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Wednesday, October 31, 2007


If you're a fan of horror movies you probably have a favorite monster genre that floats your boat, a particular flavor for which you'd be willing to sit through innumerable pieces of outright shit in order to find one halfway decent flick. For many it's vampires and their seductive allure, for others it's the gustatory frisson found in tales of flesh-eating zombies, and still others groove on the slaughterhouse rampages of boogeymen like Jason Voorhees and Michael Meyers. But for Yer Bunche, it's all about the werewolves, baby.

What is it that so appeals to me about the lusty lycanthrope? Shit, I think I just answered my own question: the werewolf is a creature of the basest, most primal lusts — the lust for killing, the lust for sex, the lust to protect its territory, the lust to consume warm, bloody flesh — each something clearly identifiable and understandable as the needs of an animal, something wild and untamed that garners its power from nature itself, rather than denying the natural order by being some reanimated corpse with an agenda. Vampires, for all their elegance, are a mostly bunch of aristocratic, poncy douchebags who most people forget are fucking corpses, and corpses are not exactly known for their pleasant bouquet. I always get grossed out whenever I see some horny suckface putting the moves on a hypnotized, heaving-bosomed cutie who's oblivious to his reeking charms, and while the actual bloodsucking can be read as metaphorical Osh-Osh, I'm way too literal-minded for that and can't help but picture Count Douchebagula's fetid member about to go to work in the Good Place. "Yecch," to say the least (although I've gotta admit that Frank Langella's Dracula was a pretty sexy guy).

The rapaciousness of the werewolf is far less steeped in treachery and mystical date rape tactics than that of the velvet-caped revenant. No less deadly or without quantifiable side effects, certainly, but far more honest in the way of a dog who dislikes you for no apparent reason taking a chunk out of your ass. The werewolf’s all about the indomitability of nature, and vampires, zombies, and other such critters fly in the face of that, which is perhaps what gives them their power, the threat of the expired refusing to be dead as we understand that state of being, and that animate expression of death seeking either to mind-control us, feed on our lifeblood, or feast upon our living flesh to fuel their aimless, undead march.

The werewolf, on the other hand, is as uncontrollable and unpredictable as a natural force while also being a fusion of “civilized” humanity with the primal, and seldom can the two find a harmonious middle ground. The typical protagonist in lupine lore does not embrace the loss of control that accompanies the transformative gift and instead seeks a cure, or, since treatments for lycanthropy are apparently few and far between, they seek death but can’t work up the gumption to off themselves, either from the urge for simple self-preservation, or through some aspect of their curse that also seeks to stay alive. Any way you cut it, the tales of those thus afflicted seldom end well, and that may also be a key to their appeal: a person unwittingly thrust into a supernatural state of great power and animal drives that they can’t hope to comprehend or master, often losing themselves to their lupine side and becoming perceived as a thing of evil, by others and themselves, only to face an inevitable and tragic end that scars the lives of their loved ones.

I can totally relate to that, having done some pretty out of control shit over the years, but I groove on the wolf more for its potential for a connection with the natural world in a way that man has long ago left behind. In legendary tales of werewolfism it’s a frequent given that the shape-shifter has full control over his actions and the moments of transformation, and is not merely a slave to the influence of lunar cycles. Imagine the freedom in that state, the sharpness of the senses, the supple power of a beast built for mastery of its environment, the innate hunting skills of a born predator, and the ability to return to one’s place within human society with the ease of doffing an overcoat…

That would simply be awesome.

So I’m fascinated with all tales of the wolf-folk, be they works of prose, comic books — the standout in that medium would be Alan Moore’s classic SWAMP THING issue with “The Curse,” a story that examines the connection between the lycanthropic cycle and the menstrual cycle — or movies, and speaking as a lover of such stuff I’m here to offer you a guide to the essential cinematic works in the field. And one thing that surprised me while coming up with a list for this piece was how few truly good or even notable werewolf flicks there are, so when you see a good one cherish it and let me know about it in case of the unlikely chance I may not have seen it.


