The year of the wolf

Look up at the big screen or at your TV this year and you’re going to spot a full moon.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that vampires have been dominating the film industry, recently becoming Hollywood’s go-to villain. While most vampires of late are showing more love than bite (Edward Cullen, anyone?), they nonetheless are relishing their return to cinematic glory. Vampires, however, may want to sharpen their fangs as the film and television industries are getting a little hairy in 2010.

The next 10 months belong to the werewolf, who is clawing its way to a major comeback with the highly anticipated film, “The Wolfman,” opening on theaters on Feb. 12.

“Werewolves and vampires are among Hollywood’s stock monsters over the past century,” communications professor Christopher Sharrett said. “It’s not surprising that the industry would return to them.”

The werewolf movement began gaining steam toward the end of last year with the hugely successful “The Twilight Saga: New Moon,” which became the third biggest three-day debut in history behind “The Dark Knight” and “Spiderman 3.” Critics were unimpressed with the sequel to the supernatural romance “Twilight” but fans couldn’t get enough of the love triangle between Bella, her vampire beau Edward and new love interest, the werewolf Jacob.

Since the November release of “New Moon,” a pack of werewolf-related film and television projects were announced. News broke of upcoming remakes of the classic 80s werewolf films “An American Werewolf in London” and “The Howling,” which is eyeing its release this Halloween. MTV is currently developing a series based on the 1985 Michael J. Fox film “Teen Wolf” and Alan Ball, creator of HBO’s vampire drama “True Blood,” announced in December a new character will appear in the hit show’s third season, premiering this summer — a werewolf named Alcide who will potentially shake things up between main lovebirds Sookie Stackhouse and Bill Compton.
According to Werewolf-movies.com, there are 10 films featuring werewolves in various production stages set for release over the next two years.

“One thing about werewolves that makes them interesting is that they are usually portrayed as tragic figures,” junior Charles Dente said. “Unlike most movie monsters, people with the curse of the werewolf have no control over their violent actions. This puts all the people that they are close to in grave danger.”

The original version of “The Wolf Man,” released in 1941 and starring the iconic Lon Cheney as the legendary beast, was not the first werewolf film ever made but it set the bar for future ones. Since then, werewolves have enjoyed a lofty spot as one of cinema’s favorite monsters along with vampires and zombies.

“At their best, werewolves are primal, archetypal myths,” Sharrett said. “They speak to the hidden side of our personalities, the anger that all of us, at some level, contain.”

However, like all film monsters, the werewolf suffers from the retread culture of Hollywood, where making money usually takes precedence over making quality films. The film industry thrives on this notion: if the
formula works, keep doing it over and over.

“The problem is that the franchises they spawn can easily remove their fascination,” Sharrett said.

Academy Award winner Benicio Del Toro steps into Lon Cheney’s big shoes in the latest remake of “The Wolfman.” Del Toro plays Lawrence Talbot, an American who experiences an unsettling transformation after returning to his ancestral home in Victorian-era England and being attacked by a rampaging werewolf. His brother’s gone missing and he returns home only to confront his estranged father, Sir John Talbot (Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins). Things become worse when Lawrence begins to fall for his brother’s fiancee, Gwen (Emily Blunt).

The film went into production in 2008 and originally had a 2009 release date. It was ultimately pushed back another year, further heightening the speculation and the anticipation for the long-awaited remake.

“The Wolfman” not only features an impressive cast including Hugo Weaving (who never disappoints as the bad guy in any movie), but also acclaimed special effects makeup artist Rick Baker, who won an Academy Award for his work on the most unnerving werewolf transformation scene of all time in 1982’s “An American Werewolf in London.”

While Hollywood is clearly pushing for a werewolf craze in 2010, its success will inevitably depend on whether or not audiences end up over the moon for the mythical lycanthrope.

Dana Cassidy can be reached at dana.cassidy@student.shu.edu.

Author: Staff Writer

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