Summary: A group of guests at a country house learn that one of them is secretly a werewolf in this supernatural mystery which famously included a Werewolf Break where audience members could guess the answer. Among the many suspects are archaeologist Peter Cushing (HORROR EXPRESS), piano player Michael Gambon (HARRY POTTER’s second Dumbledore), and diplomat Charles Gray (the criminologist in THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW), all of whom must submit to a series of strange werewolf tests.
Tagline: One of these eight people will turn into a werewolf. Can you guess who it is when we stop the film for THE WEREWOLF BREAK? See it…solve it…but don’t tell!
Probably should have waited until 2024 to recap this in order to celebrate its 50th anniversary, but life is short, why wait. This popped up on Shudder as something I should watch and watch and recap it I shall. I know nothing about this except for the summary I pulled from Shudder.
It is my favourite time of year and one of my favourite full moons, the Hunter’s Moon! Fitting, then, that we have this film with a man obsessed with hunting a werewolf. Happy Halloween season, happy Snark at the Moon!, and may the Hunter’s Moon shine down on you for a successful hunt.
Note: bat likely won’t be able to comment on this until sometime after Sunday the 24th, so if you love her comments, you might want to wait to read until then.
[bat: Happy HOWLoween, folks! I wish I could say I was off wandering on the moors but reality is, I spent the Full Hunter’s Moon on top of a hill house-sitting Cujo, Jr. (He came by this moniker fairly; the first time I met him, he bit me three times. You’d think I would have turned down the job because of that.) But I’m back now and ready to add comments!]
Wait, is this an interactive werewolf story? The opening cards make me believe so: This film is a detective story — in which you are the detective. The question is not “Who is the murderer?” — But “Who is the werewolf?” After all the clues have been shown — You will get a chance to give your answer. [bat: Oh my god, it’s Clue, but with werewolves?!]
This might be WONDERFUL. I’m not sure if this will impact how I’m recapping it, since I recap as I go, but I guess we’ll see! I’m sure bat will have a blast watching me flail, if I do.
Note from the future: The werewolf break is around 1 hour 16 minutes. Also, I did not add the tagline until after I watched the movie, so my surprise here is real. [bat: My copy has Portuguese subtitles, this will be fun. Also, apparently there is some British crime drama series that uses the same title and that really messed with search results. Also there is no actual beast in the crime drama, which is just misleading.]
Some very 70s music brings us into a long shot of heavily wooded hills. I’m not a fan of much 70s music but this does have me dancing. Which is good because this shot is shaking enough that it’s starting to trigger my vertigo. Love that.
Okay, had to skip ahead a bit. Hope I didn’t miss anything. [bat: Well, we’re clearly in England. And I know that not only because I checked and this was filmed at Shepperton Studios in Surrey. Like my ability to identify Canada IN EVERYTHING, I can also identify England. Lame party trick. You missed nothing except a very blurry car traveling along a road, Wing.]
Everything resolves into a white helicopter pilot hunting a black man who is running through the woods AND MORE SHAKY CAM I DID NOT EXPECT THIS. There’s a truck full of, I think, white men also hunting him and cameras set up in the trees. Another white dude is watching the cameras and tells the others he has scanner contact.
Running dude enters an open field and helicopter pilot flies real damn close. Why is the camera so shaky holy shit. Even the shots that aren’t from the helicopter are shaky. [bat: It was the 70s. Everything was shaky. It was the era of disco.]
Running dude gets back into the trees and notices the cameras. Keeps running and checking for the cameras when he stops. He’s wearing knee high boots that don’t look all that comfortable for running.
Oooh, truck is full of white men, all armed with, I think, scoped rifles. That’s a good sign.
Despite him trying to be careful, cameras are following running dude. Group of armed dudes is either half out of the truck and half in or they’ve been dropped off twice. [bat: One pair was dropped off at one map point, the second pair at another. Surprise, there *aren’t* continuity issues!] Running dude isn’t running quite so fast, breathing hard, and finally takes a tumble and turns it into hiding in the undergrowth.
There are not just cameras but also microphones in the woods! Sensitive enough to pick up running dude’s heartbeat. Running dude notices one just in time for one armed dude to find him. Monitoring dude says he’ll get another chance, armed dude backs off, and hiding dude becomes running dude again.
About two minutes after he starts running, another armed dude catches him and says he’s dead; running dude tells him he’s not until armed dude pulls the trigger. When armed dude pulls the trigger, there’s no shot fired. (This armed dude looks younger than everyone else.)
Another armed dude catches running dude but lets him go. [bat: This smells like a useless exercise that’s trying to trigger a reaction, to me. This is a huge fake out, isn’t it.]
Most or all of the armed dudes start coming together on running dude who keeps falling and he finally stands still when he reaches a well-maintained lawn in front of a mansion (plantation house, maybe) where a bunch of rich white people are taking tea. [bat: It’s a country estate. The gentry are decidedly taking tea.]
Armed dudes follows running dude out of the woods and shoot him down. Rich white people scream and run to check on no-longer-running dude while armed dudes rush back into the trees. [bat: … after ALL THAT they shot him in front of witnesses?!]
While rich white people check no-longer-running dude’s vitals, he starts laughing and we pan back to show that running dude was, of course acting and monitoring dude gave armed dudes blanks to make it more entertaining.
Running dude questions the addition of cameras and mics because they might be destroyed since he was able to spot them. Monitoring dude shows him the underground grid pattern that shows microphones buried under the surface and there are a lot. Each one can detect a human footstep up to a range of one mile. The system can distinguish between humans and animals. The house has a pressure strip buried 100 yards from the house and nothing can cross it without activating an alarm.
Nothing can penetrate running dude’s estate with him knowing about it, identifying it, and being able to pinpoint it. He’s paid monitoring dude a lot of money to set up this system.
