Watching a marathon of indie werewolf films over Halloween weekend, I realized pretty quickly that this might be one of the most challenging subgenres to take on with a limited budget. Just the fact that the directors of all of these films went for it impresses me.
Looking past financial restraints, the one thing I’d say could make these films tighter would be if—guess what I’m about to say—they were all shorter. In fact, I think what would have worked best is if most of these were actually short films in one single horror anthology! Let’s break them down.
WOLF HOUSE (2016)
This one was high on my list of werewolf films to see because it is co-directed by one of its stars, Ken Cosentino. Ken directed the zombie flick Dead Inside, which features what I think is one of the all-time best gay protagonists in a horror film so far.
So not surprisingly, Wolf House actually did work for me as a full-length…especially since it’s only 70 minutes long (yet I’d still shave off 15 minutes).
Appealing because it’s not your average werewolf movie, this is also a found footage film that, true to form, is visually frenetic. However, it reaches such a great level of WTFery by the end that I kind of adore the horror insanity of it all.
A group of friends heads to a cabin in the woods, but first, one of the opening scenes offers a mesmerizing clip of the camera just sitting aimed at one guy’s crotch while he’s talking. Found footage, indeed…
This is not your usual group of 21st century horror assholes. They’re a charming, likable bunch. And this dude’s hairstyle is perfection…
The real fun begins when they find some dead animals around the place.
Before long they think they’re dealing with a Bigfoot situation.
HOLY SHIT when the first dude gets taken by the monster. Fucking AWESOME. That’s when things just get wild.
Hell, I don’t even know if we’re dealing with a werewolf, a pack of them, or something even more hellish, but by the end of the film, the place is crawling with freaks!
As with most found footage films, things get dizzying, but for a change there’s actually some horrific shit all up in the camera.
SHEEP SKIN (2013)
A good cast, cute guys, male nudity and a gritty setting aren’t enough to keep this movie going for 80 minutes.
A small punk band kidnaps a white-collar dude and takes him to a warehouse because they believe he is a werewolf.
They try a combination of looking for signs that he’s indeed a werewolf (the strip search is a highlight) and trying to get him to confess to being one through physical assaults.
The interesting premise just isn’t sustainable to carry a majority of the film. A few wrenches are thrown in their plan along the way, but not enough to keep the momentum going.
It isn’t until the very end that a werewolf finally chases the group around the warehouse. It’s a cool monster (reminded me of Big Bad Wolf), but this moment in the film should have been at least 2/3rds of the running time. Instead, all the excitement is crammed into about 10 minutes.
PREDATORY MOON (2017)
Very clearly an indie film in terms of production, Predatory Moon is nonetheless kind of fascinating in its bizarreness. It reminds me of Stephen King’s Cycle Of The Werewolf in a way because it’s about killings in a small town that have the locals living in terror—while one animal expert is sure it’s the work of a werewolf.
In this case, the expert focuses his attention on the town mess, who was on a hunting trip with his nephew when the boy was killed. To keep the werewolf from continuing its attacks, he tries to get close to the mess, which leads to a totally homophobic reaction.
The catch is, everyone seems to be going a little batty around town. Another major player in the insanity is a local policeman/crime scene photographer. This dude is my hero because he gives the werewolf genre what it needs: hairy man balls. He lets his nut sack – and everything that goes with it – just swing in the breeze several times throughout the film.
Make sure to stick around after the end credits roll for the great pendulum between the legs moment. It’s a tag scene that also adds a whole lot more twist to the already cool twist.
The film has some unnecessary filler in the form of lots of nature footage, which is one reason it could have worked better if it weren’t a 90-minute feature. Since it plays out mostly like a mystery, we don’t get any major werewolf action until the end. And with that comes more male nudity. Wahoo!
Shortcomings of the werewolf costume are masked in darkness, so it does give this one a bit of a 1970s vibe, and it definitely threw in some curveballs along with the hairy balls, so I’m a fan of what the director/writer was going for here.
BUBBA THE REDNECK WEREWOLF (2014)
I’ll make this one real fast. The title of this one, which is based on a comic book, should tell you all you need to know. A redneck in a small town accidentally makes a deal with the devil and becomes a werewolf as a result.
Bubba is pretty much Michael J. Fox’s Teen Wolf if he didn’t graduate high school—and fucked a farm animal on occasion. Bubba’s goal in the film is to vanquish the devil and save the town from evil.
Feeling more like a webseries that goes on longer than it needs to, the movie is cute in its own way and has some good old toilet humor, but the real highlight for me was the guy who plays the devil. He dazzles on screen and gets the funniest lines.
Silverhide takes on an epic military conspiracy plot within the confines of an indie feature. As a result, it relies heavily on dialogue between minimal characters in a single location to tell its story. This is why it shouldn’t run 79 minutes long.
A small band of conspiracy theorists sets up camp on a military base and is soon being killed off one-by-one by a raging beast. The kills are always the same – some claws and a snout seen from over the person’s shoulder before it is ripped open.
There are really no werewolf special effects to speak of here. We never see more than just the wolf’s head—a very inanimate head because it’s simply a model. But personally, I think the dark lighting that gives this a VHS tape feel does an OK job of covering up an inability to really deliver the goods.
The film also has an ominous atmosphere of isolation and some creepy scenes (the first kill tent scene is the best), but ultimately it turns into a film about two people trapped in a bunker talking while the creature that is outside tries to get in. Definitely would have worked better as a short.
DENSE FEAR: BLOODLINE (2012)
Directed by and starring Tony Gardner, this is a self-admitted no budget film…but damn does it give you everything Silverhide doesn’t. There’s no telling what Tony could deliver if he did have money. It’s also a “sequel” to his first attempt at making a werewolf film – the original only ran 50 minutes long and focused on him dealing with his curse and attacking campers in the woods.
The first half of this film (about 40 minutes) is predominantly focused on the law enforcement and military steps taken to find the werewolf after a brutal murder—to which I naturally say at least 20 minutes of it should have been cut.
Because once the military guys are out in the woods at night hunting down the creature, it is werewolf heaven!
Full practical effects, a good score, plenty of blood and body parts, a grainy atmosphere, shadowy lighting and mist, and a costumed creature right out of the 80s. and it’s delivered with an impressive sense of horror direction that builds tension, delivers some scares, and doesn’t skimp on the violent werewolf attacks.
Topping it all off…Tony Gardner is the sexiest fucking werewolf since David Naughton.
BEAST: A MONSTER AMONG MEN (2013)
Beast: A Monster Among Men manages to feel like a found footage film even though it isn’t.
It’s a plus that it’s a 72-minute film, but even at that length, it’s mostly an entire film about a group of friends walking around the woods looking for their missing friends while suspecting that one of them is a killer.
The focus is on how the lead guy hates a brooding dude in a hoodie who is along for the trip.
Eventually, it all comes down to what exactly the issue is between the two of them.
The ending has a very found footage final segment feel…you’re left with the cheap thrill and the usual “that’s the end?” aftershock.
Frustrating to sit through over an hour of film to get to the point, but it’s still more payoff than The Blair Witch Project.
Finally, it’s important to mention that although beefy cutie Blake Farris keeps the clothes on in this film, he shows off the T&A in the director’s horror short “Manscaping.”