From The SFX Vaults: Bad Wolf

A classic SFX feature from January 2011

Annik Borel as Daniela Neseri

Werewolf Woman (1976)

Daniella is a woman plagued by strange dreams about dancing around naked in the night before turning into a (sort of) werewolf. Then when her sister turns up with her husband, Daniella becomes attracted to him and starts turning into a werewolf woman in real life. She’s soon ripping fellas’ throats out left, right and centre, usually after copulating with them.

This desperately confused film is a bizarre sleaze-fest with tons of nudity and gore. The make-up job on the werewolf woman is hysterical, just a load of stuck-on fur and black prosthetic nipples. As some chap on the internet excitedly exclaimed, “Don’t forget about the hairy tits!” (Another pants, “She has the longest nipples I’ve ever seen!”)

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Ryan Robins as Henry Fosse

Sanctuary (2007-present)

The werewolves in TV’s Sanctuary seem to share more DNA with Morph or a Pink Panther bendy toy than with wolves. They appear to have been moulded from Plasticine, and when they move they bound along like squirrels on a bouncy castle. It also looks like the FX guys never quite got around to putting final layer of fur texturing on them, leaving the cleaner’s four-year-old son to scribble some hair on with a crayon. Okay, so realistic fur is always a costly problem for CG FX guys, but Doctor Who managed to create a passable coat for a digital werewolf that appeared in one episode . Henry is a werewolf who’s a regular character in Sanctuary . You’d think they fork out a bit to cover him up. Notably, he spends a good 99% of the series in human guise. Wise choice. Keep it that way.

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June Lockhart as Phyllis Allenby

She-Wolf Of London (1946)

The latter half of the 1940s were lean years for horror movies, probably because the world wasn’t really in the mood for on-screen horror after enduring several years of real horror in the first half of the decade. So how helpful of Universal to do a film with basically no monster! Yes, despite the title there isn’t really a proper werewolf here. You see, Phyllis Allenby just thinks she’s a werewolf because of a family curse (sorry to spoil things, but you’re not missing much). With stiff performances and virtually no flavour of olde London town, this is a rotten yarn. Impressive, though, how incidents that happen in the middle of the night are reported in the following morning’s papers – it’s like they’d invented the internet a hundred years early.

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Seth Green as Oz

Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)

SFX has often been criticised for being incapable of ever saying anything bad about a Joss Whedon show. Well, two words: werewolf Oz. Oz as a character? Yeah, great. Oz as a lycan? A hideous, hideous embarrassment. The head wasn’t too bad (though a bit stiff and puzzled-looking) but it was plonked on a shapeless, ungainly, scraggy body with a bit of string for a tail. Worse, whoever was wearing the costume (it clearly wasn’t Seth Green) moved and ran in it like some drunk bloke wearing a yeti costume at a stag party. They certainly weren’t method acting.

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David Rintoul as Etoile

Legend Of The Werewolf (1975)

This was a low budget attempt by economical film company Tyburn to redo – with the same writer – Hammer’s Curse Of The Werewolf from 1961, the film that propelled Oliver Reed to fame. Here David Rintoul (no, we don’t know who he was either) is Etoile, a baby left for dead and raised among wild animals in a forest. A few years later he is picked up by a travelling carnival and performs as “wolfboy” (ooh, they wouldn’t allow that now). A few more years later he’s a zookeeper in Paris, but – uh-oh – murders are happening in the city. And they look like the work of an animal! What’s equally pleasing and annoying is the utter unoriginality of the plot and of the werewolf’s behaviour. He also transforms in a rather prosaic fashion thanks to stop-motion filming. But the end result isn’t bad – quite a ferocious, twitchy beastie with an excess of facial hair. A bit like that Big Issue seller we always see in central Bath, then.

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Jessica Martin as Mags

Doctor Who “The Greatest Show In The Galaxy” (1988)

Back comb your hair, stick in some novelty fangs you got out of Christmas cracker, leave your contact lenses in overnight and go “Rrrraaaaarrrhhhh!” like you’ve got a bit of congestion and you too can be an ’80s Who -style werewolf. It doesn’t take much to get Mags to transform; she’s forced into a metamorphosis when someone shines a crescent-shaped light onto the floor in front of her, presumably because a full moon-shaped beam of light would have just looked like a spotlight.

