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Fox Home Entertainment presents
Darkwolf (2003)

"This is the real world. Things go on out here you've never heard of. Things you can't explain."
- Turley (Ryan Alosio)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: April 14, 2003

Stars: Samaire Armstrong, Ryan Alosio
Other Stars: Andrea Bogart, Jaime Bergman, Alexis Cruz, Aaron Van Wagner, Sasha Williams, Kane Hodder, Steven Williams, Tippi Hedren, Rick McCallum
Director: Richard Friedman

MPAA Rating: R for violence/gore, sexuality/nudity and language
Run Time: 01h:33m:52s
Release Date: April 15, 2003
UPC: 024543070733
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C+ C+B-B C+

DVD Review

Darkwolf tries to put a slightly new spin on the werewolf genre, and works to spice things up a bit by throwing in plenty of bare breasts, too. The premise in this modern-day tale, set in L.A., is that werewolves exist, but the race has been tainted by the dreaded hybrid werewolf. The hybrids came to be when a Saxon knight mated with a werewolf 900 years ago, and over the centuries this mixed breed has sought out a "matriarch" to breed with. Sure, makes sense to me.

The hero in this one is spiky-haired detective Turley (Ryan Alosio), who is part of a specialized police squad relegated with tracking down the dangerous hybrids. When Turley and his partner Hartigan (Steven Williams) take part in a werewolf arrest that goes horribly awry in the film's opening sequence, it becomes clear that they are dealing with no ordinary hybrid. Ordinary hybrid? Hell no, why that's Darkwolf himself, who is played in human form by Kane Hodder (best known as the man who was Jason Voorhees).

A well-kept bag lady named Mary (Tippi Hedren, looking absolutely radiant, in truly the oddest bit of casting I've seen in awhile) quickly reveals herself to be something known as a "Protector," and she blathers on a bit about destiny and prophecy, and lugs around a huge leather-bound book full of werewolf lore. Hedren's Mary provides the necessary expository chunk of dialogue to explain what DarkWolf wants, and most importantly, who he is after.

Before you can say "predictable untimely death," Turley finds himself protecting cute waitress Josie (Samaire Armstrong), who has been plagued by such unusual problems as glowing red eyes and partial werewolf transformations. Keeping her one step ahead of the horny DarkWolf proves troublesome for Turley, and even more troublesome for anyone who has come in contact with Josie.

Director Richard Friedman hasn't particularly reinvented the genre with Darkwolf, but he has made a dumb, yet tolerably entertaining (if you like bad movies, that is) werewolf flick. In fact, there were moments when the whole thing seemed like an extended episode of some new WB "good-looking people vs monsters" show. The transformation, long the money shot of any human-to-wolf feature, doesn't really pay off here, unfortunately. Looking more like something out of a cut-rate video game, the effects are a little on the cheesy side, and I was somewhat surprised at how long Friedman lingered on them. He mixes CG and live-action for shots of the transformed creature, and those sequences look substantially better, and far more fluid, than the actual on-screen change from man to beast.

Darkwolf is aimed ostensibly at the loins of the male demographic, and Friedman nurtures that by staging the film's opening moments in a strip club, and later caps it off with a prolonged, nude lesbian dance sequence that serves less to advance the story than it does to display the bodies of Sasha Williams and Andrea Bogart.

And, yes, it did help me take my mind off the transformations.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Darkwolf is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen on this dual-layered disc. Colors and fleshtones look pretty natural, and black levels, while not exceptionally solid, are more than fair. Overall this is not a bad looking B-movie transfer, though some of the scenes that employ a red filter for the DarkWolf P.O.V. reveals some intermittent grain. The print appears to be free of any noticeable physical flaws.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
English, Spanishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Good news comes via the audio transfer, which is a decent little 5.1 Dolby Digital track full of the usual batch of spooky movie musical stingers and growling werewolves. The .LFE isn't as pronounced as it could have been, but the overall mix is solid and shows a little spatial depth with some directional imaging spread across the front channels. Rears come to life sporadically, more so than do comparable low-budget horror flicks. Dialogue is very clean, and anchored in the center channel predominantly.

A Spanish 5.1 track is also included.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring From Hell, The Fury, The Omen, Phantom of the Paradise
1 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: 20th Century Fox has tossed in a couple of inconsequential supplemental pieces, the first of which is Darkwolf: A New Breed (17m:41s). This is your typical making-of promotional featurette, showcasing director Friedman and most of the principal cast chit-chatting. No real insight is offered, and most of the comments are of the usual happy-crappy variety, though there are a few behind-the-scenes shots of the creature that are kind of humorous. The other short is a Gag Reel (07m:23s), which is another word for bloopers, so if the thought of actors flubbing their lines is funny, then this will kill. Otherwise: zzzzzzzz.

The disc is cut into 16 chapters, and features subtitles in English, French, and Spanish.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

Darkwolf isn't a great film by any means, but it is a satisfactory bit of lightweight B-movie fluff that is titillating, silly and apparently set in a world where there are no unattractive people; even the bag ladies look like Tippi Hedren.

Worth a rental for werewolf buffs.

 


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