The Wolfman arrived, belatedly, a couple of years ago to a muted reception. It's still a classic Universal monster though, and as if to prove that you can't keep a good beast down, the studio has already retooled. The trailer for follow-up / reboot / spin-off / bastard child Werewolf: The Beast Among Us has just arrived online.
Universal had high hopes for The Wolfman. With Benicio Del Toro in the Lon Chaney Jr role, a supporting cast including Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt and Hugo Weaving, and make-up effects from the always-astounding Rick Baker, it seemed a failsafe proposition.
That was before its director Mark Romanek quit over creative differences with the studio, however, leaving his replacement Joe Johnston with only three weeks to prepare before shooting started. Later, release dates were pushed back again and again, and there were extensive re-shoots. The film arrived a year later than originally planned, and barely recouped its budget. Rick Baker did win an Oscar though.
This new project began its life as a straight-up Wolfman sequel, in the days when Universal still had confidence in the property. Now, the studio are calling Werewolf "an all-new addition to its time-honoured legacy of classic monsters", but it arrives straight to DVD and Blu-ray, directed by Louis Morneau, of Roadkill 2 and The Hitcher 2 fame. The story involves a new wolfman terrorising a 19th century European village, attracting unsuccessful mercenaries and bounty hunters until it runs up against Ed Quinn...
The synopsis suggests some exciting escalation, in a village where most of the inhabitants gradually succumb to lycanthropy; a bit like Predator, if there were exponentially more predators as the film went on. Whether the film can actually pull that off on the limited scale that the trailer seems to demonstrate remains to be seen. So too does the film's relationship to the first one. Oddly, Universal seem to be both drawing a line under The Wolfman while simultaneously invoking it in the very familiar-looking blue/grey misty forests of the artwork.
Stephen Rea is the most immediately recognisable name in the cast, and he's joined by the aforementioned Quinn, Guy Wilson, Nia Peeples and Steven Bauer. The film shot on location in Transylvania, so let's hope some of those vibes come through. It's out in the US on Hallowe'en, but there's no UK date yet.