The first of Universal’s werewolf movies, this one’s interesting today mostly as a curiosity since it really doesn’t grip the viewer as earlier entries in the studio’s legendary horror cycle did. You read and hear about Universal’s versions of Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Mummy again and again, but Henry Hull’s turn as the unfortunate Dr. Glendon is often overlooked due the film’s wildly uneven script that frequently loses sight of its own point (the werewolf) in favor of “local color” character bits that were more appropriate in THE INVISIBLE MAN and THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, both films steeped in a certain fey campiness. Other than its historical significance, THE WEREWOLF OF LONDON is notable for Dr. Yogami — white guy Warner Oland in one of his many portrayals of an Asian — a scientist who covets the rare Marifisa Lupina plant, s specimen found by Dr. Glendon that provides a temporary cure for lycanthropy, a condition that Yogami passed on to an unsuspecting Glendon during the attack that gets the story rolling. Yogami is a thoughtful man, but his need for the cure overrules his morals and makes for a terrific performance.


The template for most werewolf flicks to follow, this was the last truly great film in the Universal horror cycle, and screenwriter Kurt Siodmak’s script introduced many elements into the lore of the werewolf that we now take as rote, namely the silver bullet thing and the strict adherence to the full moon connection rather than merely a nighttime or willed occurrence. Lon Chaney Jr.’s Larry Talbot became an iconic character for his hangdog manner and anguish over his homicidal case of five o’ clock shadow, returning in several sequels and spinoffs, but none of those have even an ounce of the strong story meat found in this initial installment. Oh, and if the sequels are any indication, being a werewolf pretty much renders you immortal, so you’d better get used to an existence of tearing out people’s throats and waking up naked and confused in some strange part of town (although Larry always wakes up clothed, yet sans footwear).

And as you probably noticed in these sensationalistic publicity stills, there's definitely a correlation between sex and violence in this film since Larry's doomed to kill his fiancée. Hey, back in the days you couldn't get away with a werewolf rape scene — you'd still have a hard time with that one even now — implied or otherwise, so titillating stills like these were about as questionable as it got.


A couple of lapses into hokey, overage juvenile delinquent movie territory notwithstanding, I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF offers up a fun and mildly creepy metaphor for the horrors and pains of adolescence, and wouldn't be the last lycanthropy flick to tackle that theme. Michael (BONANZA, LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE) Landon stars as a J.D. with an irrationally explosive temper who undergoes prescribed psychiatric treatment in an attempt to curb his hair-trigger aggression, only to end up in the “care” of a mad psychiatrist who uses hypnotic regression to send him down the evolutionary chain to become an actual werewolf whenever he hears bells (how a werewolf fits into mankind’s evolutionary tree I won’t even begin to theorize). The poor bastard goes on a killing spree before his doom, and the film contains one of the most effective werewolf-on-the-hunt moments in film: the werewolf prowls his high school after hours,

ending up in the gym and encountering a girl practicing moves on the uneven parallel bars. As she executes a move that inverts her visual perspective, she comes face-to-face, upside-down, with the slavering monster.

Terrified, she falls to the floor and attempts to escape, but no dice.

Not a great movie, but definitely worth at least a one-time viewing.


Surprisingly the only werewolf flick to come out of the venerable Hammer Studios stable, this one stars my man Oliver Reed as Leon, the result of a forgotten dungeon inmate’s rape of a mute serving girl, an unwanted child born on Christmas day while his mother dies bringing him into the world. Since a child sharing the birthday of Jesus is “an insult to heaven,” Leon’s doomed from the start, and as he grows up he exhibits behavioral and physical traits that mark him as a werewolf in the making, and then he falls in love with a girl betrothed to another…

Oliver Reed, on any given day at the pub.

Tragic all the way, it’s interesting that Leon’s troubles come not from being bitten or from some Satanic pact, but from the fact that little baby Jesus apparently has birthday attention issues.


The first of 1981’s back-to-back landmark wolf-out flicks, THE HOWLING strays a bit from the source novel but is a terrific horror story nonetheless. When a TV new reporter agrees to meet a stalker/serial killer in a scurvy porno emporium, she witnesses something so traumatic that she succumbs to amnesia. Her therapist (Patrick MacNee of THE AVENGERS) sends her to “the Colony,” an upstate Californian retreat where he works with an odd assortment of patients. Once there, things take a turn for the truly weird, and to say more would ruin things for those who haven’t seen it, so I’ll just shut up right here and now.

