Werewolves Within 2021 Director: Josh Ruben Ubisoft Film and Television
Newly appointed Forest Ranger Finn Wheeler (Sam Richardson) heads to Beaverfield, a small scenic town whose residents are currently divided by a pipeline proposal presented by a slick oilman Sam Parker. Finn meets the sweet and helpful postal worker Cecily, who helps him navigate his first day and introduces him to the town’s most eclectic residents, including estranged couple Trisha and Pete, wealthy transplants Devon and Joaquim, blue-collar besties Gwen and Marcus, activist environmentalist Dr. Jane Ellis, isolated hunter Emerson, and local lodge owner Jeanine, whose husband has mysteriously disappeared recently.
When a blizzard knocks out all power, the residents take shelter in the lodge. The next day Finn finds a generator ripped wide open and a mutilated body under the lodge porch, which could be Jeanine’s husband. Tensions over the future pipeline continue, as Finn investigates the mystery beast terrorizing the town. Does Forest Ranger truly have a sinister werewolf on his hands or is there a more down-to-earth explanation for these heinous crimes?
Veep alumni Sam Richardson leads an all-star cast in this campy horror-comedy based on the hit video game of the same name. While the video game was set in a medieval village, this movie takes place in modern times. The plot may not seem entirely original but entertains nonetheless. It’s funny, quirky, spooky fun, not chainsaw terrifying blood splatter, and it works perfectly with the witty banter between the characters. Filmed just before the pandemic hit, Director Josh Ruben shot on location in Hudson Valley, near Woodstock in New York, and used mostly practical effects and make-up for the monster and scares. Ruben, known for his successful meta horror-comedy Scare Me for Shudder, makes the most of a low-budget creature feature and impresses audiences with his creativity and wit.
Much in the way of Bruce Campbell’s legendary hero Ash from the Evil Dead series, Finn is not your typical hero. He’s just an ordinary everyday man who finds himself suddenly dealing with an extremely dangerous supernatural problem, maybe. The always solid funnyman Sam Richardson has built an impressive resume playing affable, offbeat characters and he aces the assignment yet again.
The town residents are basically a who’s who in television comedy. There are a lot of familiar faces here, including Groundlings and American Dad star Michaela Watkins, What We Do in the Shadow’s Harvey Guillen, American Horror Story heartthrob Cheyenne Jackson, and Orange Is the New Black and Stranger Thing’s comedienne Catherine Curtin, just to name a few. Everyone is a suspect. Everyone is a potential victim. And, they all equal parts funny and annoying in their own way, viewers aren’t sure if we should root for their survival or their slaughter.
The real treat here is Milana Vayntrub though. Best known as the AT&T spokesperson Lily, Milana once again uses her charm and girl-next-door likeability to keep viewers guessing whether she’s a misunderstood postal worker or a wolf under sheep’s clothing. I’ve never seen her in anything but a phone commercial so it was delightful to see her get a chance to shine a little and show off her comedic chops.
All in all, Werewolves Within is better than most horror movies based on video games. It’s a smartly written whodunnit that keeps the twists and turns going all the way to the end. This is a great date night or just staying home on a Saturday night movie.
Director Joe Geddes teams up with Pontypool writer and lead actor Stephen McHattie for visually stunning spooky adventure about a terminally ill grave digger who travels to hell to rescue the beautiful woman he falls in love with.
This highly-stylized CGI endeavor pays homage to 1950’s horror and sci-fi cinema, but lacks the campy fun of any such movies. Truth is this is more of an offbeat fantasy drama than horror and it takes itself quite seriously, which would have been fine if the story had made any sense. Despite the eye-popping visuals, the movie slogs along without actually going anywhere, which is a real shame for Stephen McHattie, who does a fine job playing Charlie Baker, a graveyard caretaker suffering from episodic pran disease (brain clunk). In addition to his head pounding pain, Charlie endures daily harassment from local children and starts to notice some bizarre vandalism happening in the cemetery. Problem is Charlie can’t be sure if this isn’t all an illusion. Charlie is tired of looking after the dead and wants to move to Florida, but after a visit from his employer, Charlie learns he’ll have to delay retirement for reasons not entirely clear and inherits a box with a mysterious map, which he can’t stand more than 10 feet away from. While on an afternoon drive, he meets an alluring woman named Fay, who is running away from an unseen force. The two quickly fall in love and Hell doesn’t seem to like it very much. Fay disappears just as quickly as she showed up.
