ZERO STARS/**** Image B Sound B- Extras C
starring Samaire Armstrong, Ryan Alosio, Andrea Bogart, Jaime Bergman
screenplay by Geoffrey Alan Holliday
directed by Richard Friedman
by Walter Chaw Something to do with hybrid werewolves and full-breed werewolves and how one hybrid biker werewolf is interested in mating with the last full-bred matriarch bitch in order to preserve the line of the pure-blood werewolves, the direct-to-video DarkWolf at least has the decency to open in a strip club and continue into a fairly decent gore set-piece before launching into its incomprehensible lore. Tied to the creatures of the id-horror subgenre (the best example of which is probably Neil Jordan's psychosexual A Company of Wolves), a recent glut of lycanthropic fare (Ginger Snaps, Dog Soldiers) holds a curious candle to the idea that, despite Arab belief to the contrary, Western civilization seems to be regressing into a puritanical sexual hysteria that proves fertile ground for horror films about the cycle of sexual repression/aggression. It's possible, also, that guys (and dolls) in fur suits are just cool again.
Cop Steve (Ryan Alosio, right at home in any episode of "Growing Pains") is on the hunt for werewolves when he discovers the unfolding of an evil prophecy and so endeavours to protect comely waitress Josie (Samaire Armstrong) from evil robot from the future--er, werewolf--Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th fans rejoice, I guess). A police station is cleared of police, a roommate is murdered while the other roommate is listening to something through headphones, an inexorable killer is loosed against a pair of doomed lovers, and a lot of other things are stolen from The Terminator (which itself was successfully sued for being a rip-off of a Harlan Ellison tale). There's a lawsuit in here somewhere, too--a flashbulb repulsion should ring a few bells with The Howling fans, come to think of it, but judging by the production values (a CGI transformation late in the film is offensively inept), there's not much blood in this turnip.
The Terminator plot seems mostly an excuse to set up a ridiculous lesbian dry hump and a few cheap thrills now and again. DarkWolf distinguishes itself in the amount of skin in which it indulges--Joe Bob Briggs would burst a vessel, if he hasn't already. Though clearly exploitive, the piles of cheesecake in this thing indirectly point to some kind of (probably latent) understanding that the werewolf genre is, with a few notable exceptions, pretty much all about puberty, sex, and rebellion. Indeed, DarkWolf is sex-obsessed and puerile, its attempts at dialogue impossibly hackneyed and drama club pathetic. Poor Tippi Hedren, making an appearance as the requisite "Mysterious Gypsy Woman," soldiers through, not so much as batting an eye while uttering the classic Biff Tannen-ism: "You're just smart as a dull tack, aren't you?"
Not bad enough to be good, but definitely bad enough to be uproarious, DarkWolf sort of whets the appetite for the upcoming werewolf vs. vampire epic Underworld, and, not surprisingly, for the new Terminator flick as well. It's a cheapo soft-core skin job with completely incongruous violence, marking the picture as something of a summary at once of everything that's wrong with American movies and exactly the reason that horny early-teen boys with impulse control problems (all of them, in other words) will want to rent this movie: it's decent masturbation material coupled with some cathartic gunplay to soothe the siren's call of self-loathing.
Fox DVD's presentation of DarkWolf features a pretty nice 1.78:1 anamorphic video transfer that demonstrates nice faithfulness to the HiDef 24p source. It's over-sharp here and again, which is as to be expected of course, and the blacks and shadows are flat, but the general appearance is pleasant. A 5.1 Dolby audio track is malnourished, with most of the action confined to the front channels. Packed on the dual-layer platter is a fifteen-minute "Making Of" reel that is almost as funny as the film. Director Richard Friedman proclaims his shambling creation the "equal of any horror movies out there"--demonstrating at once an amazing lack of self-consideration and a regrettable set of cultural blinders.
Worst offender is screenwriter Geoffrey Alan Holliday, who comes off as a colossal jackass, proclaiming that he doesn't like creature features and didn't have any idea of how to write a werewolf film so turned to the Internet for a few hours of research. He later indicates that he wishes some of the dialogue were cut out--a curious thing for a screenwriter to wish, though the most lucid comment in the entire doc. Also of note is ex-Playmate Jaime Bergman, who relates a story of a coyote charging her from a bush as a sign that she should do this film. I can't figure it out, either. The general consensus that the script is "smart" by the entire cast goes a long way towards explaining why they're in this film.
The disc is rounded out by a gag reel that's the usual collection of missed lines and giggle fits that, like most self-aggrandizing documents of this kind is most interesting for its existence and the attendant belief that anyone would be interested in DarkWolf enough to see their favourite characters cutting up behind the scenes. In its defense, however, it only goes on for a brain-numbing eight minutes. A wisely wordless theatrical trailer and trailers for From Hell, The Fury, The Omen, and Phantom of the Paradise drop the curtain on the whole sordid mess. Originally published: April 20, 2003.