Monitoring dude is Pavel. Nice to have a name at last.
Pavel wants to know why running dude is spending all this money. Pavel guesses protection, but running dude asks against whom, but then goes on to say that he’s a big man and big men always have enemies, but he’s the hunter whether on safari or in the boardroom, he goes after what he wants. The room they’re in has animal heads mounted on the walls and lots of art from various African countries. It’s all designed to show off his wealth and personality, and it works. Nicely done, set designers. [bat: Weird to have a security monitoring system crammed in a room where you’re trying to display trophies, but whatever. Seeing as my crib was placed in a massive trophy room with taxidermy mounts and a huge gun cabinet at night when I was a small child, I may be biased?]
Running dude grew up very poor but made himself rich by hunting tourists, specifically a rich woman who took him with her and led to this prosperity.
Pavel doesn’t let him evade the question, though, and again asks why spend all this money on the monitoring system.
I’m unsurprised when running man says that it will allow him to hunt the biggest game of all and implies that he wants to hunt his rich guests. Or just one of them, muahahahaha.
Back to the rich guests, one of them is a black woman now. Running dude — come the fuck on, why have they not given me his name yet — says that he’s brought them together in part because they all have something in common. [bat: DEATH. THEY ALL HAVE DEATH IN COMMON.]
OH FINALLY, HIS NAME IS TOM.
Anyway, Tom’s breaking down this one thing, so I’ll do a character intro on each of them! I make no claims that I will remember any of the rich white people’s names, though. They already look fairly interchangeable.
Bennington: UN Delegate until two members of his entourage disappeared. He was exonerated but he lost his political career and is now a tv show host. [bat: Bennington is the Criminologist. He’s also sassy.]
Maestro: International concert pianist who played worldwide but now certain European capitals have banned him because there were nasty killings in those cities when he played there, all victims found with their throats torn out. [bat: HEY DUMBLEDORE 2.0!]
Davina: Tom’s wife’s(?) friend. She’s there, though, because when she’s a houseguest, people end up shot, quite dead, and half eaten. [bat: This actress was in Swing Kids but I don’t remember her?]
Paul: Went to prison for eating human flesh. Started out to be a doctor but nine medical students each ate a piece of human flesh, an anatomical specimen, for curiosity, bravado. [bat: Mr Foote? Sounds like Mr Body. He also looks like a lost member of the BeeGees. He’s been in several things I’ve seen him in; he was in Game of Thrones, season 7, episode 7.]
Dr Lundgren: Archaeologist but his passion is the loup-garou, or Rollock as he calls it. Human flesh torn out and eaten. [bat: Governor Tarkin, I recognized your foul stench when I, uh, started watching this film.]
Tom says the result of everything is the same, human flesh torn out and eaten and one of them knows it too well because one of them is a werewolf.
Fun murder mystery shot of everyone staring at him while looking simultaneously shocked and guilty. [bat: DUN DUN DUNNNNNN!]
Pavel is watching all of this and he looks frustrated. I don’t blame him.
I gave in and looked up the black woman’s name because I’m more than 15 minutes in and I don’t think I’ve heard it yet: Caroline.
Caroline and Tom talk about how this isn’t a joke; she wants him to send them home, but he refuses because apparently this most dangerous game hunting is more important than his wife’s comfort.
A dream of hunting and facing what no man has ever trapped before, to give up that dream, no way.
On the one hand, that’s still a dick move toward your wife. At least warn her you’re inviting potential werewolves to your home so she can leave or prepare or whatever. On the other hand, where can I sign up for this experience? [bat: You could totally throw a party, like those ones where it’s a murder mystery dinner thing, but instead of a murderer you could have a werewolf. This would be a very Wing party.]
She teases him (or does she) about what he’ll do if the werewolf turns out to be her. He very dramatically pauses and then finger guns her complete with sound effects. That is not the answer she wanted. [bat: The fact he just totally lumped her in with all the other werewolf suspects is pretty telling that not all is well within their marriage.]
They have a very cute dog. I hope it lives. [bat: OH NO. NOT A DOGGO. DOGGO BETTER LIVE.]
One of the rich white dudes takes off in a car. Tom immediately rushes into the hunting truck and chases after him. Do I know which rich white dude this is? No, I do not. I am so bad with faces. [bat: It’s Dumbledore. I will not use actual character names unless I want to. Also, he’s not wearing his seat belt. Safety third!]
Tom keeps taking shortcuts through the trees, which is smart, but this causes a shaky cam effect, which sucks. Thanks for that, movie. I’d like to be able to focus here and not look away because you’re killing me via vertigo.
This chase scene is taking forever too. Unnecessarily long. [bat: It is not as long as OPENING / ESTABLISHING SHOT OF VAN DRIVING THROUGH CANADA long.]
I’m surprised Tom doesn’t have more things set up to stop people from trying to leave via car. Maybe he enjoys the race to get in front of rich white dude. …probably he does. [bat: Tom is also driving a Range Rover, which means he can drive over rocky terrain and such. This could totally be a Range Rover commercial. It is also very anti-climactic, in terms of car chases.]
It finally stops and rich white dude says he was going to the village, but Tom shouts that he was trying to escape, and he reiterates that he really does believe one of them is a werewolf.
Rich white dude offers to stay there if Tom lets the others go. Tom wants to know who he’s trying to protect and wonders if it’s Davina.
Later, Tom smokes, talks at Pavel, and watches his prey on screen after screen of surveillance cameras. [bat: I kept wondering where I’d seen Pavel before. The actor was in the 1966 film adaptation of Fahrenheit 451.]