Loaded with in-jokes for the horror movie junkies in the audience and bolstered by Rob Bottin’s excellent werewolf designs and effects, THE HOWLING stands as an exemplary entry in the genre that is not to be missed. Plus, the flick earns special points for the late Elizabeth Brooks as Marsha,

the nymphomaniac sister of the serial killer who’s enough to cause a line to form of guys who couldn’t wait for her to put the bite on them. "AAAAWWOOOOOOOOO," indeed! And you have to love the Germans for coming up with a poster campaign for the film that features werewolf rape as its main image:

I mean, talk about lurid!


Rearing its shaggy head four months after THE HOWLING, AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON upped the lycanthropic ante by having a studio budget, picturesque UK locations, the toothsome and talented Jenny Agutter, and FX badass Rick Baker on the makeup/creature effects, so how could it lose? Frankly, it didn’t, and over twenty-five years after the fact it still vies with THE HOWLING for top position in the hearts of most werewolf mavens (hell, I paid to see it three nights in a row when it came out!). David Naughton and Griffin Dunne are two American tourists trekking on foot across the British countryside who, against the advice of the creepy, tight-lipped locals, wander off the roads and into the moors where they fall prey to…well, you have a pretty good idea if you’ve read this far into this post. Dunne’s character doesn’t survive the attack, while Naughton awakens in a London hospital under the care of a mouth-watering nurse (Agutter), and is visited by the mangled corpse of his best buddy. His buddy warns him that he’s now a werewolf and must kill himself before the next full moon, but if Naughton had killed himself the movie would have been about twenty minutes long and pissed off an audience that came expecting some righteous monster action, so you can guess the rest.

Very entertaining and engaging from start to finish, some find its blend of humor and horror to be somewhat jarring and as a result feel that film is deeply flawed by a schizophrenic tome, but I totally disagree with that assessment; THE HOWLING is also quite amusing — admittedly, provided you get the jokes — but no one ever bitches about it being a mess, so I guess you’ll just have to judge AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON for yourself. And it gets extra special points for Griffin Dunne as Jack, the most cheerful mangled and steadily decomposing corpse you’ll ever see.

Griffin Dunne as Jack: if ever there was a supporting role that completely steals the film it's in, this is it.

WOLF (1997)

This story of a middle-aged man's werewolf-bitten transformation from a fading light at a big publishing house into the literal alpha wolf greatly appealed to me for being pretty much what might have happened if THE WOLF MAN's Larry Talbot embraced lycathropy as the gift that it could be, but its blend of low key horror and romance didn't sit well with everyone. I recommend it, but don't check it out in hope of finding major scares, gore, or even a spectacular transformation sequence despite Rick Baker again lending his skills to the proceedings. Jack Nicholson's werewolf is very much a throwback to the hairy guy in slacks and a button-down shirt prevalent in werewolf movies until the special effects kick in the ass of 1981, and while Jack's look has it's detractors I must admit that it takes me back to the days of CREATURE FEATURES watched on my old B/W televison when I was little, only in a mildly R-rated version.

Jack Nicholson's modern day descendant of Larry Talbot.


This Canadian entry is proof of what can be done with a low budget and a hell of a lot of talent and intelligence. Drawing once more upon the lycanthropy/horrors of puberty theme, GINGER SNAPS deals with two uber-morbid and very close high school-age sisters, a pair of creepy misfits who, like good old Carrie White, have yet to have their first periods. The older of the two, Ginger, finally starts her menstrual cycle, but has the misfortune of that event coinciding with local animal attacks that turn out to be the work of a particularly savage werewolf. The monster catches her newly bloody scent and, in a scene intended to look and feel like a rape (according to the film’s co-scriptwriter), mauls the living shit out of her. Ginger survives and in no time flat begins to exhibit a hitherto unseen level of aggression, both socially and sexually — keep in mind that lycanthropy is a communicable disease — to say nothing of such undeniable signs of wolfing out as getting furry in odd places, her teeth becoming more suited to tearing flesh, and the tail that she’s sprouted from out of nowhere. Her younger sister realizes what’s happening, and sets out to cure her sister, and if that doesn’t work…

Sorry, but there are some things Pamprin just ain't made to handle.

