A werewolf movie starring Jack Nicholson? Sounds great! But what's that? Set in a publishing company? How is that going to work?
Well, the truth is it works surprisingly well. Nicholson plays an editor who is being replaced by a younger, more ruthless man at his company. At first he's ready to simply accept it with quiet dignity, but as he's been bitten by a wolf the night before, he begins to undergo some radical changes and suddenly finds himself having the energy to fight for his position at the company and for the love of his boss' daughter. However, he also finds that he has the urge to hunt and kill at nighttime, and becomes terrified of the monster he carries inside. It's really an intelligent little story about a kind of mid-life crisis which was appreciated by the likes of Roger Ebert and various other respected film buffs.
However ... critics aside, this isn't exactly a very popular movie. Most people just find it dull and uninteresting, with elements of several genres thrown together in a big mess. I can kind of see where they're coming from ... it's a little dull in places, and probably could have been cut down by at least fifteen minutes or so, but to be honest I was never that bored watching it. Wolf is much more intelligent than most werewolf movies, and does have a few interesting ideas and metaphors that haven't really been done before in werewolf movies. The ending is a little peculiar, and in a completely different tone to the rest of the movie, but it's made up for by a pretty cool twist.
The reason Mike Nichols is such a hit-and-miss director is because he seems to make films that he cares about, which aren't necessarily aimed at a particular audience. Generally they do seem to find one somewhere, though, and I expect there are plenty of people out there who will enjoy this film as much as I did, or even more. Jack Nicholson is great as always. There are moments of that old hilarious, energetic Jack that we saw a lot of through the seventies and eighties, but mostly it's the sombre, ageing character that he often gets cast as these days. He does both of them very well, and I don't think anyone else would have been more suited for the part. James Spader is good is the slimy villain of the story, and Michelle Pfeiffer is her usual confident femme fatale character.
Though it may not be everyone's cup of tea, Wolf is a smart, fairly enjoyable twist on the werewolf genre.
Jack returns to the horror genre, this time as a werewolf. Rick Baker created the creature effects.
Jack Nicholson! How can you go wrong? You can't.
I was very impressed with this film in the earlier 90's and watched it again recently and still enjoyed it thoroughly.
All the acting in this story is good and the filmmakers did a great job with the movement of the wolves.
Although it is alot different than most werewolf films, the storyline is really well though out and I enjoy the twists that this film takes.
For his second werewolf movie, Rick Baker decided to go with a minimalist approach as far as makeup was concerned. This is easy enough to understand when you have Jack Nicholson as your leading man ... I mean, does he need any make-up at all to look like a wolf? Little is quite clearly enough (see second photo down).
It basically involves yellowy-goldy contacts, to give wolf-like eyes and such, sharp teeth and later on a bit of extra facial hair. The wolves wear clothes, and are able to talk like normal people aside from their wolfy instincts.
Nicholson throws himself into the role of the wolf with the same infectious energy he puts into all of his performances. He leaps and bounds and snarls and howls his way through all of the appropriate sequences in the most entertaining way possible. This was his most memorable performance since he played "The Joker" in Batman. And boy, does he look mean (see bottom photo).
As far as werewolf folklore is concerned it's all fairly formulaic, but it abandons the idea of silver bullets. He's bitten by a wolf and slowly begins to transform. We see him get better strength, agility, hearing, smelling and so on, and that is easily the most entertaining portion of the movie. However, here the wolf comes out every night but the change into wolf is permenant after the first full moon, which explains why the werewolf that bit him originally was just a normal wolf rather than a hybrid creature (something they neglected to explain in "The Wolf Man").
In one scene he goes to see an old man, seeking a cure for his lycanthropy, and is told that there are various rites, amulets and herbs, but he has little knowledge of it. He does, however, give him a shiny amulet to wear (see top photo), which at least partially holds back the wolf at night. If only Larry Talbot had one of those. Oh well.