The Werewolf of Washington
Director: Milton Moses Ginsberg
Stars: Dean Stockwell, Katalin Kallay, Henry Ferrentin
What?! Ziggy of Quantum Leap is a werewolf? Ok, you’ve piqued my interest here movie. Wait… there’s political satire in here too? Okay, intriguing enough – but how is it? Actually not too bad. I would say that it’s too similar to An American Werewolf in London but since this movie predates that by 8 years, Werewlf of Washington is pretty original in its own right. The production quality may be low and the transfer of this DVD isn’t helping, but it was still a good watch, especially after that awful Dungeon of Harrow.
Dean Stockwell stars as Jack Whittier, a reporter based in Washington DC. The film starts with his overly dramatic voice over and explanation that he’d been involved in a romantic entanglement with the President’s daughter. He wanted out so he put in for a transfer to Budapest (bit extreme, don’t you think). However the President offered Jack a job as the White House Press Secretary, a job far too good to pass up, so it’s time to head back to the states.
After the overlong opening of just static images and narration, we finally get to see the movie. In Budapest, Jack’s car is stolen and he’s forced to walk along the dark road. There are the usual warnings seen in horror movies about “beware the evil out there,” kind of stuff. Like any horror film hero, however, Jack is a skeptic and charges headlong down the road only to be attacked by a werewolf. The local residents are in fear of him as well as the pentagram now burned into his skin. Of course skeptical Jack refuses to believe in any sort of supernatural shenanigans and believes this all has to do with politics – somehow the cold war HAS to be involved, right? Those stinking Reds sicced a werewolf on him? Or when talk of a pentagram is brought up Jack’s immediate reaction is: “Oh, I knew The Pentagon was involved in this.” Eventually, however, Jack’s bubble of ignorance is burst as he comes to realize that it was just an ordinary werewolf with absolutely no political agenda that attacked him and now Jack has to deal with that bad case of lycanthrophy that will affect him every time the full moon rises.
Before fully diving into what makes this movie good I do want to address one issue I have with lycanthropes in movies. There is ALWAYS the established mythos that every time there’s a full moon this particular person will turn into a werewolf – and there’s nothing wrong with that mythology. It’s simple, it’s easy to understand but NO movie has ever gotten it right. This film, for instance, takes place over the span of a week and Jack turns into a werewolf every single night. Same thing happens in An American Werewolf in London, The Howling and countless other werewolf based horror films. Is the lunar cycle really that difficult to understand. There is only ONE night with a full moon every 29 days (or every 29.53059 days to be exact). Only on that one night does the moon reach full phase – all the nights surrounding it the moon may LOOK full but it’s really now, it’s either waxing or waning but NOT a full moon. Tonight, for instance (June 5th, 2012) the moon definately looks full, but it is actually waning and is only 96% full. Last night the moon was in full phase which would certainly explain why I’ve felt so goddamn depressed the past few days. So if lycanthrophy is fully tied to the lunar cycle then there would only be one night of the month when people transform – not a full week. That annoying fact out of the way, let’s move on.
There’s an awful lot of intentional campy humor in this movie, aside from the ridiculous looking werewolf. For instance there is how people actually react to the werewolf.. Normally people would say: “Oh shit! A werewolf! RUN!” In this movie people say: “Look at the cute puppy. Dawww. That’s a good doggie.” Then the werewolf eats them. Oh, the wacky, zany antics! There’s another scene where, and I regret not doing this review as a video because it’s really a scene that needs to be watched in order to enjoy. Jack is hiding in a bathroom stall when a pair of gentlemen come in. One of them needs to take a leak, sees the one stall is occupied and goes to use the other. His friend, however, is passionate that he use this occupied stall, even tries to pry the door open and crawl under the stall door. Even when the other guy is already peeing in the adjacent toilet and saying: “It’s cool man, I’m already peeing here, don’t worry.” Still, the fellow persists: “YOU MUST PEE IN THIS TOILET!” Does he expect his friend to just stop midstream and change toilets because it has been commanded. Really, this is one of the strangest scenes I’ve seen in a movie.