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Darkwolf

Review by: 
Head Cheeze
Release Date: 
2003
Studio: 
Fox
Genre: 
Werewolf
Format: 
DVD
Region: 
1 NTSC
Aspect Ratio: 
1.78:1
Directed by: 
Richard Friedman
Cast: 
Samaire Armstrong
Kane Hodder
Ryan Alosio
Movie: 
0
Extras: 
2
Bottom Line: 
0

 Darkwolf is, perhaps, one of the worst werewolf films I've ever seen. It's got dialogue that sounds as though it were scrawled by former soap opera writers in the throes of dementia, the production values of a cinemax spankfest, and performances straight out of a cable access high school talent show. When Kane Hodder is the best actor in your movie, you know you are hopelessly and truly fucked. However, Darkwolf does have one redeeming quality, and that is the presence of Samaire Armstrong, an actress so irresistably cute I'd watch her do just about anything for an hour and a half, and damnit, I'd pay good money to do so. Sadly she has to share the limelight with a motley crew of z-grade actors and special effects of the short yellow bus variety.
 
Darkwolf opens with a pair of feds (Alosio and Steven Williams, in a cameo) and an L.A. detective (Bogart) chasing down a huge biker (Hodder) in a strip club. The biker's eyes turn all red with lycanthro-rage (even though Hodder's face remains as emotionless as a department store mannequin) and as they toss him into the back of a paddywagon, he transforms into the Darkwolf! The Darkwolf shreds Williams (who was smart enough to cut out early, something most viewers will do as well) and escapes. You see, it's mating season, and the Darkwolf, who is some sort of pure super-lycanthrope who spreads the werewolf seed, needs to seek out another pureblood to impregnate. This leads him to the aformentioned Armstrong who plays a super sweet waitress whose metamorphosis into a she-wolf begins as the Darkwolf closes in. Armstrong has an ace up her sleeve, however, in the guise of some sort of werewolf watcher (Tippi Hedren, who has no business sullying her image in this film) who poses as a homeless woman that eats back alley scraps in order to stay close to Armstrong. She hangs around long enough to explain the whole Darkwolf/Pureblood plot device to Alosio and Bogart, as well as the importance of protecting Armstrong, before the hormonally imbalanced Darkwolf introduces her to a can full o' whoop-ass. In, perhaps, the film's most incredulous scene, a camera crew covers her demise and Alosio and Bogart are watching it on television. As the reporter continues to describe the incident, the camera pans over and zooms in on Hodder, who is staring directly at the camera. Alosio barks excitedly at the television set as Hodder's eyes glow red on cue. It's absolutely astonishing how stupid this scene is, and the film's downward spiral goes into full effect from this point on.
 
Frankly I was floored by the sheer sucktitude of this flick. I'd read bits and pieces about it in the trades and genre publications, and it was being pretty well hyped as the next big werewolf cult flick, but the only kind of cult following I can see this insipid pile of dreck attracting is one of the Jonestown variety, in which followers use this film as an example of how shitty life is and then down a tankard of cyanide cocktails. It's got the production values of a Skinemax late night porn flick, and, with the exception of Williams, Hedren, and the charsimatic Armstrong, a cast of some of the worst actors this side of public access television. Seriously, did someone mention to Kane Hodder that he would not be wearing a mask in this film? His Darkwolf human persona comes off about as threatening as an autistic football player, and he seems to just be playing Jason in biker gear. His slow and deliberate head movements look great under a goalie helmet, but here he looks like a car accident victim wandering the highway in shock looking for his spleen. I know he's a horror "legend", but this may be a good time to change the prerequisites for such a title. Meanwhile, Alosio and Bogart both deliver their lines as though they'd just graduated from the William Shatner School of Over-Emoting. Of course, this isn't helped by the fact that the script reads like something penned in an eight grade creative writing course.
 
So, since Darkwolf is an absolute failure in the most fundamental elements of film, one would think they'd make up for it with great special effects, brilliant death scenes, and plenty of boob shots, right?
 
Wrong.
 
The boob shots are rather plentiful (the first 5 minutes of the film in the strip bar are, perhaps, the most redeeming of the entire movie), and their's a rooftop faux-lesbian sex scene thrown in towards the third act when it becomes increasingly apparent that even the filmmakers have simply stopped trying, but, skin aside, there's not a single stand-out visual moment. The Darkwolf looks like a cross between a Chinese parade float and a bear skin rug, while the facial appliances Armstrong wears in her transformations are the sort you see in the Halloween costume aisle at Wal Mart. There's a decent amount of gore, but it comes after long and calculated stalking scenes (shot from the Darkwolf's point of view, which is seemingly achieved by simply aiming the camera at the ground and wiggling it around as though the creature were one of those bobble head Dale Earnhardt dolls) that are as clumsily executed as virtually everything else in Darkwolf.
 
The DVD from Fox features an anamorphic widescreen transfer that's fairly competent, but does have it's share of digital noise, especially in darker scenes. However, I think most viewers will be to appalled by the actual film to notice it's technical shortcomings. The 5.1 Dolby track is servicable, but loud and atmospheric crap is still crap. Fox also throws in a making-of documentary, a short blooper reel, and the usual smattering of trailers, notes, etc.
 
If you like your horror movies stupid, uninventive, badly acted, and dull as a box of hammers, Darkwolf will please you to no end. 

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