Monday, October 30, 2017

Wolf (1994)

Who's In It: Jack Nicholson (The Raven, The Witches of EastwickBatman), Michelle Pfeiffer (The Witches of Eastwick, Batman Returns, Dark Shadows), James Spader (Pretty in Pink, Stargate, Shorts), Kate Nelligan (the Frank Langella Dracula), Richard Jenkins (The Witches of Eastwick, Let Me In, The Cabin in the Woods, Bone Tomahawk), Christopher Plummer (Vampire in Venice, Dracula 2000), David Hyde Pierce (Addams Family Values, Hellboy, The Amazing Screw-On Head), and Ron Rifkin (Alias).

What It's About: An aging, complacent man rediscovers life and purpose when he's bitten by a werewolf.

How It Is: I almost didn't write "werewolf" in the description there, because Wolf makes a point of not using that word. But it's absolutely a werewolf movie and in my (apparently minority) opinion, a really good one.

Wolf came out two years after Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula and five months before Kenneth Branagh's Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, so in my mind it completed the trinity of early '90s monster movie remakes. Imagine a House of Dracula with Gary Oldman, Robert De Niro, and Jack Nicholson. I certainly did. But because Universal's Wolf Man wasn't based on a particular novel, there was no source material for Wolf to mess up. And that made it my favorite of the three.

My love of The Wolf Man is based in the tragic relatability of its main character, so that's what I'm always looking for in werewolf movies. Wolf has that, tied into a revenge fantasy about equally relatable problems like losing your job or finding out that people you're close to are unfaithful.

Some of the set up for the revenge fantasy is obvious to the point of being trite, but the cast is so good that I never care. Even hackneyed elements like the ruthless businessman who's acquiring Nicholson's company is made fascinating because Plummer plays him with humor and a wicked twinkle in his eye. And if you're going to have a traitorous best friend, who better to play him than James Spader? And I haven't even mentioned Pfeiffer yet, who's simultaneously butt-kicking and heart-breaking as Plummer's damaged, but resilient daughter.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Old Man Logans.


Caffeinated Joe said...

For whatever reason, I have never seen this. I want to though. I never thought of the monster-remake trilogy you mention, but it does kind of work!

Erik Johnson Illustrator said...

Along those same lines "Anaconda" follows the same plot breakdown as "Creature from the Black Lagoon". Maybe we can give it some honorary status since the official remake appears to be in permanent limbo.

That photo of Jack. Wow. This part really wasn't that much of stretch!

Guess I'll have to swing by tomorrow to see if American Werewolf in London makes the cut for your werewolf mini-thon.

Erik Johnson Illustrator said...

Your mention of Bram Stroker's Dracula and Mary Shelly's Frankenstein make me wonder why during that same time Tim Burton's adaptation wasn't called "Washington Irving's Sleepy Hollow".

Michael May said...

Good point. It was as faithful to its source material as Dracula and Frankenstein were.

Paxton said...

Sorry, Michael, I haven't been commenting as much. It's been nuts the last month.

ANYWAY, Wolf is pretty good. Nicholson is perfect. Spader is excellent. I really like it when I can't say as much for either Coppola's Dracula or Branagh's Frankenstein. I need to revisit.

I also watched Creature from the Black Lagoon last week for the very first time. Don't know why I hadn't ever watched it before. It's REALLY good. And Julie Adams is...wait for it...SUPER attractive. ;-)

Michael May said...

I love Creature so much and at least 50% of that is because of Julie Adams.


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