I have been a fan of werewolf movies since childhood when I learned the Wolfman had nards, courtesy of The Monster Squad. In fact, even bad werewolf films have been fun to watch for me. I love seeing the transformations and each director’s interpretation of what a werewolf is, whether they become full on wolf on all fours or a hybrid on two feet. Sometimes they are funny like in Teen Wolf or scary like in An American Werewolf in London, but regardless of comedic standing, or lack thereof, I don’t really think one can go wrong with werewolves.
Now, in terms of timing, there really is no better time to watch a werewolf film than during a full moon, which is when we all know that a werewolf transforms. So, the arrival of Late Phases, a highly praised werewolf film from Dark Sky Films, had absolute perfection in timing.
Late Phases stars notable horror actors Nick Damici (Stake Land), Ethan Embry (Vacancy), Lance Guest (Halloween II), Tom Noonan (House of the Devil) and Tina Louise (The Stepford Wives).
Damici plays Ambrose, a blind Vietnam War veteran who is a little rough around the edges, which is no doubt because of his impairment.
Now, his new community has been losing people once a month for years, blaming the deaths on animal attacks from the surrounding woods. Ambrose, who is obviously more self-sufficient and, ironically, more observant, is attacked in his home and, because of the dog smell and the full moon, understands that the animal is, in fact, a werewolf. Determined to figure out who the wolf is, Ambrose spends the next month preparing for its inevitable return.
Nick Damici is absolutely incredible in this film. I am a fan of Stake Land, where he plays a similar type of hardened character, but his portrayal as a blind man is not only convincing but almost endearing. I suppose you might say that I have a soft spot for black sheep. Honestly, this movie would not have been the same without him.
Lance Guest, who looks completely different from his days of John Carpenter films, is another excellent addition to the film. His appearance alone makes him seem sketchy, but then you add in his personality and you know something is just off about him. It is hard to tell if he is really a good person or not.
As I said I the beginning, the transformation is always fun to watch. This one appeared to be half makeup effects, half CGI, which I am ok with. Not every film can have Rick Baker’s An American Werewolf in London effects. The CGI was not overly obvious either. They didn’t go full James Cameron with it; just enough to make you realize that the computer was doing more work than the effects team was doing with their own makeup skills. The skin ripping was especially fun for me. It was like tearing open your own little flesh wrapped gift and the surprise inside is a wolfy you!
The wolves themselves look a lot like the gargoyle from the Tales from the Darkside movie but obviously a lot hairier. While they looked a bit goofier than most film and TV werewolves do, I actually thought they were pretty cool. I like that they dared to do something different. In fact, I appreciate it. Some people get all bent out of shape when something isn’t exactly like something else but how can they possibly appreciate anything when everything is exactly the same?
Late Phases is a smart and original addition to the werewolf subgenre of horror. The film is less about werewolves and more about Ambrose’s journey to his final battle, much in the way that The Walking Dead is more about surviving in an apocalyptic world than it is about zombies. Where most werewolf themed horror films focus on the wolf or on a main characters inevitable transformation into one, Late Phases puts its focus on our hero, Ambrose, and this is what makes the film so original.
If you are fan of lycanthropy, consider giving Late Phases a try. You may just be as pleasantly surprised as I was.
Late Phases is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Dark Sky Films on March 10.
========================================================================================================Ann Hale is the horror editor for Pop-Break.com and a senior contributing writer, reviewing horror movies and television shows. She is also the American Correspondent for Lovehorror.co.uk and writer for Geekandstuff.com. Ann attended East Carolina University, majoring in English Literature. She is a collector of Halloween (the film) memorabilia and is a self-admitted opinionated horror nerd. You can follow her, her collection and her cat, Edward Kittyhands on Twitter and Instagram @Scarletjupiter