Wolfcop might be the greatest werewolf movie ever. Easily the best since the Howling. Now historically, werewolf films are tough to do. Universal’s Wolf-Man was written as a sap, and played the part with Lon Chaney chewing up the scenery instead of animal carcasses. After that ignoble(?) start, these films went downhill. Pre-CGI, it was hard making a believable werewolf. Gluing fur to a man’s chest does not a werewolf make. Post-CGI they just look silly, as the ones populating the Underworld films are eight feet tall bodybuilders with elongated snouts. The only two films to do the creature justice was the aforementioned Howling which introduced air bladders into the transformation process, so that the body of the actor changing into a wolf could actually distort itself. And a honorable mention goes to the beloved Howling III because a.) it’s set in Australia, and b.) we learn that werewolves are actually marsupials.
Wolfcop starts with the geniusly named titular cop, Sgt. Lou Garou (Leo Fafard), waking up to an alarm cop, pulling his pants on with a naked hooker lying in bed next to him, finishing off a beer, and puking out his squad car as he hurriedly (and hungover/drunkenly) drives to work. This, along with the askew camera he’s shot in, tell you all you need to know about the character in under two minutes with no dialogue. I can’t tell you how happy I am about someone (director Lowell Dean) understanding how film should work.
Playing to the werewolf’s strengths, Wolfcop’s victims (all thugs) are shown after they meet their fate; ripped to shreds. Lou’s transformations are done with jump cuts and bloody/hairy props in a way that would make Eisenstein proud. And you originally don’t see Lou’s body after he transforms; just bits and pieces to create a convincing illusion.
Wolfcop moves at a fast clip, as films that require mind-boggling suspension of disbelief should. No one wonders why Lou is allowed to be the town’s brazenly drunk cop, or why he’s suddenly fighting crime as a werewolf. Keeping with the film’s (absurd) reality, Tina (Amy Matysio), the town’s wonder-cop to Lou’s dummy cop, does question Lou on why he’s suddenly working so hard. Everyone else recognizes him as a werewolf, and only the criminals bat an eye.
Granted, Lou is wearing his police uniform after he transforms, so maybe everyone’s reading his badge. A styling that coyly bypasses perhaps the greatest hindrance to movie werewolves in the past, getting their fur to look believable. It’s tougher than it would seem (just look at how crap most CGI werewolves look), so having Lou in uniform keeps the most iconic werewolf parts visible (the head and claws) while covering up all the silly bits.
Except for the first transformation, when we see Lou’s penis change first. Gratuitous, yes, but the movie does start with a topless hooker, so this is technically just equality in action. And speaking of “action,” Wolfcop marks the second time I’ve seen a film with werewolf sex in it. A disturbing trend if the numerous hits my site gets looking for it is any indication.
“Man, I think we should lay low there’s a guy running around with no face. Like you clearly ripped his whole face right off.”
The plot involves a trio of shape-shifters who must periodically drink werewolf blood to stay alive. For 200 years they’ve been cursing an unlucky citizen and then sacrificing them during the solar eclipse. Until they make the mistake of choosing Lou, who’s stronger than their past victims. (Running at barely 80 minutes in length, there’s no attempt to explain why Lou was a bad choice, or what makes him so strong, beyond the guess of, “maybe it’s the booze.”)
Frankly, the only area where Wolfcop fails to impress is its soundtrack; which is mainly retro-sounding 80s rock. While it does work within the film, Wolfcop is one of the newer films that tries to sell its soundtrack to horror movie buffs as a “future classic;” a case of reaching too far. It looks to have been a small(er) production, so I can see trying to monetize everything and anything to defray costs, but assigning your film a status it hasn’t had time to earn yet always strikes me the wrong way. As great a movie as Wolfcop is, I doubt anyone will be clamoring for its score the same way they do for those of John Carpenter.