Friday, August 14, 2015

The Werewolf of Washington - 1973

The Werewolf of Washington is a comedy horror film.  It took me a while to catch on to this, and then I debated it in my head for a little while, but it definitely is.  I mean it's right there in the title.  A werewolf?  In Washington?  Oh yes, let the antics begin!  It's not laugh out loud funny, or wasn't to me anyway, but it is pretty smart and pretty entertaining.

When reporter Jack is bit by a werewolf while on assignment, he meets up with a gypsy woman who tells him he bears the curse now. He gets a star scar on his body, and starts seeing pentagrams everywhere.  He also turns into a werewolf come the next full moon and kills a dude.  He doesn't have the strictest memories of his wolf antics (they never do) but is aware something is wrong and of course he remembers the gypsy and what she said about the curse.

Jack does all he can to try and convince others about this, and naturally no one believed him.  He is constantly pestered by the president, by his girlfriend, by other duties, who want him to be around and be there for important meetings and such, which interferes with his werewolf schedule.  It's a great setup for the movie, and it honestly was done very well.

The movie fits perfectly into that bizarre genre of slightly off kilter comedies.  It is light on the makeup and special effect, it wasn't trying to be like a legit werewolf film.  In fact the werewolf scenes are usually played for laughs.  He turns into a werewolf while on the phone in one, he then scurries around his apartment, knocking over a lamp and getting distracted by it, etc.  The actor, Dean Stockwell, was surprisingly energetic and enthusiastic about playing a werewolf it seems, and it's really fun to watch.

The comedy as I said is not in your face.  It's subtle, and usually pretty smart.  There is one scene though where Jack takes off his shirt in a men's room to show someone else the pentagram mark on his body, and someone calls them "faggots", that made me laugh.

This is the first and possibly only movie where I am going to say, "this movie could be / should be remade".  Not like, this one specifically, but this idea.  People are really into making fun of politics now, and if we got another idiot Republican like Bush in the White House, this movie being remade (keep it subtle, keep the horror element, and don't go crazy shoving your opinions around) would do very well I think.  The reason this is good is because Jack is just such a thorough good guy, he's really likable, and he only wants the best.  It's also not too heavy on actual political riffing, it's more like making fun of the general flow of politics, how ridiculous the people are, how old and unintelligent the president is, etc.

I really liked this movie, despite not knowing it was a comedy.  That made it better for me really.  I was thinking the whole time, "this is kinda funny for like a sub-par werewolf film".  I think it's best to approach this as a werewolf film, and consider the comedy as extra.  The only thing that bothered me was a loose plotline brought up in the last 20 minutes that never was followed up (watch for the midget).
I feel pretty good about the movie, I think it gets 4 stars.

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