Late Phases (2014)

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When it comes to werewolf films, the world has been sorely lacking. Aside from the film Wer (which I haven’t seen, so I can’t comment on) the last great werewolf film was 2002’s Dog Soldiers. Since then we’ve had to suffer through or, if you’re a more intelligent person than myself, avoid the likes of Skinwalkers, Underworld, the Twilight films (Team Jacob ftw), or the Wolfman remake. Late Phases is an underdog in the battle against romanticized werewolves with rock-hard abs, helping to bring the subgenre back to a simpler time when the beasts were both fun and terrifying.

The story follows Ambrose, (played by an unblinking Nick Damici, Stakeland, We Are What We Are remake) a Vietnam War vet that has lost his vision in the years following the war. Ambrose, who is equal parts stubborn and badass, moves into a gated community for the elderly and is attacked by a werewolf the first night.

The werewolf of the film is clearly a man in a suit and looks silly the first time it is on camera. If the viewer can get passed this first exposure than they are in for a treat. Fear and tension are ratcheted up to eleven as Ambrose’s confusion and unknowing dawn on the viewer; placing yourself in his position becomes a terrifying mental exercise.

Late Phases is able to deliver two things not often seen in horror films. The majority of the characters are elderly, as opposed to the traditional attractive teens that dominate the genre; the younger characters are used in comedic means to highlight societies attitudes and views toward the elderly in bright, disgusting light. Secondly, Ambrose is blind. There have been horror films (even werewolf films, Silver Bullet) that fills the main roles with disabled characters but this is the first one I have seen in which the main character is blind, apart from The Langoliers (which I am still trying, desperately, failingly, to forgot).

While Late Phases isn’t for everyone – there will be people who can not get behind the special effects or Ambrose’s unrelenting stubbornness – it is, however, one of the best werewolf films to come out in a long time and hopefully a sign of a new trend to take back our monsters and keep them as just that, monstrous.

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Waxworks (1988)


What do Vampires, Zombies, Werewolves, and that guy from Gremlins have in common, besides the lack of any humanity? They all fit into Waxworks of course.

Waxworks is the story of an evil Wax Museum, and more importantly, the wax figures inside. If you step into the exhibit, you step through a gateway to that exhibits world. If you die in that world, you die in real life, and your one less person the Waxworks evil owner needs dead in order to unleash his oh-so-evil plan. TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD, and it’s up to Zach Galligan to stop him.

Waxworks is a fun little movie, it’s safe to say it’s played for laughs, but a lot of the laughs fall short. That doesn’t stop the movie from being any less awesome. It’s really just a vehicle to throw all the horror monsters you want into a movie. Like vampires? Have some one fall into a vampire exhibit. Werewolves just as cool? Good thing there’s a werewolf exhibit! The freedom this allows does wonders for making the film an enjoyable ride. It’s almost like a gory Monster Squad, if all the kids grew up into rich pompous assholes.

The characters in the film are very hard to like. Except for Jenkins the butler of course, his scenes are near and dear to my heart. The main character, Zach playing Mark, starts the movie as a brooding rich kid, but thankfully by the end, his character develops enough to be much more enjoyable. Mark’s circle of friends are for the most part, poorly acted, and just plain snotty, but thankfully they don’t last long.

While there aren’t too many on screen deaths, at least until’ a Lord Of The Rings level of epic showdown in the end, what we are treated with is so over the top balls to the wall awesome, that you can’t help but love it. We’re talking blood spraying everywhere, people getting ripped in half, impaled through wine bottles, it’s nuts, and while it doesn’t look real, it comes across as gory fun none the less.

Waxworks is a movie I which I had seen when I was younger, not because it doesn’t hold up now, but because it would have been a horror wet dream come true when I was younger. Still, I think it’s one worth checking out, not to mention the sequel has Bruce Campbell in it!

Score – 80%
Gore – 8/10

An American Werewolf In London (1981)

                                         

The year is 1981, horror is in full bloom, Tom Savini is killing teenagers left and right, while Rick Baker is  working with the wolfs, leaving with us the single best transformation scene filmed today. Written and directed by John Landis ( who’s in every horror documentary I’ve ever seen, despite this being his only horror film) An American Werewolf In London ( AWIL) is a shinning example of why 1981 was  such a good year for horror. So with that out of the way, let’s get down to it.

While on a walking trip through out Europe, David and Jack get attacked by a beast, leaving Jack dead, and David in the hospital, the report saying they were attacked by an escaped lunatic. David starts having some seriously fucked up nightmares which lead to a few fun death scenes. Jack comes back throughout the film as a zombie looking ghost, to warn about the werewolf’s curse. The werewolf’s blood line must be cut out, and theres only one left. David.

To say the werewolf genre is sad would be an understatement, almost all werewolf tales are in truth tragedy. Unless it goes through the same style that say vampire movies do, the main character is turned, so you kill his creator. Thankfully in the case of AWIL, the creator is killed, but the sickness still passes on.

About an hour into the film, we get our first scene of what I`d call real terror, sure some scary shit happens, but nothing is as memorable as the Werewolf transformation.  It looks so painfully real, Rick Baker invokes the spirit of body horror such icons and David Cronenburg became famous for. It hits fast and hard, while not gory or even bloody, it is truely sickening to watch. In this case, I think waiting so long makes it that much better, your kept waiting for it, and when it delivers it really delivers .

There`s another transformation at work here as well, that`s the Zombie /Ghost transformation. Every time we see Jack, he’s been decaying over the course of the movie, and we get to see the rotting remains step by step over the course of the movie.

Well done werewolf film, amazing special effects, and some half decent laughs. Check it out

Score – 80%

Gore – 7/10