The movie then introduces a subplot involving a squirrelly policeman on the hunt for two dangerous escaped criminals from the local insane asylum. The copper tells Charlie several small and strange tales of the cemetery’s more notorious residents. These small stories are perhaps the most interesting part of the whole movie. Unfortunately, the escaped criminals storyline goes nowhere fast, and soon after, Charlier Baker uses the mystery map to find his way into Hell, where he battle the forces of evil to win back his beloved Fay.
Unfortunately, the Sin City-style visuals and amazing set design are not enough to carry this one. I didn’t really have any problem with any of the other actors, particularly Julian Richings, who I felt was criminally underused here, but the characters needed more fleshing out and more clarity to their relevance to the main story. The end is one big beautiful muddled mess.
Horror fans won’t find any scares here, but for those who want weirdness and to witness some really cool visuals, this one’s for you.
After missing my own self-imposed deadlines in January and February, where I was to present a movie review for the month, I am determined not to miss March! Thus, I decided to triple down and do three movie reviews in celebration of our legendary creatures theme.
The truth is, earlier this March, I watched Dawn of the Beast, but it was only when I started writing the review did I realize the movie was actually the third cryptid monster film, following Monstrous and The Retreat, all directed by Bruce Wemple. Naturally, I had to watch the other two films.
Armed with a great love for campy horror films and his trusty cast of relative unknowns, New York director Bruce Wemple creates fresh horror that makes the socially conscious Gen Z crowd proud. All boxes checked. Wemple knows all the horror tropes, and these films felt like proper indie horror movies. There was decent acting, strong female characters, and lots of action. The camerawork makes good use of those shadows, close-up shots, and practical effects to perpetuate the scares and despite the low budget, the production quality was pretty good. I was even forgiving of the few man-in-a-monster-suit shots, which were super cheesy, but hey look, considering the third film was entirely developed during the pandemic, all of us should be impressed by that. I’ll be honest, I never gave much thought to Adirondack mountains before watching these films, and whatever location Wemple chose to shoot on location is some damn beautiful country. If I wasn’t so scared of the real Wendigo, I’d run out and buy a Winnebago.
There’s a lot of good psychological horror here too, especially in the second film, The Retreat. The biggest flaw of this cryptid trilogy was the films suffered from having too much story. I guess having too much story is better than having no story, right? It’s just these long drawn out or overly heavy exposition scenes take away our monster time, and when you make a feature film starring these two legendary creatures, you have got to have more monster!!
I should also mention upfront, each of these movies is stand-alone. You’ll understand each of them on their own just fine, but movie marathons are so much more fun.
The turkey is cooked, the pie devoured, and the guests are all passed out in the living room…you survived Thanksgiving…time now to kick back with a cocktail and watch some really bad horror films filled with annoying victims who didn’t.
Blood Rage – currently on Tubi Nothing says Thanksgiving like a murderous bad twin on a rampage. Run-of-the-mill low-budget 80s slasher, good for laughs and showcasing the once impressive state-of-the-art gory special effects of that time.
Thankskilling – currently on Pluto For those wondering what would happen if our turkeys turned on us and tortured us with bad puns before killing us, this one’s for you. Exactly what you’d expect for $5,000 Kickstarter film that promises boobs in the first few opening seconds of the film.
Black Friday – currently on On Demand Bruce Campbell. Zombies. Black Friday hell. I mean, what more do you need? Okay, fine, a group of toy store employees fight off hordes of Black Friday shoppers infected by some alien parasite. It’s a decent horror-comedy and like all good Zombie films, it has a little something to say about consumerism, customer service, and corporate greed. It’s campy, it’s fun, it’s a gross-out fest, and it’s a Thanksgiving film. Make sure dinner is settled in your tummy before watching.