One of the rare werewolf movies from a female perspective, GINGER SNAPS is highly recommended for its genuine scares, well-handled lycanthropy/puberty metaphor, and its wicked DeGRASSI HIGH MEETS THE HOWLING sensibility. And the first sequel’s actually pretty good!


A gene-splicing of werewolf movie conventions and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, this is one kickass mamma-jamma! If GINGER SNAPS is the “girls” werewolf movie, then DOG SOLDIERS is its testosterone-fueled analog, and Jesus H. Christ is it fun! A bunch of soldiers on maneuvers in some UK backswoods realize they’re being hunted by a pack of very big, very nasty werewolves, so they hole up in a remote house and wait for sunup while attempting to weather an ultra-violent lycanthropic siege.

That’s pretty much it, and it reminds me of what I would have come up with, playing with my G.I. Joes in the backyard when I was eight, provided Hasbro had made an adventure set that included werewolves. Sheer adrenalin and spewing gore set this one in the top ranks of the genre.

CURSED (2005)

Plagued with production nightmares that made it take forever to make it to the screen, CURSED is not a great movie by any means, a fact that wasn’t helped by the studio cutting most of the gore and violence to ensure a PG-13 theatrical release. Well, I didn’t even think of wasting my cash on that version and instead waited for the unrated DVD, but the movie is still pretty pedestrian if not for the following items of note:
  • Christina Ricci as a girl about to become a werewolf. What’s not to like?
  • The spectacular sight of Shannon Elizabeth being torn in half at the waist by a ravening beast.
  • A very funny sequence involving a female werewolf who takes umbrage at being called “fat.”
Anyway, that’s it for my list, but do you have any suggestions? Please write in if you do! And, no, I didn’t forget THE WOLFEN or THE COMPANY OF WOLVES; I didn’t include them because the monsters in THE WOLFEN aren’t werewolves, and THE COMPANY OF WOLVES was frilly, pretentious horseshit. So there.


Happy Halloween, dear readers! Get out there in costume and represent!

-Yer Bunche

Monday, October 29, 2007


The Wolfman, caught puking in Greenwood Cemetery after seventeen shots of Jagermeister at the barbecue joint.

With Halloween only days away, the weekend atmosphere was festive as the pre-Halloween shindigs spang into being across the land. Since the day of days falls on a Wednesday this year, Friday and Saturday served as substitute party days for those whose work schedules wouldn't allow them to properly celebrate, so everywhere one turned there was a house party or some kind of madness going on at local pubs. Never the kind of place to be asleep at the wheel when it comes to such shenanigans, the barbecue joint where I used to work held its own hoo-haa on Saturday night, but a few costumed loons wandered in on Friday night as well, so these pics are from both evenings.

Despite the pissing rain on Friday, I made my way down Fifth Avenue toward the place, and while braving the inclement weather I was delighted to see this house decked out in appropriate fashion.

Not surprisingly, the Friday night display of costumes at the barbecue joint wasn't a case of revelers turning out en masse since that would be saved for Saturday, but there was a charming fairy who allowed me to snap her picture.

She even let kitchen loon Shun and bartender Joy in on the photo-op!

Then came Saturday night, and I gave my "Bunchewolf" getup a test drive.

Lemme tell ya, the outfit's gonna be just fine for running around on Halloween night when it's supposed to get down to about sixty degrees or less, but I don't recommend it for hanging out in a crowded bar with a working heating system and the body heat generated by the aforementioned crowd.

Always game for costumed lunacy thanks to having the vibe of New Orleans rub off on her during her university days, Joy the bartender showed up and slung toxic libations while decked out gear that would have been right at home in an old Hollywood western cathouse run by a character named Miss Pussi DeLish.

Local artiste Jerreye arrived as a skeleton, crafted in his own inimitable DIY style.

A DJ was on hand to spin some rockin' tunes, and thankfully gave the much-overplayed "Monster Mash" a miss in favor of punk rock classics, movie soundtrack snippets, and a completely unexpected airing of Frank Zappa's "Zombie Woof," a favorite of mine and also a character I portrayed for Halloween back in 1982.

