Written by: Bannister Bergen and Lowell Dean
Directed by: Lowell Dean
Starring: Leo Fafard, Amy Matysio, and Jonathan Cherry
Reviewed by: Brett Gallman
Here comes the fuzz!
In a world where Sharknado has bellowed into the mainstream, just what does it mean to make an honest-to-god exploitation film anymore? With the grindhouse having been coopted into a misguided brand of “so bad it’s good” product, plenty of poseurs have emerged with “scuffed up” digital “prints” in tow and primed for audience mockery, making it sometimes difficult to sniff out the folks that still give a damn anymore. One of the best things I can say about the minds behind WolfCop is that they indeed give a damn because they realize a silly premise isn’t a license to make a terrible movie. Just because your movie is about a werewolf cop doesn’t mean it can’t be an awesome movie about a werewolf cop. There’s an actual stab at crafting real exploitation here: WolfCop is kind of gross, kind of funny, kind of smart, and the right kind of dumb all at once.
Set in a small Saskatchewan town full of yokels who enjoy their annual “Drink and Shoot” festivities, the film follows the exploits of Lou Garou (Leo Fafard), a lousy, fuck-up cop who spends most of his shifts recovering from hangovers. When a late night investigation of a disturbance in a nearby park leaves him blacked out and without memory, it seems like just another day on the job. Only this time, however, he’s starting to exhibit signs of lycanthropy, and he suddenly begins to suspect that the mutilated bodies he’s discovering are his own doing. However, rather than mope about it, he and his buddy Willie (Jonathan Cherry) decide to trick out his police car and clean up the streets when the full moon unleashes Lou’s inner beast.
Obviously, WolfCop is silly as hell and has its tongue planted firmly in its cheek. But here’s the thing—it’s not laughing at this idea and actually embraces it in the most serious way possible: WolfCop kicks total ass just long enough for you to assume this is going to be a balls-out, gore-laden cop-movie-with-a-werewolf. There’s a badass montage that segues into a completely inexplicable sex scene (with faux-80s power ballad) between Lou (in werewolf form) and a babe (Sarah Lind) who just can’t resist his charms. This is exactly what you expect something called Wolfcop to be—and then it suddenly turns on a dime to reveal some more sinister forces at work, like cults and ritual sacrifices.
Let’s just say WolfCop features an interesting take on werewolf mythology that allows it to turn Lou’s condition into a curse after all. Don’t get me wrong: it doesn’t exactly become a woe-is-me-weepfest and still features plenty of severed throats, but the film isn’t just about a crime-fighting werewolf cop (it somehow gets even better, though). It’s a welcome development in that it actually allows the film to move past its one-note joke of a concept and try its hand at fashioning a somewhat traditional werewolf tale where the afflicted looks to reverse his curse—or at least tear apart those who gave it to him in the first place. There’s actually a little bit of a story here, and I’m doubly glad to report that it doesn’t devolve into some sappy “bad, drunken cop makes good” junk: instead, Lou remains a delightfully surly louse until the end.
In fact, one of the great things about WolfCop is how its title character is consistently outshined by his female partner Tina (Amy Matysio), real badass who doesn’t need to be fuelled by the full moon in order to solve most of the department’s cases. The interplay between her and Lou is quite fun, as is the case with the rest of the film’s colorful cast of characters, like the firmly entrenched mayor (Corinne Conley) and the perpetually flabbergasted sheriff (Aidan Devine),all of whom feel more like characters and less like broad, winking caricatures. This is what the cast of a dumb B-movie is supposed to look like: committed, believable actors (not a parade of pseudo-celebrities clinging to fame like a Sharknado clings to snark).
Best of all, WolfCop isn’t afraid to be disreputable in its delivery of blood and boobs, particularly when it comes to the former. Forget cheap, CGI transformations: this one doesn’t just feature the real, practical deal—it has some of the most agonizingly gooey and goopy werewolf mutations committed to film. And if there’s any doubt just where it’s head and heart are, consider this: the first thing to go is Lou’s penis, which begins pissing blood before swelling and bursting into a giant werewolf dick. Outrageous moments like this butt up against smaller, sharper moments that point to small-town satire: this old bumpkin patch is completely set in its ways and courts the sort of hicks who cock their guns at the sight of a liberal candidate for mayor. As the town’s sordid history continues to unravel, these observations become even more biting, and it’s this mixture of gallows humor and a touch of smarts that clinches WolfCop’s place in the grindhouse canon.
Imitators take note: this is how it’s done; sure, you’ll find yourself howling at WolfCop, but the laughs are actually earned through situational humor and a knowing, cop-movie verve (one of the film’s biggest laughs comes from a climactic one-liner you could imagine Schwarzenegger delivering years ago). Director Lowell Dean and company haven’t just dreamed up a dumb premise and expect you to provide all the laughs—instead, they’ve provided a reasonably well-made, funny movie that eats flesh and craps thunder with the best of them. A recurring gag involves a local establishment called Liquor Donuts, whose slogan (“What More Could You Ask For?”) seemingly acknowledges this recent rash of brain-dead mash-ups. The trick here is that WolfCop isn’t content to exist and ask the same question: while it’s bad form to announce yourself as a new cult classic, it proceeds with the swagger and confidence of a movie that knows its place in the tradition. You could easily imagine this one resting on a video store shelf beside the likes of Samurai Cop, Psycho Cop, and other assorted weirdo-cop movies decades ago. There might be multiple Sharknados, but there’s only one WolfCop. Buy it!
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