Book Review: The Werewolf Filmography

werewolf filmographyThe Werewolf Filmography
By Bryan Senn
Published by McFarland, 2017. 408 pages.

Why a book like this has never been written before is beyond me. Yeah, there was the The Illustrated Werewolf Movie Guide by Stephen Jones, but that just quickly goes through titles with very little written about them, as well as it covering movies having ANY connection to werewolves or changing into a creature listed. A nice book to chew on, so to speak, but not one to go to for any real meat. But it can also be said that maybe the reason a book like this hasn’t been written before was, as author Senn puts it in his introduction, since the werewolf sub-genre is so huge, there are many, many titles that are far from good. So since the bad definitely outweigh the good, it would be a very tough hill to climb to watch and write about all of them. But Senn has taken on that task, and has done an admirably job!

The intro is filled with very detailed research about the history of lycanthropy, the how’s the why’s, and the where’s. I found it very informative and entertaining and a great introduction to what was going to follow. The book is laid out into three categories: The Films, Pseudowolves, & Other Were-Beasts. The second section deals with movies that have werewolves in them, but are not the main point of the movie, such as in the anthology film Trick ‘r Treat (2007), while the last section includes everything from The Bat People to Night of the Bloody Apes, wherever there is a monstrous transformation. The first section is the one that goes into the most details about each of the titles, with plenty of quotes from the people involved, to behind the scenes info, storylines, etc. We get the standard info, like cast and crew, year,  the kind of werewolf in the film, how they are killed, and a “Full Moon Rating” from 1 to 5 moons. In the other two sections, the info is just the year, production company and director. The synopsis are much shorter too, but is understandable.

Of course, when Senn states that “Spaniard Paul Naschy’s Waldemar Daninsky stands as the most prolific – and important – werewolf figure in cinema history”, how could I not like this book??? Seriously! But even though Senn is an obvious Naschy fan (just check out multiple page write-up on Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror!), he doesn’t pull punches on some of Naschy’s lesser quality pictures, like Fury of the Wolfman, giving it a fair critical treatment. In fact, he gives all the films covered here a same reasonable treatment, no matter how bad they might be. Granted, he doesn’t make excuses for them, but at least gives them their proper coverage.

naschywerewolf

You can tell the amount of research that Senn has done here, with a lot of quotes from the people involved in the films, some defending the title, while others not so much. One of the best quotes that I liked was about Van Helsing (2004), which I admit is a guilty pleasure of mine but wouldn’t dare defend it. But Vic Armstrong, legendary stuntman and second unit director said this about CGI: “A good analogy for CGI would be morphine. Morphine is an incredible drug if you use it for what it was intended for, but used sparingly in the right moments. But when it’s used too much, you get addicted and it’s a killer.” Really wish more filmmakers in Hollywood understood that.

Van Helsing Werewolf

Senn’s opinions are there in the writing and some will have you scratching your head, such as saying that Hammer’s Curse of the Werewolf (1961) has a “general air of overstuffed dullness”. Now while some fans might not agree with that, like me, he at least backs up his thoughts enough for you to understand his opinion. We’re not all going to agree on every film, but when you can explain why, you can’t argue with an opinion. Or at least, you shouldn’t.

curse of the werewolf

Granted, the real ‘curse’ of this book is that after reading about some of these titles, even the lesser rated ones, it does make you want to seek out a copy to watch, just to see for yourself. I’ve already added several titles to my Need-to-Find list. Thanks Bryan…because I had just run out of movies to watch!

The retail price on this book is $55 which is a bit high, though you probably can find it a bit cheaper in other places. But it is a beautiful looking, good size hardcover book. And if you’re a werewolf fan, a Naschy fan, or a crazy horror movie reference book collector like myself, then you need to add this to your library. I know it is one that I will be going to for reference anytime I start to tackle a subject from the lycanthropic family. It is well researched, well written, and very, very informative. And for a reference book, that is the best you can ask for. You can order this book directly from McFarland by either their website www.mcfarlandpub.com or calling them at 800-253-2187.

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