Cybersurfing: Knowing the Wolfman

Zombo’s Closet of Horror has a couple of interesting, recent posts, one on KNOWING and one on the WOLFMAN remake. The former takes exception to the negative reviews that the recent Alex Proyas thriller has received; the later speculates on the possiblity that the man-to-wolf transformations will be achieved with computer generated imagery.

In Destiny in a Handbasket, Zombo writes:

As he did in Dark City, Proyas conjures another sepia-toned vision of determinism, fate, and faith, and ratchets up the tension with three carefully crafted, special effects-laden scenes of death and destruction before finishing with an outstanding fourth. Cage, as astrophysicist John Koestler, portrays an everyman, quirks and all, coiled and held tight in the moments, filled with knowledge but mostly powerless. Borrowing the science fiction staples of pending global cataclysm (seen in 1951’s When Worlds Collide, slated to be remade in 2010 by Stephen Sommers), and celestial intervention, Knowing is an emotionally charged drama meticulously combining horror, science fiction, and fantasy conventions into an absorbing story worthy of more serious, and less caustic, critique.

It is an interesting defense of the film, but the review does contradict itself a bit at the end, by referring to KNOWING as a “popcorn movie” – not the kind of film we tend to take seriously.

UPDATE: Zombo explains the apparent contradiction in terms here. I should perhaps add that the first time I ever saw the phrase “popcorn movie” was in a review in Cinefantastique magazine, which used the phrase not to signify low quality but low ambition – a popcorn movie could be fun and entertaining, but it was not mean to be taken seriously.

In “CGI or Not?” Scott Essman makes the cas for not using computers to make the transition from Benicio Del Toro’s normal appearance to that of the WOLF MAN:

The CG man-wolf transformations in VAN HELSING were empty eye candy.  In the UNDERWORLD films, the were spectacular but forgettable. In AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN PARIS they were dismissible. But who can forget the transformations in CAT PEOPLE (1982), THE HOWLING or AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON? All done practically and all groundbreaking – and, dare I say, none have been surpassed.

The irony here is that Rick Baker, who provided the make and transformation effects for AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, created the werewolf makeup for THE WOLF MAN, but apparently he was not asked to render the transformations effects. Pity.

About the Author

Steve Biodrowski

Cinefantastique's Los Angeles Correspondent from 1987 to 1993 and West Coast Editor from 1993 to 1999. Currently the webmaster of Cinefantastique Online, I also run a website called Hollywood Gothique that covers Halloween Horror and Sci-Fi Cinema Events in the Los Angeles area.

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