In "Werewolf of Fever Swamp", a family moves next door to a swamp, and the young kid becomes fascinated with the mystery surrounding it ...
Directed By: ?
Written By: R.L. Stine (novel)
Starring: Brendan Fletcher, Don Francks, Amos Crawley, Michael Barry ...
Running Time: 60 min
Air Date: 17/05/1996
The "Goosebumps" books were pretty big when I was in middle school, which was also around the time this television series was produced. Their popularity was increased by the fact that they became outlawed in the catholic school I attended ... apparently my dumb form teacher picked up one of her daughters Goosebumps books one night and found it incredibly disturbing. So clearly they were unsuitable for every kid in school. Way to encourage young readers, dumbass. Did I mention my form teacher was dumb?
Anyway, here the story opens with a suburban family moving out to a new rundown rustic home next to a swamp. The change of scenery is a bit unnerving at first, but a little wildlife never hurt anybody, right? Unfortunately it doesn't take long for the young boy to wander off and get lost in the aforementioned swamp, before running into a creepy old hermit who appears more or less harmless. But then he meets a local kid who tells him about the terrifying local legends surrounding fever swamp, which seem to be somehow connected to that 'swamp hermit'. Could he be the real source of the blood-curdling howling that rings across fever swamp, as he becomes a ravenous beast at every full moon? And is it true that there's a deadly fever which gives the swamp it's name?
I remember enjoying this show when I was a kid, but I don't think I saw this particular episode. The main character of the boy who investigates the mysteries of the swamp is portrayed by Brendan Fletcher, who would grow up to feature prominently in the final two 'Ginger Snaps' movies. It's actually surprisingly well-made and creepy, enjoyable for both younger audiences and the casual older viewer. There are recurring themes about the dangers of unfamiliar wildlife, and the differences in the mentality between city folk and rustic people. And it has a good ending, too. Definitely worth seeing if you get the chance.
So, the kids here begin to suspect that an old hermit living in the swamp is in fact a werewolf. The country kid appears to be something of an expert in that area, and tells the wide-eyed city lad all sorts of interesting facts about were-people. He states that the hermit will never age, so long as he keeps finding new victims, and in one scene they come across a bunch of wolfsbane in the swamp that's supposed to ward off werewolves, but apparently this is just a legend and doesn't work. The same goes for silver bullets; the idea here is that were-folk invented that particular legend so that poor people couldn't afford to hunt them down. Interesting.
*SPOILERS!* ... Turns out the hermit is just a creepy old man who likes growling a lot, howling at the moon (see top photo) and catching small boys in nets. Which is perhaps even scarier than him being a werewolf ... the actual identity of the wolf is the aforementioned know-it-all country boy previously encountered by the main character. This is pretty obvious since he's like the ONLY other local character that has been introduced.
The wolf suit isn't particularly convincing (see bottom photo), but they don't show all that much of it. The big finale takes place during a lunar eclipse, which is an interesting idea. As soon as the eclipse occurs, the wolf changes back into part-human form (see middle photo). This transformation is achieved through cut-aways and purely physical effects.
The werewolf is eventually done in partly due to a scuffle with a family dog, which is interesting as this episode aired a few months before 'Bad Moon' came out. Hmm.