Tom tells Pavel that he heard werewolves were very common in his country (Poland, based on a later statement from Tom), and Pavel says one of the reasons he escaped to England was to get away from a mentality that believes in werewolves. Tom says that he prefers to use science to garlic and wolfsbane strewn about the house. But garlic would make it smell so good! [bat: Garlic doesn’t work on werewolves… or is that just teenage vampires?]
In this scene of Tom talking about hunting a werewolf, he’s framed by two of the animal heads mounted on the wall. The camera angle isn’t clean enough for me to 100% think it’s on purpose, but if it is, it’s a great choice.
First up is Jan (…which rich white dude was he? The musician?) [bat: Dumbledore!] and Davina, who used to be his pupil. They had a good thing going until he dumped her, and things were tense between them, but Jan hasn’t played in a year, not since he came down with a virus, and after she heard, Davina came back to him. [bat: Pavel also calls Davina frigid, by stating she looks like “butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth.” Great.]
Paul Foote is next on the screens. He spent a summer painting in St. Tropez and a man was found partially eaten during that time. One of the paintings was a man being attacked by a devil and the face of that man was the face of the victim; he claims he copied it from a newspaper photograph.
Tom monologues about how he’s going to prove wrong all the books that claim werewolves don’t exist.
Conditions are ideal: full moon (we have one).
A white dude [bat: Dumbledore!] asks Dr Lundgren if he believes werewolves exist. Dr L says that everyone has a mess of glands in the throat, the lymphatic glands, that secretes lymph into the bloodstream, and it is the vital element in the condition that creates a werewolf. [bat: …this is at bad at science as Flatliners was?] It releases a colorless alkaline resembling blood but containing no red corpuscles. Once it’s released, it causes the disease that produces the werewolf.
Tom points out that Dr L sounds sorry for the beast, and he does because it is totally unable to deny the urge to feed on human flesh. Primary symptoms are growing of body hair and itchiness of the skin. [bat: So, werewolves have eczema? I HAVE ECZEMA.] As the hormone breaks down, the werewolf victim begins to change identity: red eyes like a mad dog, body next, and when transmogrification is complete, the urge to eat human flesh is uncontrollable. The werewolf will die of the condition, painfully and pitifully. Early stage of disease the blood recovers and the werewolf can regain human shape almost at will, but the blood is growing unstable until the white corpuscles can no longer fight off any disease or virus known to mankind, which is what kills them.
While this monologue is monologuing, a servant brings in a tray of meat. Both Caroline and Davina stare at it with strong focus, but by the time Dr L is talking about the transmogrification, Davina says she’s lost her appetite. Still, she keeps staring when the server pours some sort of red liquid over the meat.
Caroline, too, says she’s lost her appetite but invites the others to eat. [bat: This is like the sea bass lunch scene in Jurassic Park.]
Apparently Dr L has been searching for werewolves his entire life. White dude in white suit (maybe Jan?) [bat: Ding, ding, ding! It’s Dumbledore!] is deeply sarcastic over how to hunt them, you know, exactly like Tom has done to them.
Tom shows no remorse, of course, and says that when one of them is compelled to turn into a werewolf under the full moon, it will run loose on the estate, which is bugged everywhere, and then you take a rifle, track it, corner it, and kill it, as he plans to do.
Another white dude (Foote, maybe? Oh god why can’t I tell any of them apart?) [bat: It’s Dumbledore! Again.] says there is a faster, simpler way to tell who is a werewolf: the candlestick is silver. Dr L confirms that silver would almost instantaneously kill a werewolf. [bat: With a level of pseudo-science that made me groan.] White dude passes around with the candlestick and white dude in white suit [bat: That’s Foote.] calls it a classy version of Russian roulette, which does make me laugh. He goes so far as to kiss the candlestick. Dr L touches it with no problem. They skip Tom conveniently. [bat: MY SUSPICION GROWS.] Davina has no trouble with it. White dude in white suit [bat: Criminologist.] says he’s always loathed party games but does eventually take it. Caroline grabs it angrily and tells Tom that since he’s wrecked dinner, she’ll have a stiff drink and almost everyone thinks that’s a good idea. [bat: Do werewolves fall under the “if you invite them into your home it renders you powerless” rule? INQUIRING MINDS.]
Dr L originally stayed eating but then talks to Caroline about how Tom knew the experiment would fail because there was no wolfbane pollen in the air. DUDE. D U D E. You were the one who said silver would kill a werewolf! Are you making this shit up as you go? [bat: YES. YES HE IS.]
He talks more about all the elements needed: full moon activates the gland, wolfbane pollen acts as an irritant as the trigger point (and wolfsbane doesn’t grow in Great Britain and only pollinates during the autumn. [bat: This is a fucking lie. Monkshood totally grows freely throughout the UK. It is a native species.]
Cut to Tom headed into the greenhouse. Gotta love a man this prepared.
While he’s in there, he hears someone step on something and then footsteps running away. DRAMATIC. As is the lingering shot on the wolfsbane flowers.
He doesn’t find anyone when he runs off to look around, but someone finds him and throws an axe at him from inside what looks like an old shed. Tom retrieves it and goes running off again. He finds a door swinging on what looks like maybe an old barn and doesn’t hesitate before running inside. He has no light and keeps bumping into things, until he knocks down a bunch of stuff and a small pitchfork or something similar lands so that it is around his neck. A shadow moves and someone runs off.
He removes the pitchfork and throws the axe in frustration.
He returns to the plant, removes the plant tag stating that it’s wolfsbane, and we cut to a dramatic shot of the full moon so that Tom can dramatically bring the plant inside. He tells them exactly what it is. Why did you remove the plant tag then? To be extra dramatic?
…actually, I’d buy that. He is wonderfully over the top.
Caroline tries to convince him that he’s bothered there guests enough with the candlestick, but he’s not going to stop because now there is pollen in the air.