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Paul Naschy as Waldemar Daninsky

The Werewolf And The Yeti (1975)

Spanish horror star Paul Naschy, who died in 2009 aged 75, made a career out of playing tortured werewolves in a series of ropey European horror movies. They include The Night Of The Werewolf (1981), The Werewolf Versus The Vampire Women (1971), Dracula Versus Frankenstein (1970) and this effort from 1975, which found itself on the infamous video nasties list in the mid ’80s. What’s funny about this one is that the werewolf and the yeti, who only briefly clash at the film’s climax, look almost identical! Shouldn’t the yeti be white?

Earlier in the film, Naschy, an explorer in the Tibetan mountains, stumbles upon a cave and on entering it finds two alluring vampiric women, whom he has sex with – that’s both of them, at the same time, the dirty dog. This seems to turn him into a werewolf, although maybe that’s understandable. He then goes on the rampage, including battling the aforementioned abominable snowman. Unintentional laughs abound, but it’s mostly pretty dull stuff.

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Dee Wallace Stone as Karen White

The Howling (1981)

Most of the werewolves in Joe Dante’s The Howling are pretty damned respectable for their time, but things go a bit wonky at the film’s climax. To prove to the world that werewolves exist, journalist Karen White transforms live on TV into… Fizzgig from The Dark Crystal . She’s just too cute and fluffy and well groomed, like a pampered were-Yorkshire Terrier, complete with unconvincing twitching nose. It was the start of the rot for The Howling franchise…

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Sybil Danning as Stirba

Howling II (1985)

The Howling was one of the better werewolf films of its era. The sequel is one of the worst werewolf films of any era. Its surprising cast includes Christopher Lee and Jimmy Nail, amusingly trying to do an American accent. And then there’s Sybil Danning – busty, blonde, Austrian, statuesque Sybil Danning – star of such exploitation delights as Chained Heat , Young Lady Chatterley II and Reform School Girls . Here she is a “werewolf bitch” who makes love as well as war: the sequence where she has a threesome with two other hairy lycanthropes is pretty jaw-dropping. Her collection of S&M outfits will also have the lower part of your face slightly descending earthwards. But it all pales into insignificance compared to the final credits when Sybil rips her top off to reveal her huge, juddering breasts – ten times! Yes, the director chooses to replay this identical scene ten times in a row, which presumably made it difficult for some patrons to exit the theatre at this point (rather like the end credits of Tarzan The Ape Man where Bo Derek frolics in the altogether). But still don’t watch this: it’s heinous, hideous, tatty and ghastly.

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Michael Jackson as The Littlest Hobo

Thriller (1983)

Not even American Werewolf director John Landis could make a decent lycan out of plastic popster. At the start of the groundbreaking Thriller video, Jackson does a very different kind of moonwalk. “I’m not like other boys,” he tells a girl rather needlessly. What he actually means is that he’s a werewolf, and he proves by transforming in front of her. Spookily, in mid-transformation he has a death mask look not a little unlike his multiple-further-face-lifts self of later life, only blacker. His full werewolf appearance doesn’t look so bad in still pictures, though the Bride Of Frankenstein white streaks in his hair and huge, pointy elfin ears are a tad camp. And he does look more feline than lupine from some angles. The real problem, though, is the poncy way he moves – bouncing and prancing around like Lionel Blair in a gorilla mask. Jacko’s attempts at howling in the Making Of video are hilarious too.

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Eric Braeden as Bernhardt Stieglitz

Kolchak: The Night Stalker “The Werewolf” (1974)

The main problem with the shaggy star in this episode of the show that influenced Chris Carter to create The X-Files is not so much that he looks like Fozzie Bear after too long on the sun bed, but the way he acts. He’s just a thug, wandering around a cruise ship beating people up. Where’s the throat-ripping? Where’s the howling? Where’s the cocked leg over the railings? Bah, it’s just a hairy bloke with an attitude.

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David Thewlis as Professor Lupin

Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban (2004)

This surprisingly poor effort from the Potter series was once described by SFX forumite Veela Magnet as a “hairy stick insect”, and few would argue. He’s so lanky and devoid of muscle he looks like the kind of werewolf that got picked last for the football team in PE at school. More of a were-whippet than wolf.

The Werewolves

Van Helsing (2004)

Actually, the CG werewolves in Stephen Sommers’ Van Helsing were pretty good. But they’re in Van Helsing . So they’re bad by association.