October Movie Roll Call (Double-Feature): Werewolf

It's not a typo, I clearly mean to say Werewolf, because both these films use the singular version in their names. 

Whether you call them by their common name werewolf or their fancy name lycanthrope - what you get is the mythological/folkloric tale where a human can shapeshift into a wolf-like creature or wolf (depending on the particular lore). Some stories, you can be born a werewolf; in others the "curse" is passed through a bite or scratch. In some cases the change can only happen on the full moon, others the full moon plus the day before and after, or they always have the ability to shift. Sometimes the human side has no memory of the wolf's actions and in other cases they are in full control. It just depends on the lore (or what new twist entertainment chooses to refresh the myth of the werewolf.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes: Werewolf (1998)


For my werewolf pairing, I begin with one of the best Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes: Werewolf (originally released in 1995, but it aired on MST3K on April 18, 1998). Archaeologists working in Arizona find a werewolf skeleton (the desert must be rife with them) and if the skeleton scratches you, then you turn into a werewolf. These sound like it would easily be avoided, but the evil man in charge of the dig, Yuri (Jorge Rivero) sets out to turn more than one person. The mythology in this film is suppose to be based on Native American mythology where the werewolf is called yetiglanchi. All the while, a "writer" named Paul moves to Flagstaff. He is brought into the mix after meeting Natalie (the woman who could not pronounce werewolf correctly to save her life). Yuri's jealousy makes Paul his next accidental target. Bad hair, bad acting, bad lighting, a random countryfied groundskeeper, more than one shot on a ceiling fan, and a predictable ending make this the perfect film for MST3K. Not to mention the amazing Were-Crow story-line on the Satellite of Love.

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

For the second movie, there is my favorite werewolf film: An American Werewolf in London (1981), directed by John Landis, with a great cast, plus makeup by Rick BakerThe film starts with two young American men, David Kessler (David Naughton) and Jack Goodman (played by Griffin Dunne), on a backpacking trip in Europe. They mistakenly start their adventure in the moors of Northern England. They are constantly told to stay on the road to avoid the moors (which were actually filled in Wale), even by the strange characters at the local pub (called The Slaughtered Lamb -  one of my favorite fictional pub names). Following an awkwardly tense visit to the village pub, what do they do? They pay no attention where they are going and end up on the moors and on the night of the full moon no less. They, of course, are attacked by a werewolf. Jack is instantly killed, but David is only scratched (we as an audience knows what this means!). He is taken to a hospital in London said to have been attacked by a madman. Three weeks later he wakes up and in the week leading up to the full moon he falls for his nurse (Jenny Agutter), is haunted by disturbing Nazi-eque demon dreams, and is visited more than once by his deceased best friend Jack who warns he is a werewolf and must take his own life or he will harm others. David ignores these encounters and we get to see Baker's movie makeup skills transform a man to a werewolf. 

Hope you will give this double-feature a chance. It's the perfect blend of comedy and horror and a great addition to your Halloween movie roster. Also - if people say to stay out of the moors or if archaeologist look a little too smug - just stay away. Its the best advice I an give. That, and it's okay if you turn into a Were-Crow.