At long last a trailer has been released for the much anticipated Wolfman (2010) starring Benicio del Toro set to hit theaters in Februa...

The Trailer Park: New Wolfman Trailer



At long last a trailer has been released for the much anticipated Wolfman (2010) starring Benicio del Toro set to hit theaters in February of next year. I’ve already given my two cents on the Comic Con trailer that was leaked on the internet in 2008, but this brand spanking new trailer gives a sneak peek at previously unseen scenes from the film.

First off, let me just say that my heart thrilled to the look of the practical effects of the wolfman. I was like a kid in a candy store as I flipped through screen captures of the creature in heavily shadowed woods, and caught a glimpse of a gnarled claw complete with razor sharp nails ready to disembowel its unsuspecting prey.

As a fan of films like Val Lewton’s Cat People, I am a sucker for the subtle use of light and shadow to inspire fear of a largely unseen monster. At the end of the night, it’s what you don’t see that has you trembling under the covers long after you’ve left the dimly lit theater and its on screen nightmares.

So, you can imagine how angry I was that the honeymoon was over when it came to the CGI transformation of Benicio’s character. Lawrence Talbot transforms while strapped to a chair in the middle of a surgical theater before dozens of bewildered scientists. The camera cuts to his rolling eyes as he thrashes about and the audience watches as his fingers break and hands melt to accommodate his new lupine form. Exciting stuff, and yet the only good part of this transformation scene is the end, as the wolfman snarls at his captors in full facial makeup.

As countless movies before The Wolfman (2010) have shown, the transformation from man to wolf is a key component of any good werewolf movie. The act of transformation is terrifying because the werewolf is effeminized by a monthly cycle of transformation—an abject nightmare where the body gives birth to a hideous new form. In transformation scenes from The Howling (1981) and An American Werewolf in London (1981) the camera zooms in as human bodies queer the line between human and beast, subject and abject.

That said, I understand that technology has come a long way since the stop motion transformations of Lon Chaney, but there is still something to be said of practical effects over going completely CGI. The use of CGI in horror films can ruin the experience for viewers by catapulting them out of the movie and dazzling them with high priced effects. This runs counter to the purpose of good special effects, which should be seamlessly integrated into the film.

Careful camera work and a skilled makeup artist can achieve the same thrilling conclusion without sacrificing the audience’s suspension of disbelief. As a result, CGI werewolfery is jarring at best and at worst just plain lazy.

5 comments:

  1. Agreed, CGI cheapens the experience in my mind as well. Good call on the snapshot from Dog Soldiers, my all time favorite werewolf movie.

    Did you know the howl in the trailer is courtesy of Gene Simmons (yes, THAT Gene Simmons)? He's doing the howl voice overs in the film.

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  2. To me "House Of The Wolf Man" looks a far better bet, but probably won't even get a cinematic realise (at least here in the UK). Check out the trailer here: http://apatchworkofflesh.blogspot.com/ if you haven't already seen it.

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  3. MS: It may just desperately wishful thinking, but I'm not ready to condemn this one yet. I think Benicio Del Toro is such a dead-on perfect choice, one that demonstrates a perfect understanding of the character, that I must remain hopeful. Thank God they didn't cast some twenty-something glowering model (ala Dorian Gray), and the fact that they didn’t shows a certain bold integrity.

    yes, CGI can destroy a picture (and, yes, Dogsoldiers is a perfect example of a movie done right), but maybe they will use it in combination with makeup and other techniques? But remember, a trailer often does injustice to the overall effect of a film.

    I so want this project to be good, I am willing to wait for the film. -- Mykal

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  4. Cortez,
    Wow! Such oral talent, howl and tongue-wise.

    Coop,
    Looks great! I love the fact that it has Ron Chaney instead of Lon Chaney Jr.

    Mykal,
    I agree with you and I'll probably just look away when they roll the transformation sequences so as not to sully what I'm sure will be a great performance by Mr. del Toro.

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  5. Jeanette,

    I completely agree with you on practical vs. CGI werewolves! I am looking forward to seeing this film...I just hope I'm not dissapointed.

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