Monday, August 24, 2009

On 'The Wolf Man' and Werewolf Transformations

Ok, so I assume everyone's seen 'The Wolfman' trailer by now. I have to say, I think it looks pretty good, but the quality of the upcoming remake isn't really what I want to talk about today. If you haven't seen it yet, watch the vid below (which I nabbed from Bloody-Disgusting).

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Just for the record, I'm a HUGE fan of the 1941 original flick, and I love the actors they got for the remake. Unless they're able to reanimate Lon Chaney Jr. to reprise the role, you can't get better casting for this part than Benicio Del Toro. But this was a troubled production, and the suits at Universal seem to be playing musical chairs with this flick's release date (which is never a good sign). However, in my opinion, the sin this movie committed was tying the hands of one of the greatest effects wizards in the business, Rick Baker.

What is so supremely fucking stupid about this is that Mr. Baker is the man who crafted the best werewolf transformation scene in history in 1981's 'American Werewolf in London.' Here is that excellent scene in it's entirety, courtesy of YouTube.

Apparently, Baker wanted to do an old-school FX transformation scene, but the Universal suits said no, and deatils are scarce as to his input to the final design and look of the wolfman in the finished film. In fact, there were several weeks of reshoots that took place earlier this year to supposedly remake the entire transformation scene and look of the character, changing him from a two to four-legged creature.

Now, after seeing a portion of the transformation in the trailer, what really boggles my mind is the obvious tribute they're paying to Baker's previous work in 'American Werewolf.' Wasn't this supposed to be 'The Wolf Man?' I mean, c'mon, there's no question what they're doing with the ankles, hands and all that. Is this Baker returning to his roots or have they kicked the man to the curb and are now blatantly imitating his past brilliance? It's obvious from his original design that he initially went in intending to pay homage to the design of the original film, but apparently that's not want Universal wanted.

It's all very strange. If they're going to bring back their famous monsters line (which is something they've been trying to do for awhile now), you'd think they'd be interested in retaining the identity of the monsters themselves.

Regardless, I thought the CGI looked good, even though FX still would've been so much cooler.


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