Horror cinema, like evolution, sometimes takes a retrograde step. As certain insects have lost their hind-pairs of wings or dolphins have returned to the sea, so this beloved genre of ours sometimes seems to be careering backwards to a time in the 1950s, when US Drive-In audiences were ‘treated’ to such Roger Corman-produced low budget fare as CREATURE FROM THE HAUNTED SEA and THE WASP WOMAN. These were movies that consisted of about an hour of nothing much happening at all, filmed in a static way with stilted dialogue and a tremendous sense of ‘Please Get ON With It’, intercut occasionally with shots of a cheap-looking monster or a girl in her underwear. They also tended to have great posters, the equivalent of which today is the eye-catching DVD box cover (see above for an example - fantastic, isn't it?)
WEREWOLF RISING eschews the exposure of attractive female flesh (on the whole) for a nifty-looking werewolf that we get to see flashes of, but otherwise the result is much the same as all those bottom of the barrel 1950s movies, as well as much of the other product / rubbish currently in release from the Image Entertainment / RLJ stable. What you actually get for your money is a micro-budget, amateurish production with occasional flares of competence that one suspects had more spent on its advertising campaign than on the film itself.
Ex-alcoholic Emma (Melissa Carnell) returns to her Arkansas country shack after a period in rehab. She befriends Johnny Lee (Matt Copko) who, when he’s not sleeping on the floor next to his collection of beer cans is trying to impress her on his sit-on lawnmower. Emma’s other friend is Uncle Wayne (Brian Berry) a fat paedophile with a drink problem who brings wine to dinner and tries to get off with Emma in her kitchen, a place which seems to have been decorated by a chicken-obsessed madman.
A werewolf is terrorising the local area (as we’ve witnessed in the prologue). Johnny gets bitten and undergoes a CGI transformation. In what is possibly a werewolf movie first, he pays a naked visit to the laundrette afterwards to get his clothes washed.
Things reach a climax as Emma gets terrorised in her cabin and it all gets pleasingly mental and bloodstained for a bit, but by the resolution I still couldn’t work out who the werewolf we see at the beginning was meant to be.
WEREWOLF RISING does have a few nice moments - the opening sweeping views of the forbidding, wintry landscape are excellent, and every now and then there are shots during the cabin terrorisation bits that show some nicely backlit scary werewolf shapes. On the whole, however, this is on a par with other Image releases like BLOODY HOMECOMING and THE INVOKING in terms of being, well, really not very good. While I hate to do micro-budget projects like this down, it’s difficult to find much to recommend here, and it was difficult to resist the urge to fast forward through much of its 77 minute running time. For serious werewolf completists only.
Image Entertainment are releasing WEREWOLF RISING on Region 2 DVD on the 22nd September 2014