Arizona, and the dumbass in charge actually stuck a lingering shot of the La Brea Tar Pits in the movie. I get that on a small budget they couldn't be running around hiding all the California license plates on the vehicles, but you could probably make an effort not to go out of your way to show off things and locations that make it obvious to even the most casual observer that you're not shooting where you claim to be. I'm going to assume that both the hospital and lab settings were filmed inside the museum across the street from the tar pits, as it contains numerous reassembled animal skeletons from a bygone era (this also explains the excessive use of the blue filter, because they will have been filming exclusively at night when the museum wasn't operating, and during the day for most of the exterior scenes shot elsewhere), but despite having a few good settings (the main street of Bishop, California; the pool hall/bar; and the desert area shown in the opening sequence), they really butt fumbled this.
The soundtrack, you'll no doubt be surprised to learn, isn't exactly a saving grace either. Right outta the chute they start up with this stuff that sounds like a mash-up of the monks from Ave Satani and the Atlanta Braves' Tomahawk Chop song. Not real surprising given that anytime you've got Indians playing a significant role in a low budget movie you're gonna have a lotta that "hey-how-are-ya, HEY-how-are-ya" crap that passes muster for the non-indigenous population, but they use this thing over, and over, and OVER again to the point that you really start to hate it even if you didn't already find it culturally insensitive. The only other track I noticed consists of some very depressing violin music, which is not in and of itself bad, but due to the lousy production values of the movie it accidentally generates that "sad trombone" feeling you typically associate with something that didn't pan out the way it was supposed to. Just kinda makes you laugh more than anything else. I know I said never to take the IMDB rating for a Mystery Science Theater 3000 movie seriously, but this one's almost bad enough on a technical level to make me recant that statement, and honestly, I'm having second thoughts about naming it to my top ten list of the most enjoyable MST3K movies, because its failings are so depressing that I'm starting to feel like a jerk for making fun of it. That's how bad it is.