Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hungry Like the Wolf

Lobos de Arga (2011, directed by Juan Martinez Moreno) has been burdened with a couple of international titles. I prefer "Game of Werewolves," myself, but the version I saw was stuck with the boring "Attack of the Werewolves." Either way, it's a fun little horror comedy that doesn't forget to paint the walls red.

The story follows Tomás Mariño, a fledgling writer, back to his home town and ancestral home. He plans the trip as a writing retreat, a way of getting back to his roots, so to speak. He's welcomed back by his childhood best friend, and by an uncle who does dual duty as the town's mayor and priest. Also following him to the town is his agent, with whom he has had a falling out. Something in the town is amiss, though. The locals give him the hairy eyeball as he's out and about, while he finds himself chasing his dog to a mysterious barn where legend has it, a mysterious beast resides. The beast, it turns out, is intimately linked to Tomás's family, which bears the brunt of a horrible curse. The locals see Tomás as a way of breaking the curse, by sacrificing him to the beast on the 100th anniversary of the monster's creation. Things don't go as planned, and the curse's second phase kicks into gear, turning the entire town, except for Tomás and his two friends, into a howling mob of werewolves.

I have to admit that the design of the werewolves in this movie makes me smile. These are like a modernized version of Paul Naschy's werewolves, and that warms my heart. I like the way that this film extrapolates from its premise, too, given that it follows a certain amount of logic that would be antithetical to a Naschy film. That it plays everything for laughs is immaterial to this. I think Naschy would have loved this film. I wouldn't be surprised if an audience of contemporary horror fans disliked the werewolves here, though, because they're obviously stuntmen in werewolf suits and there are no fancy transformation effects, but there's enough gore--mostly slapstick gore, but still--to keep the groundlings interested.

I like, too, how this film turns the tables on the monster hunting angry villagers, by turning them into the actual monsters. This is an obvious inversion of usual narrative tropes that provides a nice satiric kick to the film. The movie plays a bit with the archetype of the menacing yokels in the run down old town schtick, too. It knows its horror archetypes.

I'm a little disappointed that this film is such a sausage fest, though. There's only one female character of any note here, and she functions as a kind of deus ex machina to save our trio of protagonists from a situation from which they probably couldn't legitimately extricate themselves. I find this lazy. I wish the filmmakers had dramatized the back story that they've concocted, not just because it would add another woman to the cast (and a villain at that), but because the comics panel sequence seems too targeted at a fan audience. Plus, these scenes would provide the movie with some erotic kicks that it currently lacks. This is a minor complaint, though.

In general, this is funny. The solution that our hero's friends devise for breaking the curse is hilariously misguided (and the way it initially goes wrong is timed perfectly). The by-play between the two cops who arrive late on the scene is funnier than the relationships between the protagonists even though this provides the film with it's one real "WTF?" moment. And the movie ends on an inevitable punch line.

All told, this is harmless fun. It's Halloween candy. You can't eat a steady diet, but it's tasty near the end of October.

Current tally: 22 films.
16 first time viewings.

From Around the Web

Dr. AC at Horror 101 has raised the better part of a thousand bucks for his charity watching movies like Spasmo and Mansion of the Doomed. Brave man.

Rev. Anna Dynamite takes on some cometary remnants of Frankenstein over at Dreams in the Bitch House, before tackling the main event in James Whale's film and another modern Prometheus.


Tylerandjack said...

I think I have already bored people enough with my love for this one since I saw it at Dead By Dawn earlier this year. You make a good point about the lack of female characters but I didn't notice at the time because it was all so much fun so, in a way, it was also good to see something moving along without any erotic moments or awkward romantic character developments feeling shoehorned in there.

The Vicar of VHS said...

OK, I'll definitely be checking this one out. The werewolves look great, and as you're aware, Naschy was not without his own brand of wicked humor. :) Sounds fun!

Vulnavia Morbius said...

I thought you might enjoy this one, Vicar.