Dr L has no idea how long the transformation will take. If the werewolf is young, and the disease in early stages, the willpower may hold off the change for hours, but not nearly long enough to avoid changing. [bat: Do we really trust his “scientific knowledge” here? I mean…]
The full moon lasts at least three days, Tom says, and surprises them, and Caroline, with the news that he’s given the staff time off so that this group will be alone in the house. Caroline, who is now put in charge of taking care of them, is not well pleased. I don’t blame her. Tom, you’re an interesting man but a shit husband.
Oh no, there are two white dudes in suits. The younger of the two is the artist, I assume, because he’s talking about “agro-art” where you express your creative aggression by beating paint with a whip. I should probably make some time for that.
Tom joins Pavel in watching the cameras but in however long it’s been since he left them, two of them have gone missing. He frantically searches for them on the different cameras but only finds empty room after empty room. [bat: I will take that massive pair of kudu horns in that one bedroom, please!]
Finally he finds Davina and one of the white dudes (I assume the musician from past conversations) walking in the gardens. They talk about how Tom is being weird and how she knows Caroline from sharing a flat with her and how Tom’s a hunter who will go after anything.
In the distance, something howls.
Kissing time! And then white dude suggests they go back inside so Tom doesn’t think they’re both werewolves and come after them. Pavel is skeptical that either of the “lovebirds” are werewolves but Tom makes him keep them on screen. They go to a piano and white dude who is the musician starts to play Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” which is apropos for a werewolf story, and overused, and beautiful.
We skip over to Dr L and older white dude in a suit who are playing chess. Instead of black pieces, Dr L’s side is red, which is nice. (In the background, Carlin reads and a marble statue of a naked man looms over her.)
Dr L puts white suit dude’s king in check, but it’s not checkmate yet.
Old white suit dude pours young white suit dude a drink and points out that even the backs of young white suit dude’s hands are covered in hair. Real subtle there, old white suit dude.
Talk turns again to how Tom expects one of them to turn into a werewolf, and young white suit dude asks if there have been any signs yet. Dr L says no and recommends that he locks his bedroom door if he goes upstairs. Young white suit dude mocks this advice.
Tom orders Pavel to follow young white suit dude instead of staying with the group.
Young white suit dude (who is carrying a whip so must be artist) takes himself to the quiet upstairs but stops before he enters his room. This break is for him to examine his hands, which are fairly hairy and his nails looking a little like claws.
Tom’s real interested in this, of course.
The bedrooms are cammed, too, and I am creeped out. The bathrooms are not, and Pavel says it’s because he didn’t think to do it, which is not the answer either Tom or I want to hear but for very different reasons.
Young white suit artist dude takes out a straight razor and holds it to his hand but puts it away before he does anything with it and instead stares dramatically into the mirror then goes back to undressing. His chest is a little hairy, too. Tom admits he can’t remember if dude’s hands were always hairy like that.
They jump cameras to where Caroline is escorting the others up to their rooms and they are talking about how Tom is losing his mind. [bat: I’m just losing my attention span.]
Tom’s annoyed and even moreso when Pavel asks if he wants to watch his guests in their beds. He’s no voyeur after all. He’s just, you know, put cameras and mics everywhere.
Tom changes into a shiny pajama top and goes to sleep in a leather chair nearby while cradling a gun.
Pavel, meanwhile, must stay awake. Surely he has someone to spell him. [bat: Why is no one suspicious of the man who comes from “werewolf country”?]
Finally a close up of the wolfsbane that then pulls back to pan through the empty rooms (filled with Tom’s animal trophies) until we return to find Tom asleep and Pavel looking like he’s about to doze off.
And then an alarm! There’s activity on the estate, target heading toward the river. No visual contact yet, it’s staying close to cover. Tom quickly loads up on gun and ammunition, demands Pavel zoom in on the target, and then runs off.
Even though we had cleaner shots earlier, the shot of the target is blurry, but it does look like something that could be a werewolf.
Tom is hunting in his pajama shirt. WTF Tom. I expected you to be better prepared when it comes to your clothing.
Tom hunts, Pavel gives directions, target heads straight for Tom, Pavel gets Tom on screen but can’t seem to get the target, but can keep telling Tom that it’s almost on him. It runs past Tom who gets a few shots off but doesn’t hit it (and it looks like a dog) [bat: That was a scrawny German Shepherd.] and then the target runs back toward the house while Tom and Pavel talk about how all they saw of it was a vague shape. I’m going to suspend my disbelief on this because I think it is more a feature of the budget and decade of the movie than poor design.
Tom says the target is coming for Pavel to stop him from guiding Tom. Pavel remains calm and says he doesn’t believe in werewolves; Tom doesn’t care about his belief because it’s not like that will stop an actual werewolf and Tom clearly believes that’s what’s hunting the grounds right now.
He orders Pavel to protect himself, to lock the door, to find something silver.
The target comes back within the ground around the house inside the pressure strip which means they can’t so easily track them. Even though Tom is still out, no other lights seem to be lit up because of his presence, which is a continuity error.
Tom continues to order him to get something silver but Pavel goes for a handgun instead. Fair enough, my dude. (In this shot is the first time we see, or maybe the first time I notice, that this room is covered by a skylight. Why would you put a room full of monitors in a room that will be filled with sunlight during the day? Why wasn’t it that bright earlier?)
Pavel returns to the control booth to search for the target on camera. He doesn’t find anything but grows tense until he sees a shadow pass over him and sure enough the adorable black dog werewolf is on the roof panting adorably hunting him through the skylight. Even though it does nothing, he shoots at it and breaks at least one of the glass panes, because that’s a good way to make yourself more protected.