And the cool-assed DJ even worked the wheels of steel in a Darth Vader costume. Righteous!

Resident terror from the Great White North Carly Rex originally intended to be a combination naughty nurse/Smurfette, but opted out of that potential boner-inducer to avoid having to paint herself blue and possibly suffer a fate similar to that of Jill Masterson in GOLDFINGER. Instead she rocked a punk-rocker/biker chick look, an aspect that I greatly appreciated and dreamt above later that night.

As always, there were people whose costumes didn't really represent anything in particular, but they were just happy to dress up and have a good time.

These two women are a perfect example of the "what the fuck are you supposed to be" outfit, and when they drunkenly left to find another party I ran outside to ask the explorer if she was suppsoed to be a character from a Monty Python sketch. She looked at me like I was growing a second head, blurted out "I'd like to be!" and then wobbled for balance before announcing "You know who I am!!!" Uh, yeah. Right.

Then my old pal Amanda showed up as the "fairy fuckin' princess," a frighteningly trashy character that not only exemplified her sense of humor, but also de-glammed her natural good looks by about 98%.

The scariest thing about this outfit is that I've seen non-costumed women who looked worse than this at the barbecue joint, more often than not cruising for some dick. If that's not enough to give you a man-gina, I don't know what is.

So as a preliminary blast of alter-ego wackiness, the barbecue joint's Halloween party was a fuckload of fun (although not as memorable as last year's, for reasons I won't go into here), and I'm fully in the right mental place for Wednesday.

So get ready for the report from the big NYC Halloween parade and the aftermath at Christopher Street! I can hardly wait!!!

Friday, October 26, 2007


So there's this new movie out called LARS AND THE REAL GIRL that's about a guy with severe social disorders who orders a lifelike "Real Girl" doll to be his companion. In case you don't know, this comedic idea was inspired by the real life phenomenon of the Real Doll, a life-size, eerily lifelike series of female dolls that can be used as hyper-realistic window display manikins, oddball decorations, sculpture for display, and, thanks to them being, er, "anatomically correct," they're also perhaps the ultimate in male masturbation toys.

I first heard of the Real Doll a little over ten years ago when they were described on THE HOWARD STERN SHOW by one of the manufacturers, and I was rather creeped out at the idea. But the concept was nothing new; men have theorized about some sort of fuck toy since time immemorial, coming up with alternatives to real women such as hollowing out various fresh fruits, wanking off with a raw piece of room-temperature liver to approximate a "realistic" texture (as made infamous in Phillip Roth's 1969 novel PORTNOY'S COMPLAINT), and of course the classic inflatable doll that's been around in one form or another, with varying levels of manufacturing finesse, since around the early 1900's.

The classic inflatable love doll: I hope to the gods that I never get that hard up for some pussy.

There was even an initially interesting underground comic book called DOLL by Guy Colwell that launched in 1989, and chronicled the "adventures" of a startlingly realistic sex doll commissioned from a genius artist by a hideously deformed man for use as a companion and an outlet for his sexual needs.

The doll was crafted with "flesh" made from a suitably yielding substance, equipped with a heating unit that gave it a body temperature of 98.6 degrees, and it even included a modular vaginal cylinder that could be removed for variable levels of intimate tightness and the concerns of cleaning and maintenance. Eventually the doll is stolen from its buyer and sent on an unwitting odyssey in which it is passed around and used by many horny characters, each encounter as characteristically graphic as one would expect from underground comics territory while also examining the motivations of each user.

I read about three issues of DOLL before losing interest. I mean, how long can you read what is essentially the same story for issue after issue when the main "character" is an inanimate, posable manikin with a blank stare whose sole purpose is to be plugged with the greasy Johnsons of assorted unsavory types?