Kristy – currently on Tubi Yes, I watched this because of the name, but it turned out to be a great thriller about a evil killer cult that randomly stalks a girl named Justine spending her Thanksgiving break on campus alone, believing her to be a “Kristy” aka a follower of God. It is a bit of a slog in the beginning and the story is not exactly original or even scary. That said, it is nicely shot and the acting is decent. Once things pop off, the cat and mouse chase is enough to keep the tension going. This isn’t a slasher per say, but I was definitely rooting for Justine to be a final girl.
Pilgrim – Only on Hulu Hulu’s Into the Dark season 2 has given us some great horror for all holidays and this is another truly creepy gem, beautifully shot, well-acted and genuinely scary. I should probably mention that I think historically pilgrims for real were evil people. Why someone thought to invite weirdos to re-enact the first Thanksgiving is beyond me. The question we keep asking throughout the film is whether these pilgrims are some crazy religious cult or demonic souls returned from the netherworld. This is definitely my idea of Thanksgiving hell.
Unlike most Halloween fans, I do not get immediately sad after Halloween because there’s still so much spookiness going on to carry us through Thanksgiving, through the holidays, all the way into next year. What a fabulous time to be a horror fan because there are some incredible apparel, collectibles, products, and amazing box sets of the greatest films in history out there, and, for the next 5 weekends, I’m going to post my gift-giving guides for your favorite Halloween and Horror fans.
The Bela Lugosi Collection at CreepyCo. ($10-70) https://www.creepycompany.com/collections/bela-lugosi Lugosi Enterprises is dedicated to preserving the memory and legacy of the man forever associated as Count Dracula. They’ve been quite savvy, selective, and tenacious about their licensing agreements in recent years and that’s more apparent than ever with their deal at Creepy Co. This holiday, you can find some awesome apparel, including button-up shirts, t-shirts, PJs, socks, enamel pins, and much more.
Custom designed Bedding and Bathwares – There will be Cute at Society 6 ($17-$120) https://society6.com/therewillbecute Artist and illustrator Caley Hicks brings her world-class spooky cute to Society 6 with these Halloween baths and bedding sets. Normally, I’d include Caley’s works in an upcoming Artist gift-giving guide, but I’m in love with the idea of having a Headless Horseman decorated bathroom.
Dead Sled Coffee ($18-$20) https://deadsledcoffee.com/ Why we don’t have coffee bars filled with coffee, horror, and heavy metal music on every corner is beyond me. For the people who don’t care where their coffee comes from, or, at the very least, trust that their favorite musicians and horror icons have lawyers and management that have already scoured Dead Sled’s ethics and ability to produce good-tasting environmentally friendly coffee.
Godzilla Jenga/Godzilla Monopoly ($22-40) https://toywiz.com/godzilla/diecast-microman-miscellaneous-toys-figures/ I don’t talk about Godzilla enough. He is the King of the Monsters after all, which is why I got so excited when I found a Godzilla version of Jenga and Monopoly from USAopoly. Why play Jenga when you can play Godzilla Jenga! Finally, a reason to be excited for family board game night. Just don’t let Grandma play as King Ghidorah.
Elvira Meets Vincent Price Comics (($1.99 and up) https://www.comixology.com/Elvira-Meets-Vincent-Price-1/digital-comic/943748 Dynamite Entertainment brings the Mistress of the Dark together with the Merchant of Menace to save the world from Apocalyptic doom! In a madcap mix of comedy and horror, the Hollywood star spector and horror hostess with the mostess pair go together like peanut butter and jelly. Digital subscriptions start at $1.99, regular comics are $5, but special limited edition variant covers are for collectors only.
Frankenstein Complete Legacy Collection ($26-47) https://www.uphe.com/movies/frankenstein-complete-legacy-collection If for some reason the giant 30 film collection of the Universal Monsters Legacy Collection isn’t your jam, then consider getting The Frankenstein Complete Legacy Collection, which, in my opinion, contains all the best films of the Universal Monsters collection. including Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.
Horror Movie Figure Collectibles from NECA ($39-70) https://necaonline.com/2020/12/12-days-of-downloads-2020-day-9-ultimates-visual-guide/ Start a yearly tradition of giving the gift of a horror movie 7″ scale action figure with accessories, officially licensed, made with high-quality materials, packaged in beautiful boxes. These are not toys, these are collectibles and horror fans should own them all. Well, at least one, your favorite one.
