Tuesday, October 22, 2013

31 Werewolves | Wolf

With a few exceptions, werewolves of the '60s through the '80s were largely treated as fantasy creatures. There were good werewolves and bad ones, but they all pretty much just accepted their condition and audiences were expected to accept it, too. Rare was the story of a human who struggled with the curse. Rarer still was the one that did it exceptionally well.

I guess that's why I love Mike Nichols' Wolf from 1994, sort of an unofficial companion to Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula and Kenneth Branagh's Frankenstein from around the same time. Jack Nicholson plays a book editor who could teach Clark Kent something about being mild-mannered, until he's bitten by a wolf he accidentally hit with his car. Not since Lon Chaney Jr had we gotten a more sympathetic portrayal of someone who was frightened by this thing they were becoming. As the wolf side of his personality asserts itself, Nicholson's character starts seeing the benefit of living a more passionate life, but is also frightened by what could happen if he casts off all restraint. It's a complicated balance and Nicholson, of course, nails it.

Michelle Pfeiffer, James Spader, and Christopher Plummer also play important roles and this is probably my favorite werewolf movie second only to the original Wolf-Man.

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