Wolf licks its chops and leaps in through the skylight, Pavel screams, I want to pet the sweet little maneating puppy.
Tom’s finally made his way back to the house, but he’s too late (and no one inside the house appears to have heard the screams). The control room is destroyed and Pavel is dead. I’ll miss you, Pavel. Just like you’re missing an eye. [bat: I GUESS YOU WERE SAFER IN POLAND, PAVEL!]
Maybe you shouldn’t have told everyone about your surveillance equipment if you planned to hunt one of them, dude. [bat: This movie wants me to believe that scrawny “werewolf” did all that damage to that much equipment in a short window of time? Sure, Jan.]
Oh finally, the group come out not because they heard screaming but because they heard shots. Quite some time ago at this point, really. Tom says he did it, he thought he saw a poacher, and Davina says she did hear a scream. Someone else suggests it was just a dog howling. Heh.
Tom wants to know where Paul Foote is and storms off toward his room with everyone following him.
In Paul’s room, the window is open, but Paul appears to be asleep in his bed. Tom accuses him of playing possum, but one of the white dudes [bat: The Criminologist, appropriately.] finds sleeping pills and makes that an explanation for why Paul is so groggy. No one else is missing, and Tom is real grumpy over this.
The next morning (I assume), a helicopter arrives and Tom orders the installation of the night camera and scanner scream and to be on standby at the house that night. Uh, if you have this tech (and these people) at your disposal why did you not put them into play last night? [bat: Well, he was hunting in his pyjammas, so…]
Many of the rich white guests are outside, some reading in the shade, some playing croquet. Caroline approaches Tom on Davina’s behalf; Davina’s worried about Jan and she wants to take him back to town right away.
Tom, of course, is having nothing of that and just walks away.
Dr L (I think, they’ve changed clothes with the new day, of course, and I had only just started to figure them out based on those clothes — I think I may have Dr L’s face down, though) watches Tom walk away, a thoughtful, slightly sad expression on Dr L’s face.
(Caroline wears a cream-coloured flowy suit, and I like it.)
Tom decides to ensure no one tries to fuck off in a car again and removes important parts from them. He keeps holding one hand behind his back. The cute dog follows him, the camera shaky on them both for no goddamn reason. Tom tries to order the dog back but it keeps following him and then runs off ahead of him.
Tom leashes the dog with some handy rope and ties him to a ramshackle building. Maybe the same building from which someone threw an axe the day before.
That theory is supported by the fact that as Tom passes, someone lifts a bow and aims an arrow at him. The dog barks, because dogs are super useful and you should keep them close especially when hunting a werewolf or if you are the werewolf and the dog loves you anyway, which startles archer before they shoot.
Tom fails to appreciate this save and keeps walking into the trees. For awhile we get a shot as if something is following Tom through the trees, and because there’s been so much unintentional (or so it appears) shaky cam, I can’t tell if that is intention or not.
Tom stops near the water and an arrow flies right past his face to embed itself in the tree next to him. One of the rich white dudes calls out that he missed. Artist rich white dude, maybe. He’s drinking, because that’s totally safe.
Rich white dude says he’s been tracking Tom, hunting the hunter, and calls out the cameras in the trees. There’s some snark between them that is delightful, and Tom shows him the car parts before tossing them into the river.
In the next scene, dinner again, Tom tells them all that he tossed the rotary arm from all the cars into the river and he’ll replace them at his own expense after he’s done with everyone.
More fighting over him not being able to keep them against their will, and when one of the white dudes says he’ll call the police, Tom breaks the news that the phones seem to be down. Gee, I wonder why.
(The creators wouldn’t recognize the extra danger in a white man calling the police on a black man, even a rich black man in his own home, but it’s there.)
Tom says he’ll keep them around for one more night now that all the conditions are perfect and he doesn’t think they have long to wait. Full moon, wolfsbane, I guess he’s certain the lymph is loose in at least one of them.
Tom wants them to play the candlestick game.
Rich white dude in a white suit — oh, good, at least two of them appear to be back in their dinner outfits from the night before — young white suit dude who is definitely the artist grabs it. Old white suit dude, Bennington, threatens Tom that someone should beat him to death with the candlestick, then tries to grab it but Tom jerks it out of his way.
He offers it to Davina next and calls her out on her eagerness to leave, but musician Jan stops him from talking to her. Tom abandons the candlestick game to monologue at them about how he’s checked them all out, they’re all suspect, one of them is a werewolf.
Caroline grabs the candlestick and flings it into a mirror, telling him that she’s had enough, she doesn’t recognize him anymore, he has to win all the time, he’s let his passion for hunting turn into a bloodlust and she’ll have no part of it.
And then in her dramatic hand gesture she breaks something and draws blood on her hand. She tells him it’s what he wanted and runs off; he won’t let anyone follow her.
He tells the rest of them that when the time comes, he’ll be waiting.
Tom arms himself again and goes to work trying to repair some of the surveillance equipment. Uh, you had all day to do that, dude. Why are you waiting until after dark when you expect to be on a werewolf hunt soon? Pavel’s dead body is still in the room, though at least covered by a sheet. I want him to heal and turn into a werewolf, but I don’t think this is that kind of werewolf story, alas.
Tom hears howling in the distance, abandons his (delayed) repairs, and takes off to find it. He kicks open a door, looks inside briefly, and walks on, checking a couple other doors. I was going to give him shit for not actually checking the rooms, but apparently he was waiting just long enough to see the person in there before moving on, and I can’t criticize that.
Dr L and Davina come out of the rooms he’s checked, along with Caroline who tries to stop Tom. The howling continues, and Caroline is shocked, particularly because they are all there.
EXCEPT PAUL FOOTE IS MISSING DUN-DUN-DUUUUUUUUN.
