‘They say war changes you… they have no idea.’
War Wolves is a 2009 American action horror feature film that stars Michael Worth, who also serves as the film’s writer and director, plus genre favourites John Saxon (Blood Beach, A Nightmare on Elm Street) and Adrianne Barbeau (The Fog, Creepshow).
A skirmish is taking place in the Middle East, the American soldiers attacked from all angles by an unseen enemy. Some brief glimpses tell us enough to gather they are hybrids of some kind and the action flips forward to a post-duty America and the soldiers adapting to their changed lives.
Among them is Jake Gabriel (Worth), who has adopted the forehead-slappingly obvious alias, ‘Lawrence Talbot’ (Larry Talbot being Lon Chaney Jr’s character in 1941’s The Wolfman) and has taken a job in the local supermarket.
Doing whatever he can to resist changing into his lupine self, he is taken under the wing of a counsellor, Gail (Barbeau), who treats him for supposed post-traumatic stress, as well as gabbling on about Bigfoot and Yetis – elsewhere, some impressively upholstered female Werepersons and some scowling Manwolves are keen to reintegrate him into the pack.
A third collective comprises of Tony Ford (Saxon) and Frank Bergman (Tim Thomerson, Trancers, Near Dark), bickering best friends and on the hunt for the renegade wolves.
Welcome then to a werewolf movie that never shows you a werewolf. Not once. Many a film has hinted and teased with their monsters but when successful, this can be incredibly powerful – not so here. It merely highlights the lack of budget (a great deal of the $500,00 budget must have been to lure in the likes of Saxon and Barbeau, not to mention Martin Kove (the deputy from Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left) and Art LaFleur (again from Trancers) – certainly it didn’t go on the script (also by Worth, who should at this stage be under house arrest) which is truly jaw-dropping.
There are moments when Saxon is ruminating on the twists and turns of his life when you wish your ears would heal over. As such, it’s difficult to judge the acting, it would be impossible to make any kind of a purse out of such a farm animal’s ear, in fact, no-one absolutely disgraces themselves, again, a terrible sign that the problem is fundamental rather than cosmetic, as it were.
Beyond some wet-nosed make-up, some Christmas cracker fangs and an attempt at some ears, there is nothing to hint that this is a horror film. The plot as it is is acceptable, given that it isn’t a million miles away from the immeasurably superior Dog Soldiers and the desert locale offers numerous (inevitably mostly unexplored) opportunities.
Saxon literally limps his way through the film, it’s unclear whether this is delayed Enter the Dragon-knee-related or simply old age, but it adds to the anguish at seeing such a reliable performer given such toothless material. Barbeau is given little to do with her superfluous character during the early scenes which suggest the film is meant to be an allegory for the struggles of post-war soldiers but abandons this in favour of some painfully hobbled shoot-outs and some clothes-on, glamorous romancing with not-a-hair-out-of-place model-types.
To conclude we are blessed with some grim Matrix-style floaty fight sequences and an ending that couldn’t make the experience any less worthwhile.
Daz Lawrence, MOVIES and MANIA
Buy DVD: Amazon.co.uk
Cast and characters:
- Michael Worth as Jake Gabriel
- Natasha Alam as Erika Moore
- John Saxon as Tony Ford
- Tim Thomerson as Frank Bergman
- Adrienne Barbeau as Gail
- Kristi Clainos as Justine
- Siri Baruc as Casey
- Daniel Southworth as Clay
- Art LaFleur as Leo
- Zosia Mamet as Rudy
- Alex Ballar as Andrew Jensen
- Martin Kove as Malick
- Lois Stewart as Donna
- Margot Farley as Christine
- John Edward Lee as Tommy
War Wolves originally aired on the Syfy network on March 8, 2009.