The late comedian Sam Kinison — my choice for the funniest comedian of all time after Richard Pryor — even postulated how somewhere there were scientists working on the "elastic bush," a marvel of science and technology that would render its creators millionaires overnight since "it never has a period" and is "never tired and never talks back." Such an invention takes reducing a woman to just a hole to new lows, but that goal had been achieved long before Kinison's onstage ranting, as anyone who's ever been in a Times Square porno emporium and seen one of those wide-open foam latex pussies can tell you. It's a soft-plastic female crotch that offers both below-the-belt orifices for the eager masturbator, and when seen disembodied and packaged behind plastic in a colorful gift box it's indeed disturbing and resembles either an amorphous, unnamable thing as envisioned by H.P. Lovecraft or some slavering space alien. And to top it off, some of them are equipped with wraparound vibrators and even squeeze bulbs and hoses to create a sucking effect. Ladies, don't get me wrong. I'm mesmerized by your Good Stuff, but one of these things only looks like what you’ve got if it were portrayed by a not-very-good Muppet, and is really just plain crude and best reserved for use as a novelty pencil-holder.

And besides, what the fuck happened to just plain old simple jerking off?

Anyway, after mulling over the concept of the Real Doll, I couldn’t help but picture a life-size, life-weight contraption that may have looked realistic but was rather corpselike in aspect, bringing to mind sweaty loners and social retards in wife-beater t-shirts, securely ensconced in a dank basement, enacting their necrophile fantasies with a tube of Astroglide in hand. I wondered how anyone could get turned on by something that was a little over five feet of dead weight that just lay there, its unliving eyes staring like a road-killed deer, and after “use” would need to be hauled bodily over to the sink and have its lady parts hosed out with the nozzle used for spraying crud off of dirty dishes. I also wondered about what you’d do with a Real Doll when not having sex with one of them; would you continually buy them new sexy outfits? Would you name them? Would you come to think of them in the same way that sailors anthropomorphize their ships and refer to them as “her” or “she?”

And what about the physical logistics? Do their vaginas stretch and distend like the real thing does, depending on how their legs are positioned? What do they feel and taste like? Does their plastic skin smell like PVC or rubber? Also, the garden variety Real Doll costs exactly one cent less than $7000, including postage and handling, so there’s also the price to consider. If I were going to shell out that kind of scratch, I’d go on a lavish trip to the UK or buy some serious stereo equipment or a big-assed plasma screen TV!

With all of this in mind I went to the official Real Doll website and checked it all out, and I have to admit I was amazed, intrigued, a bit creeped out, and reminded of the possible prototypes for the replicants in BLADE RUNNER.

The FAQ section answered most of my questions, so I moved on to the galleries of available types. Most of them seemed a bit stiff, but they were impressive as pieces of manufactured product, so I perused each one. Then I found two items that put me into the mindset of the hypthetical creepy basement boinker, namely the editions that were monikered “Britney” and Kaori.”

Upon first Glance of the Britney version I did a double take and said to myself, "That's GOT to be a real model!" But no, it was an incredibly convincing toy.

Is it just me, or is this really amazing? It's a goddamned work of art! Then there was a fully nude example of the same doll that only betrayed its artificiality by the rubbery bend of the "flesh" around its knee.

The knee gives it away, as well as a certain stillness of the figure, but it's still quite impressive.

The Kaori doll was featured in the obligatory schoolgirl uniform, but then they decked it out in this getup and posed it provocatively.

I swear to the gods that this looks like a shot of a real eighteen-to-early-twenty-something Japanese chick. And when I was done looking at the site I couldn't get the images of those two dolls out of my head, leading me to the disturbing realization that if given the opportunity to "test drive" either or both of them I would probably do it, just as long as it was a one time thing and nobody ever found out. I'm not denying my occasional need to "take matters into my own hands," but owning a Real Doll would be taking it to levels that are way too extreme and frought with unwelcome psychological underpinnings for me.

I also considered that there probably are perfectly decent people out there, both male and female, who are too shy or socially awkward to be comfortable enough to ever have a physical relationship with a real live person, so for all I know the Real Doll may be doing more good than I initially thought. I may not get lucky as often as I'd like, but at least fate has kindly thrown me that option while some others will never know the pleasure of that all-too-human connection. And if the Real Doll can help to ease the pain of the lonely, either as something to talk to or as a means to approximate intimate contact, then who the hell am I to pass judgement?


I saw this ad the other morning while taking the shuttle from Times Square to Grand Central, and I'm willing to bet that whoever wrote it knew exactly what they were doing:

Oh, and it's the slogan for a new toothpaste. Yeah, toothpaste...