(Is Paul Foote the artist?) [bat: Yes. The BeeGees-wannabe, long pig eating, aggro-artist. Him of hairy hands and chest.]
Tom jumps into the helicopter with his gun and his silver bullets and they go hunting from the air, with the infrared camera attached to the bottom of the helicopter.
Brief glimpses of the werewolf, Tom fires a goddamn machine gun trying to hit it (a machine gun with silver bullets? That’s a new one for me), the werewolf heads for the … barn, I think, though closed captioning says wall, they chase it into the greenhouse, Tom shoots up everything, reloads his machine gun, and has the helicopter land so he can blast the greenhouse/shed thing full of another load of bullets.
Is this how you normally hunt? Because this requires no skill at all.
He then goes looking for the werewolf. Some animal is in the hay, panting. Pilot gets out of the helicopter and walks toward the building. Tom finally turns on a flashlight as he searches. Stuff falls from above, and this is definitely the barn now. He hears a dog barking and suddenly Caroline and cute dog show up.
Tom says the werewolf is in the barn somewhere, cute dog barks and barks, and suddenly we have snarling and growling from the other cute dog werewolf.
It attacks cute dog, Caroline screams and won’t let Tom shoot for fear of hitting cute dog, the fight continues but I am unimpressed because Monster Dog has been in far worse fights (hell, I’ve had to wade into worse dog fights to get her out of them — I do not recommend wading into a dog fight, but apparently my instinct is to get her out of it in any way possible my own welfare be damned; she wears a harness in large part because I can grab the strap that runs along her back and lift her away. Have you ever lifted 50 pounds of snarling, fighting dog out of a fight? It’s certainly an experience. That I’ve had more than once. Anyway, the point of this long aside is that this dog fight is not all that fighty). [bat: Cujo, Jr is maybe, I dunno, 15-20lbs? I’m bad at guessing. Anyway, he turns into a super strong and snarling pain in my ass when he perceives the presence of another dog or person anywhere nearby. He literally embarrassed me to death by freaking out on an Amazon delivery guy who was clear down the street. He also has to wear a harness which I have to hold onto while planting my feet and holding still while trying to drag him away from the perceived threat. It’s taxing as fuck.]
Pilot takes out his small handgun, werewolf (who is a black dog on what I’d call the larger end of medium and has some sort of fake fur pelt on it) [bat: It looks like a black German Shepherd to me, with a fake neck ruff. Which makes it look all kinds of fuzzy adorable.] maybe kills good dog and at the very least leaves them in the hay and then leaps past Tom and Caroline and runs outside.
Pilot tries to shoot him, werewolf attacks, Pilot hugs the werewolf a lot while Tom shoots at them and manages to blow up the gas tank on the helicopter, which is quickly in flames. Tom still manages not to hit the werewolf even though he’s close as fuck and has a machine gun. [bat: The man shot up his fucking greenhouse AND shot up his helicopter. YET HE CANNOT HIT THE WEREWOLF. I am beginning to question how he came by all his big game trophies.]
Helicopter: ON FIRE YAY. Pilot: Dead. Eh. Cute Dog: Possibly dead. NOOOOOOOOOOO. Tom: A fucking terrible shot for this experienced big game hunter.
Dr L shows up, a bit of calm in a lot of chaos.
Oh, cute dog is injured but not yet dead. Caroline is petting them and crying while Davina sits next to her. Tom tells Davina to take Caroline back to the house and asks Dr L to make sure they get there safely. Tom is going to shoot good dog and I’m going to start rooting for the helicopter fire to take out everyone.
Tom shoots the goddamn dog, and I want the fire to take out everyone. [bat: DAMN IT, NOT DOGGO. FUCK YOU, TOM.]
Back at the house Tom fires one shot into the air and then races upstairs. He confronts Paul Foote, who is the young white suit dude artist; he says he went outside to check on the howling himself. Tom doesn’t believe him because he saw the werewolf from the helicopter but he didn’t see Paul. Paul said he saw him shooting from his “whirlybird” a nickname I haven’t heard in a long time.
Uh, apparently Jan (?) was also gone even though we never actually learned that earlier; apparently Tom knew and didn’t share, because he confronts Jan. Jan says he went out too, for the same reason, but like Paul he can’t prove it, though he did hear someone come in after him, someone who made noise on the stairs.
Paul says it was him, tripping over his own feet.
Tom is furious because his pilot is dead. No care for Pavel, I guess. He says once the werewolf tasted human flesh they could turn back into their human form. That’s a detail I like quite a bit. [bat: A twist I haven’t heard before, interesting.]
Tom seems pretty certain it is either Paul or Jan, but Dr L points out that Bennington is also missing. I think Bennington is old white suit dude. [bat: The Criminologist.]
Tom orders them all to stay where they are while he goes looking. He lets himself into a bedroom and finds bloody handprints on the walls and all the furniture in disarray.
I’ve failed to mention that Tom is wearing his Big Game Hunter Finest, which is to say a black vinyl (?) jumpsuit. I fucking love that. [bat: Didn’t everybody in 1974 wear a pleather jumpsuit?]
Bennington (who I think is old white suit dude) is dead! DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUH. [bat: Did he jump to the left? Or step to the right?]
Cut to the next day. Tom points out that even if the phone was working there’s no way they could explain the werewolf and the pilot and Bennington’s deaths to the cops. Still no mention of Pavel. I know the others didn’t originally know he was there, but you’re looking pretty cold, Tom.
Two killings in one night means the disease has a firmer hold and the person’s hold is getting weaker.
Tom says tonight, the last night of the full moon, is his last chance to get the werewolf and TITLE DROP the beast must die … and will.