Halloween/Goth Shoes ($45-$120) https://strangecvlt.com/ I’ve heard it said if you’re gonna join a cult, then, join a shoe cult, and there’s no better place to start than Strange Cvlt shoes. From sandals to flats, Mary Janes to platform boots, this is the only socially acceptable fetish a girl can have without getting burned at the stake.
Friday the 13th Blu-ray Collection – Deluxe Edition ($129-159) https://www.amazon.com/Friday-Collection-Blu-ray-Betsy-Palmer/dp/B07GNV288V Bring Jason Vorhees home this holiday! Finally a worthy Blu-ray collection of the most successful, long-running slasher series in film history. All 13 movies, some digitally remastered in 4K and featuring a booklet, behind-the-scenes, commentaries, interviews, and special features in the most incredible packaging I’ve ever seen from Scream Factory.
Season’s Screamings Tickets – December 17-19, Pasadena Convention Center ($30-60-95) https://midsummerscream.org/seasons-screamings/ This one-of-a-kind holiday horror convention promises just as many chills and thrills as its parent-con Midsummer Scream, which was canceled earlier this summer. This is the place to find dark holiday gifts and spooky stocking stuffers. The event includes special ghoulish guests, over 200 exhibitors and vendors, and the Hall of Yuletide Spirits, a “dark showfloor of holiday themed haunts and yard displays, created by Southern Californias most talented haunted house creators.” Did I mention Pasadena is simply lovely this time of year?
Amazing Pre-order Gifts: Every penny is worth the wait!
☆Dying Light II Stay Human – Feb 4, 2022 ($60-80) https://dl2.dyinglightgame.com/ Techland’s sequel to the worldwide phenomenon Dying Light could be the dream of every gamer and zombie fan alike. Trailers and early play-throughs show a creative, technical, and visual feast. The first Dying Light game featured hours of gameplay, multiple DLCs, great customer and technical support, and developed a strong community of fervent players (like me) anxiously awaiting this new gaming adventure.
☆Bela Lugosi as Dracula by Infinite Statue & Sideshow – June 2022 ($300-355) https://www.sideshow.com/collectibles/dracula-bela-lugosi-infinite-statue-909742?var=909743 Sideshow and Infinite Statue teamed up with Kaustic Plastik to give us the Dark Prince himself, Bela Lugosi! This handpainted, incredibly detailed sixth-scale figure features two different sculpted heads, ten poseable hands, fully costumed, accessories, and captures the beauty and essence of the most recognizable horror icon ever created. The Deluxe version features a spooktacular coffin for $355. This is the ultimate tribute to both the character of Count Dracula and the beloved actor who embodied him. A must-have collectible for vampire fans.
Happy first day of summer! While Covid-19 is here to stay, the pandemic is winding down. Things are opening up and wearing masks is optional, but please stay safe and be smart. This summer, nobody has a boo-kini body. We can all breathe a little sigh of relief over the fact that nobody cares if we didn’t get in shape. We’re all just doing the best we can and don’t let anyone make you feel bad, especially yourself. It’s gonna be a hot ghoul summer! Rather than groan about the insufferable heat and humidity, let’s exert our energies in more positive ways until September. Here’s a few good ideas to try and events to go to this summer:
SPOOKTACULAR SUMMERWEEN WEEKEND In what I hope will be the first of many, Spooky Weekend brings together an online shopping event for Halloween lovers, featuring over 100 vendors. This weekend only, Halloween enthusiasts will have access to exclusive sales, discounts, and deals, along with chances to win amazing giveaway items. It’s never too early to start planning Halloween or get the jump on your holiday shopping. The best part, getting the chance to support independent owned businesses and artists across the globe. http://www.spookyweekend.co.uk/
THROW A GOTH POOL PARTY Why should Hollywood celebrities and pop stars have all the fun? Go buy some black pool floats and summer gear from Blackcraft Cult and take your chubby self to the beach, or the lake, or the pool. Now, relax. We deserve it!
SUMMER READING Looking for a nice, safe, entertaining place with air conditioning? Then, head on over to your local library! Libraries are full of ghosts. The ghosts of thousands of books that have been sitting untouched on the shelves for over a year, maybe longer. There might even be some real ghosts, test your side vision. Beside that, you can learn new things, like tarot or costume-making, read spine-tingling tales of horror or mystery, and immerse yourself in fantastical worlds. Libraries are great places to find new passions. As long as you’re quiet and respectful of others, you too can haunt the library all day long.
