Werewolf Tales is an anthology containing three separate stories all centered on lycanthropic misadventure. It opens with a montage of art, animation and some self-sourced film clips explaining what a werewolf is and how they generally come to be. This segues into the opening credits which are worth mentioning simply because of the cheese ball, eighties style, glam-rock that plays in the background. Admittedly not my scene, once that's over, it's on to the first story.
Bestiality - Written and directed by Ron Ford
Harry and his two accompanying thugs are at an antique shop of some sort to collect the monthly dues for their protection racket. Fat Harry and the constant worry he has for his hair had me giggling from the get go. Those three thugs, with that kooky, almost Tromaesque rendition of an organized crime family, have to be seen to be believed. To quote from the story, "It's friggin' beautiful." Anyway, while they conduct their business, a stranger comes in seeking a ring that was acquired along with the estate of some poor dude who recently kicked the bucket. Harry sees the ring, likes the ring and keeps the ring for himself, much to the chagrin of the man who claims that it's a symbol of his people... "To you it is only worth the value of the metal, to us it is everything!" The stranger leaves without his prize promising that "you're regrets on this matter will be great!" Sure enough, within seconds, the ring begins to glow and burn on Harry's finger; it won't come off either. No biggie, they head out for lunch.
The stranger from the shop tails the gangsters to the place they make their drop. When Harry goes in to deliver payment to his boss (while his partners sit in the car and play "Go Fish"), the stranger slices his own finger open and uses the blood to put a wolfish mojo on the hapless ring bearer. One quick morphing effect and a big, fuzzy werewolf mask means the shit is now going to hit the fan. Harry rips the head of the guy he's talking to and the guns start blazing. The rest is a fast-paced barrage of violence, gore, and unexpected character shifts. The masks look like old, costume-shop closeout but fit the overall tone of the segment, some of the nastier bits are real eyebrow raisers and the comedy succeeds because it has time on its side. At well under thirty minutes, nothing is around long enough to wear on you. The whole shebang has an EC Comics feel to it. It's well edited, well paced and has a competent story. Not bad at all; next story...
Dark Bite - Directed by John Bowker - Written by Belinda Alexandra
Some nice death-metal riffs bring us to Stewert; a lowly and unappreciated company man whose co-workers wish would "just die". Nice, eh? While working alone in his office one night, a mysterious babe leaves him an old-looking book. Now that may not sound all too exciting on its own but let me paint a clearer picture for you. This guy is a semi-nerdy, balding, go nowhere, lost in the world kind of every-man whose only phone messages when he gets home at night are from his mother. So, a sultry babe with an exotic and mysterious looking book is big shit for my man Stewert. The tome promises that those who read it will become "strong and bold, the terror of young and old". We find out that the witchy chick who has been showing up is only visible to our hero and despite warnings from a colleague that spent some time in New Orleans and has seen a lot of "evil stuff", he keeps reading.
In no time at all Stewert is performing dark rituals like a seasoned pro. It pays off, too. He gets his wish, becomes a werewolf and bites the face off of a local convenience store clerk (not shown). As it turns out, he likes it... quite a lot. While performing the ritual again, the witch re-appears. Stewert grovels for the opportunity to be a wolf once more, his intention, to tear the face off of the one he hates the most. It doesn't exactly turn out that way though. Not only that, but he's soon tormented by visions of beasts as well as the bloody spirits of those whose lives were taken by the beast within. It doesn't seem that Stewert will come to a happy end, does it? There's minimal gore in this one but a fair amount of blood is tossed around. A lot of sharp editing (from Kevin Lindenmuth) and a satisfying twist ending equal another good segment. Two for two so far...
No Place to Hyde - Directed by Joe Sherlock - Written by Kevin Lindenmuth
Hank receives a package on his doorstep, one that he's been anxiously waiting for. He tells his loud, booze-swilling wife that it's just something he won on Ebay. In the box there is a small, innocuous looking bottle. It's the final ingredient needed to finish a potion. Hank has been studying up on a formula that he ran across in the diary of a certain Dr. Jeckell. Once finished and successfully tested (on the pet frog) Hank drives himself out into the middle of nowhere and takes a nice swig. Almost as soon as he gets it down he begins the expected transformation, but a minor wrench is tossed into the works. A man has been following Hank around for awhile now and right in the midst of the big change this stranger (looking just a little bit like a cross between the lead singer of Blues Traveler and Ron Jeremy (!)) helps Hank find his way into unconsciousness. When he wakes up, Hank is back at home with both the stranger and his wife who, incidentally, has had her throat torn out. Turns out that our friend Hank is the great grandson of the notorious doctor Jeckell himself. Now his nefarious guest, dressed in black no less, wants the formula for himself. Why? Here's where it gets pretty damn interesting. I don't want to ruin the surprise so let's just say that a transformation is not exactly the result of drinking the aforementioned super-cocktail. Once again, there isn't a lot of gore to see but there are ideas. It's a great twist on some all too familiar material.
The biggest problem with being a fan of independent horror these days is the fact that the odds are stacked so highly against you. Renting or buying something new is a big crapshoot; "Shoot, we got crap!" That's the way it often seems to turn out. You have to overcome the usual low-budget pitfalls but Werewolf Tales is a fun and furry step in the right direction. The plots are solid, the direction is capable and, most importantly, it's entertaining. Even with a relatively lengthy end credits sequence the whole thing only runs about seventy-one minutes. Each segment was only as long as it needed to be and that's a good thing but I wouldn't have minded seeing one more story and that, for the record, is a compliment.
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