Haunted Honeymoon

Film Review: President Wolfman (2012)

SYNOPSIS:

The President of the United States has been bitten by a werewolf and is loose on the streets of Washington on a killing rampage! This comedy/horror/political satire is also a ‘green movie,’ created entirely out of recycled stock and public domain film footage culled from over one hundred grainy government instructional shorts, classroom education movies, vintage stag reels and features that have fallen out of copyright as well as from the favor of the public

REVIEW:

From the first nearly unwatchable moments of “President Wolfman,” I was transported back to my early teens, when I’d first begun my journey into the magical¬†realm of Movies Nobody Else Has Ever Seen¬†and Probably Never Will.¬† During these early years of reckless film watching experimentation (how I wish it had been drugs and/or sex instead), a friend introduced me to an oddity entitled “A Man Called . . . Rainbo,” a 1990 direct-to-video re-dubbing of an awful Sylvester Stallone flick from 1970, “No Place to Hide.”¬† Utilizing that dated and obviously out-of-copyright forgotten stinker¬†while incorporating other public domain and stock footage into the editing process, the creators had done something I had, indeed, never experienced before.¬† We laughed from start to finish at the sheer audacity of the venture, and even tried our hands at replicating the same giddy vibe by recording an old Godzilla flick off the television onto a blank video cassete (our version of Tivo in the days of yore), then inscribing our voices¬†to a tape recorder.

Our goal was to play both simultaneously with the TV muted¬†for a group of what we were certain to be delighted and impressed fans.¬† I believe my recorder ate our only tape,¬†thus we had to scrap¬†the project before it ever saw fruition.¬† Or, we watched “Tetsuo: The Iron Man,” and decided we wanted to¬†filch that film’s themes for our own personal gain.¬† Or, we discovered girls.¬† Whatever the¬†motive happened to be, we were wise in¬†abandoning the fleeting dream.

As brilliant as we’d considered the¬†gimmick at the time, the unofficially entitled “green films”¬†movement never really caught fire.¬† The closest entity in spirit would be “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” which if you happen to be unfamiliar with, dear reader, then I refuse to extend you the courtesy of an explanation, and in fact request that you leave this website forever.¬† You read correctly, you’re banned.¬† “MST3K,” however, poked daft fun at their unwitting¬†celluloid victims whilst leaving the piece predominantly intact, sound and all.¬† Though I admittedly would most likely find “A Man Called . . . Rainbo” insufferable twenty years after that initial youthful viewing, I could give it the one adulation that it still remained a unique moviephile moment in my existence.¬† Until, unfortunately,¬†today.

President Wolfman” (Didn’t think I would¬†ever get around to the actual review, did you?) takes precisely the same green film¬†concept and fails miserably in both¬†approach and execution.¬† Like the other previously mentioned entry in this underpopulated¬†genre,¬†it blends stock footage (in this case,¬†old educational¬†reels and stag films) with a long-forgotten obscurity¬†that serves as basis for the brunt of the action.¬† It took me nearly as long as the movie’s runtime of 80 minutes and no shortage of Internet savvy to hunt down the core film, a 1973 potboiler starring Dean Stockwell called “The Werewolf of Washington.”¬† Unlike “Rainbo”, which turned the meandering hippie theme of its source into a wacky government conspiracy involving World War III, radioactive dog¬†feces and the worst Nixon impersonator since Rich Little, “President Wolfman” plods along in uninspired banality.¬† It merely regurgitates the exact plot of “The Werewolf of Washington,” incorporating footage of topless dancers and pot-smoking teens for no apparent reason other than to lay claim to the hyperbole of originality.

The overdubbed deliveries are equally feeble, substituting vulgarity and drug references for humor.¬† Two African-American characters are voiced by obviously white people doing their best jive impressions, which would be racist and unsettling even if it was the¬†scarcest bit funny.¬† The one standout in this motley crew of “actors”, and the only vocal talent I will¬†bestow the honor of mentioning here, is Ashley Ann, who articulates the role of President Wolfman’s son Bobby with a hilarious, self-aware zeal that only a woman laying tonality to a young boy can accomplish.

In spite of myself, I did find myself¬†charmed by “President Wolfman” on a few sporadic occasions.¬† Writer/Director Mike Davis, who had proven himself a witty and subversive talent with the little-known cult gem “Pervert!” in 2005, throws a heaping handful of spagetti at¬†the proverbial wall here, and of course a sparce dollop of noodles sticks.¬† This is merely the theory of one thousand monkeys at one thousand typewriters inadvertantly crafting a masterpiece, though.¬†¬†It reminds one of¬†a classic scene from “The Simpsons”, in which Mr. Burns recreates that said scenerio within his labyrinthian mansion, only to berate one of the enslaved primates for¬†producing the opening line, “It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times.”¬† In other words, a failure.

I still hold firm to the ideal that a fledgling filmmaker could splice together something wonderful and subversive in this virtually untapped medium, but “President Wolfman” is certainly not the way to turn that conceit into reality.¬† In that air of good sportmanship, and the nostalgia it forced upon my memory, I’ll be more fair than the film deserves in my final grade.¬† Actually, I now have the unbending urge to track down “Tetsuo: The Iron Man” again, if not “A Man Called . . . Rainbo.”¬† Some things, like most vague and fond recollections,¬†are better left as they were.

GRADE: D

President Wolfman (2012)

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About Rob Getz

Rob Getz was born poor and ugly in rural Michigan to a horror fanatic father and an incredibly good sport of a mother. He and his younger siblings spent countless weekend evenings ushered off in their pajamas by their parents to a local drive-in movie theater, where they were assured to be completely unconscious before the opening credits of the second film were finished rolling. Rob vaguely recalls these blurred images launching such classics as Ridley Scott's "Alien" and "The Changeling" through drooping eyelids. As he became older, he took the initiative nobody else in the Getz household had the moxie nor the energy to attempt and learned how to program their antiquated V.C.R. to record heavily edited horror films from one of the four available channels. Without these nocturnal bootlegs, there would have been no youthful introduction to the likes of "Re-Animator" or "Eraserhead." Rob wanted to be a part of this twisted universe from those days forward, regardless of the role he played. The tiniest, most insignificant cog in a machine is truly happy if it adores the machine. Even a critic.

3 Responses to Film Review: President Wolfman (2012)

  1. Steve says:

    Great information. Lucky me I came across your website by accident (stumbleupon).
    I’ve book-marked it for later!

    • Rob Getz says:

      My babble’s a’ight, but everything else here is good stuff. Glad you stumbled upon us!

  2. Mike says:

    Hi Rob, thanks for checking out this movie. I made President Wolfman and never heard of My Name is Rainbo, so I went and checked it out. I appreciated the flick and thought, if anything, if you like My Name is Rainbo, you will certainly like President Wolfman. As you probably found out, it takes a lot of work to put together a ‘recycled’ movie and I give credit to anyone who does it. My hope is that other filmmakers will be inspired to go and make green movies of their own using the same techniques and footage that is available to everyone to use for free. That’s the spirit I made the movie in, and I hope to keep improving with each effort.

    I also want to clarify that the storyline of President Wolfman is completely different from Werewolf of Washington. In that movie, the President is not a werewolf, China is not taking over the United States, the President’s eight year old son is not kidnapped or even in existence, the Miss America Junior Miss pageant is not happening simultaneously, and Smokey the Bear does not die in the end.

    I swear I am not in the habit of responding to reviews and I would never ask you to change yours. But since this one seemed oddly personal, I thought I should reply, personally. The DVD of President Wolfman is available now wherever DVDs are still sold.

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