SUMMER PUMPKINS Watermelons are the second cousins to pumpkins. Whether it’s a fruit or a vegetable, is debatable, nonetheless, you can hollow them out like a gourd and carve a jack-o’-lantern face on the rind all the same. Have fun by using your Halloween cookie cutters to make spooky shapes of delicious, juicy melon. Decorate the outside and practice your carving skills all summer long. By October, you’ll be a pro!
TO COSPLAY OR NOT TO COSPLAY Hot ghoul summer dictates that we be ourselves. There’s no judgement or bullying allowed. Walk or run away from all monsters. Have fun. Do your thing. Wear spandex and a cape. Don platform shoes. Dye your hair blue.
San Diego Comic-Con will be held as online event only this July 23-25, 2021, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still dress up. If anyone says anything rude, just tell ’em you’re trying on your Halloween costume. They can’t fault you for being an excellent planner, right? Go ahead, wear the costume.
SCREAMING ROOM The pandemic dampened the spirits of Midsummer Scream creators for a second summer, but restless souls do not go quietly into the night, thus, the Screaming Room Film Festival 2021 was born. Curated and presented by HorrorBuzz.com, this unique short film festival will feature two years worth of the submissions of the best horror and Halloween shorts, originally planned for Midsummer Scream conventions 2020 and 2021, respectivefully. This spooktacular event will take place the weekend of July 10-11 at the Frida Cinema in Santa Ana, CA.
AWAKEN THE SPIRITS Proving there is indeed no rest for the wicked, the Midsummer Scream creators found themselves a second location to summon all the other spooky spirits into a grand mini celebration and preview of what’s to come this Halloween season 2021.
Awaken the Spirits will held in the Pasadena Convention Center this August 14-15, 2021. It’ll be a smaller venue and missing a few elements from Midsummer Scream, namely the Hall of Shadows and the Black Cat Lounge, but the Halloween vibe will be strong enough to rattle the bones and bring the dead back to life.
I’ve compiled a list of great holiday horror and Halloween books that your favorite Halloween and horror fan will love this Creepmas. I live in Los Angeles area so some of my suggestions reflect my current location, but free feel to check local bookstores in your area. Happy Holidays!
I know 2020 put a damper on our Halloween celebrations this year, which only means we should come back hard in 2021. This book is full of ideas and DIY designs to help get us ready for the perfect party next year!
This LA Times Bestseller, which topped all the 2019 ‘Best Of’ lists, uncovers the mysterious life of former Disney animator, Milicent Patrick, the only woman in history to create a Hollywood classic movie monster.
I absolutely fell in love with this beautiful, bright, fully-color collection of vintage Hollywood movie posters. It’s a great read for film lovers and filled with the history behind some of Hollywood’s best classic horror and sci-fi movies.
I predict once this pandemic is over, travel will come roaring back to life and 2021 will be the perfect time for a paranormal adventure. This awesome read breaks down what to expect when you visit some of America’s most haunted bars, breweries, wineries and more!
Every Sunday until the week of Christmas, I’ll post a gift giving guide for Halloween and horror fans. From cool collectibles to offbeat gifts, check out these awesome gifts I came across, featuring the classic Universal monsters.
Ravensburger Universal Monsters Horrified Board Game – Target/Walmart ($30)
I saved the best for last. If you ever hear a Cyndi Lauper song in a horror film, this is peak 80s in all its surreal neon day-glowiness!
At face value, Night of the Comet is a mindless mash-up of several low-budget B-movie horror Sci-fi gems from the 50-60s, but look closer, and you’ll see Writer-director Thom Eberhardt actually penned a smart, witty satire, in tribute of such fine films. The question asked, what happens when two valley girls are the only two people left after a comet wipes off everyone on the planet? If your first guess was ‘they go mall shopping and then get attacked by zombies’, give yourself a prize!
