Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Howl at the Moon and at Silly Jokes with Attack of the Werewolves: A Movie Review

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Director/writer: Juan Martínez Moreno.

Cast: Carlos Areces, Secun de la Rosa, Mabel Rivera, Luis Zahera, Gorka Otxoa, Manuel Manquiña and Tomás Cimadevilla.

Attack of the Werewolves knows many forms. This film has also been called Game of Werewolves and Lobos de Arga. If one directly translates the Spanish title into English, then it becomes the much simpler Werewolves of Arga. This final title is less than stellar, though. This review will call this picture Attack of the Werewolves, which is the United Kingdom title.

Attack of the Werewolves is a Spanish language film and an entertaining one at that. This title blends horror elements with comedy. So, the tone of the film is light-hearted. The town of Arga has been cursed and it is up to Tomás (Gorka Otxoa) to remove this affliction. The townsfolk need his blood and his sacrifice in order to remove the curse. The creatures are thankfully costumed rather than CGIed. This werewolf thus pays homage to classics in the genre and it does this in an entertaining way.

Tomás Mariño has returned to his childhood roots. He is there to write a novel. Soon, he is accosted by his friends: Mario (Secun de la Rosa) and Calisto (Carlos Areces). An even greater threat, the townsfolk welcome him with open arms initially, but they soon turn on Tomás. Tomás' uncle is happy to string him up and feed him to a werewolf, which lives in an abandoned crypt. The protagonist survives. However, he now has a bone to pick with the villagers.

There are two curses at play here. The first curse was created by a local noble. This Baroness slept with a gypsy, who was a lycanthrope. The Baroness's child was thus a werewolf too. The villagers need Tomás' blood (the blood of a Mariño, related to the Baroness) in order to defeat this beast. Yet, the townsfolk are lax and a second curse comes into play. This second curse states that: if the first curse has not been removed within 100 years, then the whole town will be turned into werewolves. Can you see where this is going? Soon, Tomás, Mario and Calisto must battle an entire town of these creatures! A stupefied police officer also lends a hand along with Tomás' aging grandmother. The mayhem then begins!

Director Juan Martínez Moreno utilizes a lot of comedy in his third picture. Tomás, at one point, has to donate his finger in order to remove curse number one. The dog eats this first digit, so Tomás has to donate a second finger. His friends seem insensitive to his lost and they even make fun of their friend, which creates for some laughter. As well, one of the friends has an unusual fondness for sheep - wink, wink. Calisto has a whole house full of sheep memorabilia and watchers might start to see that Calisto's fascination with this bleeping animal involves both passion and lust - yikes! This film brings a lot of good lines and comedic set-ups and the two scenes mentioned here create for some of the bigger laughs.

Attack of the Werewolves also brings elements of the horror genre to its story. Werewolves have been around in film since time immemorial. These beasts are numerous in this title and the characters are few. So, there are a few thrills to be had, if viewers can empathize with the endangered central characters. The mood of the film is also dark. Moreno uses a lot of night shooting to give advantage to the hairy beasts in this title. This dark tone of suspense is amplified in crypts, tunnels and in looming structures such as churches. As well, curses often play a role in horror. And, the curses in this picture are central to the film's story and conflict. Unfortunately, the comedy in this piece does not blend well with the horror. So, true horrorites might be disappointed by the lightness in this film.

This title is still an enjoyable time, though. It is curious to watch Tomás in so many surreal situations. Yet, the characters in this title are overdone. They appear larger than life and this quality turns some into hilarious buffoons. Overall, this is a film that focuses on comedy; the darker moments are enlivened with well written and snarky dialogue.

Attack of the Werewolves is a fun film, especially if you like a blend of both comedy and horror. This title has been released in the United Kingdom and other territories, but there are no plans to distribute Attack of the Werewolves in North America. Fans of horror or comedy will find a lot to laugh at in this showing, if they can find a copy. Darker tones are substituted for lighter ones, but Attack of the Werewolves is consistently a good time.

Overall: 7.5 out of 10.

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