Yesterday you said last night was the last night you’d have them. I know it’s because you thought you’d kill the werewolf that night, but you are looking reaaaaaaaaaaaal untrustworthy. I mean, even more than you did when you brought everyone together so you could finger one of them as a werewolf and hunt them down.
Tom seems pretty set on either Jan or Paul being the werewolf. He keeps talking and threatening at them even though Dr L, Caroline, and Davina are also there. I honestly can’t tell if we’re missing anyone at this point or not, all the white dudes have blurred together so, but I think everyone still alive is present for this conversation. I think.
Tom makes that final threat and the camera zooms in on Paul’s hairy face as he slowly turns and gives the camera a dramatic look.
More spinny camera in the woods, Paul is running off wearing light-colored clothes so he stands out against the dark trees but blends a little with the wild plants and flowers. Way too much spinny camera for me to watch real close, but eventually he runs into a chain link fence. AN ELECTRIFIED CHAIN LINK FENCE. Nicely done, Tom.
Paul, reeling from the shock, tries to climb a tree but breaks something off and falls back to the ground, only to turn around and find Tom watching him, handgun aimed at him. Tom sends him back to the house and we reach the werewolf break.
Honestly, I’ve had such an issue with shaky cam and trying to figure out which white dude was doing what that I have no idea of who anyone is, much less who the werewolf is. I want it to be Davina or Caroline because I love women who are werewolves and because I like the idea of Tom underestimating his wife. Story-wise, it makes sense for it to not be Jan or Bennington because Tom is too fixed on them. It very well could be Bennington who might have faked his death; it’s not like we got a good look at the body nor have we seen it laid out like Pavel’s was. (Poor Pavel, ignored even by Tom.)
I’m struggling in part because I keep reaching for logic that would be appropriate if it had been made more recently; I tend to be able to figure out plot twists and who’s the werewolf because of how current creators want to go for the least likely or the biggest shock or whatever, often to the detriment of their own story. In that light, it would be Tom himself, perhaps, or no werewolf at all, it’s all just a delusion (and probably not even Tom’s delusion), or it’s a story within a story, a game within a story, etc. I’m just not sure that applies to an older werewolf movie like this.
So I’m going to throw Dr L out there and we’ll see what we see.
[bat: I think it’s all a red herring. We’ve been given standard human traits and diseases as “evidence”, Dr L supposedly knows all kinds of shit about lyncanthropy but we caught him making shit up, and all the focus has been on the men in the assembled party. Sure, Davina has been suspect but I think that’s guilt by association because of Jan’s (Dumbledore!) undisclosed condition. So I’m going to go with Caroline. Because it makes sense that Tom would put on a big fucking show to entrap his wife, since they clearly have marriage problems, and Caroline has complained about this whole exercise since the beginning. Tom just blew up a helicopter, wasted big bucks on surveillance, three people have been killed on his property and he shot his poor doggo. THIS IS ALL TOM’S FAULT, SOMEHOW. I JUST KNOW IT IS.]
I paused before I wrote all the above, and I laughed when I realized that the werewolf break includes a reminder of each character. I could have used more names throughout the actual bulk of the movie! But this is somewhat helpful, I suppose.
Thirty second countdown with a ticking clock over their faces.
(I really want to kiss Caroline in this shot.)
Tom confronts Paul in front of everyone and says he has to be the werewolf because he ran and he must have run because he couldn’t hold out much longer. Paul says he ran because he’s scared, and he has every right to be scared because last night two men had their throats ripped out.
(I REMEMBER YOU, PAVEL.)
Tom says he’s scared of how many people Paul’s going to have to kill tonight.
Paul says he can prove it and goes to grab the candlestick. He also points out that he held it last night at dinner.
(As an example of my logic influenced by more current werewolf stories, my thought every single time is that it’s not made of actual silver, much like that scene in Cursed.)
Davina says they all held it last night at dinner and Bennington still died (PAVEL AND PILOT, I REMEMBER YOU), but that’s a damn lie, they did not all hold it before Tom went off on his monologue and then Caroline flung it at the mirror. In fact, you were one of the ones who didn’t hold it because Jan interrupted, Caroline.
Tom holds steady in his belief that Paul is the werewolf, but demands that Dr L explain why silver has no effect. Dr L reiterates that if silver makes contact, the werewolf must die (BUT I’M ALIVE, Paul reminds them); Dr L goes on to say that it would be easy enough with modern things to protect the skin from the silver, such as with a plastic coating for cuts or nail varnish. Paul offers his hands up to Dr L, and Dr L seems to think they’re clean.
Tom brings out the silver bullets and says that no one is going to varnish the inside of their mouth. That’s fucking clever, Tom, even though I can now taste metal myself and feel an ache in my teeth. Got into my head with that one, movie, nicely done. Blargh.
Paul: Silver success.
Davina: Silver success.
Dr L: (Cleans it first with his handkerchief) [bat: Who is he, Niles Crane?!], silver success.
Caroline: (Because Tom can’t play favourites; Caroline calls it her pill.) Tom walks away rather than watch, which is unbelievable for the way he’s been, but it’s meant to be dramatic, because Caroline gasps, he turns back, and she’s crying as she puts it into her mouth with a hand that has already gone hairy.
MY WOMAN. [bat: I was right?]
She leaps at Tom, he shoots her dead, Davina freaks the fuck out and Jan has to take her from the room, and no one seems to remember that she was with Tom during the werewolf attack last night.
Dr L sends Paul off to help Jan with Davina, leaving himself alone with Tom, who holds Caroline’s ring and talks about killing her, shaken by this.
Dr L helps him over to a seat and brings him a drink, which is a totally valid response. As is Tom drinking it in one gulp.
He finally points out that she was in the barn with him last night and she held the candlestick at dinner — he’s struggling to believe what he’s seen, both tonight and previously.