Two sisters Regina and Samantha played by Catherine-Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney, are more than just gum popping, ripped-denim, leg warmer wearing bimbos full of sass. As if! They’re actually pretty smart, and they manage to fight off armed invaders with Uzis in a sinister turf war, blood-seeking evil scientists with one-foot in the grave, and of course, comet-induced flesh-eating zombies, that always seem to come outta nowhere, all while working through why always-absent daddy married that money-hungry bitch Doris. Level one up for the ladies of the eighties!
It’s true, there’s a lot of “family drama” with our feather-haired heroes, and less zombies than an average Walking Dead episode these days, but there’s still plenty of fun-filled comedy and bursts of non-gory action. That’s right, no gore in this one, which is probably while the movie missed its mark as a really great horror film, but horror fanatics can’t live on blood-splatter alone. We need something to break up the monotony. If your eighties Halloween movie marathon contains Nightmare on Elm Street, any Hellraisers or early Maniacs, or John Carpenter’s The Thing, consider throwing in this campy zombie romp as a breather. You’ll thank me later.
Anyone who follows film, knows the history of 3D is a bit murky. Some people just don’t take to it. During the 80s, 3D made a short-lived comeback with big name franchises such as Friday the 13th Part III, Amityville 3D, and the biggest money-maker of the three, Jaws 3D. All of the films were critically panned and stand out from their predecessors as the campiest of all. I don’t know if you could call them B-movies. Beside the weirdo 3D effects, they were hella expensive and mad glossy, but everything about those stories were heinous. Barf!
This isn’t a best of horror list though, this is a best of 80s horror, and we gotta embrace the fact that for like two hours, 3D was totally gnarly!
Friday the 13th, Part III (1982)
Believe it or not, Friday the 13th was supposed to be a trilogy and this was the movie to end it all. It marked the first time Jason Vorhees appears in his signature hockey goalie mask and for sure that had something to do with the film’s growing popularity, enough to convince studio suits to keep making movies.
As far as 80s connections go, I’ll be honest, the campground setting makes it harder to distinguish the time era, but take one look at those feathered locks and cashmere sweaters, now, you know you’re time traveling.
Amityville 3D (1983)
This movie was sort of an anomaly of the franchise. At the time of filming, a legal dispute between the famed Lutz family and studio producers broke out and the result was the film featured brand new fictional characters and the story didn’t follow either of its predecessors. Also, supposedly, the home owner at the time was totally being a spaz and the studio had to make physical changes to the infamous haunted house.
Sadly, the film was not well-received by fans or critics. The 3D was reportedly bad compared to technology used by other 3D films of the time, and so, it was all just a major bummer. We did get the future America’s sweetheart and Aunt Becky playing with Ouija Boards in jean jackets and feathered hair, conjuring slimy demon creatures from Hell, like, it doesn’t get more 80s than that.
Jaws 3D (1983)
I think Jaws 3D had the toughest sell considering how beloved the first film was to audiences. They did get to keep the fancy disposable cardboard 3D glasses and I pity anyone who didn’t keep those amazing souveniors, cuz they totally still work. Of course, because televisions weren’t equipped with 3D capabilities at the time, thus, the name of Jaws 3D changed to Jaws III once it hit home video and there were no 3D versions until the early 2000s.
Unfortunately, not even the magnificence of Louis Gossett, Jr. and the curiously coked-out Dennis Quaid performance could save Jaws 3D from being anything more than fish food. If you want real scares, stick with the original, Jaws, a magnum opus of horror filmmaking. For frivolous fun, under the sea in 3D shots, a fantastic historical look at Sea World parks before Blackfish backlash killed their business, and great 80s vibes, including water-skiing stunts, this is the movie for you!
I think to truly appreciate the small strides 3D has made over the years, one should watch the even older scary movies, like House of Wax, starring Vincent Price. That was the first feature length 3D film with stereophonic sound. Arguably the most famous 3D movie ever was Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) and its 3D spawn, Revenge of the Creature (1955), was the only 3D sequel of a 3D movie of the time. That was major back then. Other notable 3D horror films are It Came from Outer Space (1953), The Mad Magician (1954), The Tingler (1959), House on Haunted Hill (1959), and 13 Ghosts (1960).
What you do think about 3D movies? Hit me up in comments section or tag me on Instagram or Twitter @HalloweenHaiku9 and let me know your thoughts.