As part of our 31 Weeks to Halloween countdown, this past weekend we finally hit another milestone in our thirty movie playlist: The Wolf Man from 1941! The film is - without a doubt - one of the best films we've gotten to so far in the countdown, filled with a great story, some great effects and even better characters. Naturally, when a movie is that good, you're going to want to see the remake of the film that came out almost seventy years later, right?! Luckily for us, The Wolfman remake was readily available to watch, so Soulless Cult jumped at the opportunity to check out (for the first time) the remake of the classic Universal Monster movie and man, this is a remake done right, and for so many reasons. It takes the plot from the original film and makes some very minimal changes to it, but definitely ups the ante when it comes to the amount of sheer terror, gore, and madness. It's absolutely a modern day remake, filled with elements common to modern day horror vs the classic horror days... and it's fantastic. The movie was directed by Joe Johnston (who is surely responsible for working on some of your favorite films) and stars some pretty big names, including Benicio del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt and Hugo Weaving. Lawrence Talbot (who went by the shorthand name Larry in the original) is played by del Toro who absolutely slays his role as both Lawrence and the Wolfman - an equally amazing performance as Lon Chaney Jr. did in the classic, if you ask me.
Talbot returns home after receiving a letter from his soon-to-be sister-in-law Gwen (played by Emily Blunt) informing him that his brother Ben has disappeared. Upon returning home, Talbot's father Sir John (played by the great Anthony Hopkins aka Hannibal) shares the grim details that Ben's body has been found, and it has been mutilated. The story then follows Lawrence trying to discover just what happened to his brother, and attempting to rule out the werewolf lore he overhears in a pub. But while at the gypsy camp, Lawrence is attacked and bitten by the beast and what follows is his worst nightmare come true: he transitions into a werewolf and goes out into the woods, killing hunters. As Talbot tries to figure out just what is happening to him and how to stop it, some dark family secrets come out that change Talbot's whole life... or what's left of it. Will Talbot be able to control his newly acquired natural instinct to kill, or will he succumb to his bloodthirsty need?! Find out in... THE WOLFMAN!
Benicio del Toro has this way of talking through his facial expressions that some actors probably dream of and cannot achieve - and it's honestly a big part of what makes his character Lawrence enjoyable to watch on screen. His sadness, his internal struggle, his desire for Gwen... it's all shown through his face without even needing to say anything. I think he was perfectly casted for the role, even if it was just for that fact. But when Lawrence transforms into the dreaded Wolfman, Talbot continues to deliver an incredible performance that would strike fear into the heart of even the strongest of men. He looks and acts fucking terrifying, and it's a perfect modern day rendition of the classic Wolf Man character. Another reason I say this film has some great modern horror elements is the insane amount of gore in the film; I honestly was blown away and totally surprised at just how much blood and violence was in the film!! Honestly, if I were to direct a Wolfman movie, I, too, would have included as much blood and gore as this film possesses, because a terrifying beast like The Wolfman should be violent, bloody and savage. Obviously, movies were different in the 1940s when the classic film came out and blood wasn't the norm, but in modern horror, fans crave blood, guts, gore and in werewolf films: transitions! Technology back in the '40s was limited, so transformation scenes could only go so far, but with the help of special effects, editing and CGI in modern movies, man-to-werewolf transition scenes have so much potential, and The Wolfman absolutely takes full advantage of that; the transition scenes are absolutely fucking mental, and as you see his limbs tear into wolf parts, all you can truly do is sit there with your draw dropped. My favorite transition scene of any horror still belongs to An American Werewolf in London, but honestly, some of these scenes come in very close. Absolutely brutal. Little did I know until just now, special makeup effects artist Rick Baker worked on both films - probably a reason I love the transitions in this movie so much.
A review of this film wouldn't be complete without addressing Sir John Talbot - father of Lawrence and the fantastic role portrayed by the legendary Anthony Hopkins. Talk about another excellent choice casting him in the role; without giving too much away, there's some great plot twists that involve Sir John, and mannn does having Hopkins play that role make it feel just that much more authentic. He's a necessary part to this movie to make it the awesome film it is, and the way they wrote his character in the story is different and unexpected, but totally sick. And it's because of his character that we get some seriously wicked scenes - that's all I'll say about that. All in all, The Wolfman exceeded every expectation I had and created such an intense, awe-inspiring environment, story, and characters while paying a wholesome tribute to the characters of the classic Wolf Man film. I actually loved this so much I'll be picking up a physical copy for my horror collection - it was that good. Check it out!!!