Dr L says that if a human being is bitten by a werewolf and lives, they become a werewolf, the fatal hormone is transferred with the bite. SO THIS IS THAT TYPE OF LORE. I’m so glad, I wanted it to happen!
Tom argues that she wasn’t bitten, good dog was. Why must you remind me of that, Tom? I need a moment to root for fire again.
Dr L reminds him that she had an open wound on her hand from when she broke the glass during dinner and the blood from the infected dog could have infected her, too. [bat: Okay so I was right but Caroline isn’t the original werewolf. I get half the points?]
Just as Tom realises this means the original werewolf is still out there, Davina’s scream rings out.
Tom and Dr L run off to see what’s going on now and find Paul dead (I think) [bat: Yep, Paul got his throat ripped out, just like he was afraid would happen.] and Davina standing over his body, shaking and crying.
Tom has only one bullet left, which is ridiculous because Dr L and Davina both are right there and had silver bullets. Even if they left them in the room, just run down there and get at least those two. Also: THIS IS WHY YOU DON’T HAND OUT YOUR SILVER BULLETS AND AT THE VERY LEAST RETRIEVE THEM I DON’T CARE IF YOU THINK YOU’VE ALREADY KILLED THE WEREWOLF YOU NEVER KNOW IF THERE IS MORE. [bat: BECAUSE MORE WEREWOLVES IS ALWAYS A THING.]
Tom runs outside, the music goes real dramatic, we get a short werewolf standoff and then it races into the trees. Tom follows, and we’re on our last werewolf hunt. Shame he didn’t have time to put on his Hunting Jumpsuit. [bat: Damn it, he should be wearing his pleather Hunting Jumpsuit!]
…never mind the silver bullets, Tom you have at least half a dozen other guns, including a machine gun for which you allegedly had silver bullets, why are you carrying a handgun with one bullet?
Another dramatic standoff (though with Tom walking toward the werewolf, so walk off?), more shaky cam for no reason, Tom raises the gun, werewolf is panting like a cute good doggo, it races at Tom, both miss, another standoff, werewolf comes at Tom, they roll around apparently in the middle of a road though I thought we were in the trees, and then a gun fires.
The werewolf is dead and it slowly fades back to … am I supposed to actually recognise him? Because I don’t. Only the fact that Jan is the one left makes me know. [bat: *sings* IT WAS DUMBLEDORE, ALL ALONG! The fact he was the first to attempt to flee was an obvious clue but the movie succeeded in making it look like a red herring. Kudos, movie.]
Dr L and Davina come outside with a rifle to find Tom dramatically walking out of the fog.
The deed is done, Jan is dead, and Tom has, of course, has been bitten (though the wound they show looks more like claw marks). [bat: WTF. Tom says he’s just bruised when there’s CLEARLY BLOOD ALL OVER HIS ARM, before he tears his sweater to reveal OBVIOUS CLAW MARKS. Jan got the last laugh.] Tom reaches for a silver bullet (WHERE THE FUCK DID THIS ONE COME FROM) [bat: ALSO WHAT THE FUCK THAT BULLET IS MUCH LARGER CALIBER THEN THE ONES EVERYONE PUT IN THEIR MOUTHS!], and when he grabs it, he stands and takes the gun from Dr L, off to kill himself. Except I thought death was automatic when touching silver. [bat: Movie fail.]
Davina wails that there must be a cure, Dr L says there’s only one cure, and Tom heads into the dining room to do the deed. He’s hunted a werewolf, killed his long-time wife, and seen several of his guests and staff killed. Perhaps this will be like finally getting to rest for him. [bat: This is what hubris gets you, Tom. Also, you shot good doggo and put your poor wife in danger to prove you were the best at hunting.]
(Yeah, those are claw marks, not a bite, what the fuck, movie.)
Long shot of the house, Dr L and Davina outside, and then the retort of the rifle.
I wish I’d watched this sooner, because I want to work Caroline into my discussions of how women werewolves are treated in media (I’ve talked about it around here before but in short, women werewolves tend to be sexual predators who revel in being monsters, men werewolves tend to be pathetic monsters who hate what they’ve become, and Caroline is an excellent, if brief, example of the woman getting to be a pathetic creature in her monstrosity).
I enjoyed this far more than I expected when I realised there was no way in hell I was going to be able to keep any of the white dudes straight. It’s cheesy and the special effects are terrible and the werewolf looks like such a good doggo and the actual dog died and so did both black characters which I would normally find shitty as hell, but I really enjoyed the story itself and the idea of having an actual break to let the audience guess. I love unusual (even if only slightly) formats, and this would have been a lot of fun at the time, I think.
I’m sad that Dr L cleaning his silver bullet with a handkerchief before he put it in his mouth didn’t pan out into anything important, especially because he was the one who offered up the idea that the werewolf could protect themselves from the silver using some sort of film or something.
I’m glad I watched this.
[bat: I’m glad Wing chose this. It’s not a movie I would have sought out to watch on my own; the “whodunnit?” guessing format is fun and I wish it was utilized more often. I mean, in today’s age of social media and internet spoilers, it doesn’t work like it did in ye olden days before in-hand technology. Like, when I was in London, we went to see The Mousetrap. Which, of course, is a murder mystery and the audience is encouraged to not reveal the ending to anyone who has not viewed it. I mean, this play has been running since 1952, so the audience is taking heed and not spoiling it. I digress, but anyway, it was a fun format. The whole movie is cheesy AF – a pleather hunting jumpsuit is just *chef’s kiss* – and I think the fact it was a black man hunting white men as werewolves was a decent twist. Do I think the movie was executed well? No. But it was still a fun time. Guess I’m going to have to find something good to watch for my next entry into Snark at the Moon!]