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Case Number 02912: Small Claims Court

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DarkWolf

Fox // 2002 // 94 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // May 23rd, 2003

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All Rise...

The Charge

Half man. Half beast. Pure evil.

The Case

When random werewolf attacks plague Vague Metropolis, USA (supposedly Los Angeles), the city calls in its elite lycanthrope squad, complete with sterling Uzis and unlimited rounds of silver bullets, to bring the shapeshifting bad guys to justice. But when a new, super badass hybrid hound comes calling for some population puppy chow, the paranormal police are at a loss for what to do. So they confer with some homeless lady who gives them a rejected first edition of the Necronomicon (complete with its hand etched horror porn pics) and warns them about DarkWolf. This sexed-up superman style skin walker wants nothing more than to pollute the gene pool of the pure breed, Westminster Kennel Club/AKC certified Lon Chaneys by getting it on with the chosen bitch of the baying brethren, who happens to be some waitress named Josie. Not that Josie understands her regal canine heritage. She is convinced her excessive body hair and tendency toward distorted facial features is all related to genital warts. As the corpses start to pile up and the budget limitations begin to show through, the head wolf warden must protect our pre-fur pussycat from a boot knocking night with that ornery, horny DarkWolf. Not only is the fate of the world in his hands, he just may want a little lupine lovin' for himself.

What's the cheesiest thing you can think of? Kraft Dinner? Two slices of limburger with a slathering of Roquefort? A zesty nacho shower? Your little brother's high top Reeboks? Well cast all those fragrant fromage factions aside because after one viewing of DarkWolf, you will truly understand what it is like to be in the presence of the most extreme, outright and down low jackest Monterey ever to temp a tostada. So chock full of cheddar it's practically Prince Charles, this sharp slice of outrageous havarti hokum wants to reinvent the wooly werewolf the way Anne Rice and her penchant for homoeroticism deconstructed the vampire and his desire to suck. But the interesting "twist" that DarkWolf creates in its creature feature is the notion of supernatural racism. That's right, in this rancid, runny camembert of a movie the cosmic issue that has everyone's shad monk in a shiver is the desire on the part of the original canine klatch of maintaining the integrity of their "pure" werewolf gene pool. This slimy prejudiced agenda is interwoven into and between bark at the moon Killers, a Kinky photographer, and gallons of Karo syrup. Still, It's not only the mystical bigotry that makes DarkWolf so boldly brazen in its Danish blue badness. From performances that seem captured via hidden camera during a first read through, to CGI effects lovingly rendered by a Commodore 64, this is one mesmerizing mess of a monster movie. Moving beyond "so bad…" to an entirely new genre, call it "so atrocious it's addictive" you will find yourself doubled over in guilty pleasure glee the minute any attempt at moviemaking is made. From seeing Kane "Jason Voorhees" Hodder in the nude (no full frontal, sorry) to the Muppet with mumps physical effects, DarkWolf is so funky fun and yet completely devoid of competent cinematic skill that it becomes a warm ring of brie on a cold, November evening.

Wisely, DarkWolf resorts to the classic, pre-MPAA Nazi notions of what makes horror work. No, it doesn't go for a tightly focused script. Nor does it use atmospheric locations to provide a sense of dread and evil. No, this is one modern horror show that understands the hooter heritage from whence it was hatched. Dozens of drive-ins ago, a fright flick would never be caught carnal without peppering its paltry production values with untold amounts of gratuitous sex and violence. But thanks to Jack Valenti's unctuous prostate, more and more recent thrill shows have had to axe the ass and artery action out to keep themselves in cine-complexity. So in a thrilling financial homage to the titles of yesteryear (and the painful realization that there is not another reason for anyone to want to watch this garbage), DarkWolf piles on pallets of nudity and gore in all its teen and pre-teen re-renting and rewinding goodness. Any movie that begins its narrative in a seedy strip club is promising. Then add a 20-minute Evil Dead techno lesbian lambada photo-shoot during the middle act of the film and you've got something that even Homer Simpson would agree is filled with "groin-grabbing" goodness. And when it's not taking an opportunity to show you what's happening under the clothing of its cast, DarkWolf gleefully explores what's up under the epidermis. Blood flies, organs levitate, huge chunks of human are sliced and slivered, and then the gaping, post-animal autopsy bodies are left rotting in the scene so that the camera can lovingly capture every corpuscle of the carnage. Yes, the acting is ham fisted and the direction non-existent, but moment for moment, you will be hard pressed to find another modern horror film that pays off (in a good way) in the cleavage and claret category. DarkWolf may make other lupine losers look like Les Paul, but at least it's got its exploitative extremes in the right, randy place.

20th Century Fox does a halfway decent job with this disc, starting with a nice anamorphic widescreen image. The 1.78:1 is a tad dark, rendering some of the night scenes indistinct, but overall, the color is deep and rich and the print looks crisp and clean. On the sound side we are given a fairly immersive Dolby Digital 5.1 track that offers some menacing ambient elements during the "stalking" scenes, hoping to provide the shred of dread the rest of the film misses by the length of the Iditarod. We then get a couple of decent extras, bonus materials that highlight the making of this mixed-up movie and showcase the business called show for all its phony farce. First is a Behind the Scenes featurette that functions like ten or eleven nebulous questions about the premise and production of DarkWolf. This unintentionally hilarious bit of hard sell contains such choice moments as Kane Hodder discussing his approach to "dialogue" on screen, the screenwriter's admission to being "shocked" that his script was optioned for production, and the technical team touting the use of "first class" computer technology to handle the "startling transformation sequences." Equally fun is the mistake filled "gag" reel, offering a chance to see just how outrageously wacky it is when cheap foam effects fail to work and untalented members of Actors Equity flub their lines. Add a few trailers for other Fox horror films and you've got an honest attempt at making something consumable out of what is basically a bunch of mistakes laden with mold. But that's what makes DarkWolf so damn enjoyable. Like a succulent gorgonzola sauce on your chicken and smoked mushroom tortellini, the cheesy goodness of this movie satisfies like nothing else.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 82

Perp Profile

Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Subtitles:
• English
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Rated R
Genre:
• Horror

Distinguishing Marks

• Blooper Reel
• Making of Dark Wolf Featurette
• Trailers

Accomplices

• IMDb








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