The wolfman is a legendary monster cursed to take itself too seriously during a 'New Moon.'

Just The Facts

  1. To transform into the hirsute wolfman, actor Benicio del Toro had to sit still two hours each day while makeup artists shaved him.
  2. So respectful of the original "Wolfman" is this remake, it spent $3 million recreating the 1941 film's vision of a man wearing $15 worth of makeup.
  3. Ray Liotta eating a rare steak looks more lupine than this.

All that makeup...

The people behind The Wolfman obviously worked hard to put out quality product--

Mostly, anyway

--a solid cast, nice production values and Rick Baker's doing the makeup. Based on the trailer the only things they forgot were the werewolf and the story. If I had to choose between this movie and televised golf, I'd watch the emergency broadcast system.

There are only two explanations for looking this silly, and they both involve letting other people do the thinking: either someone made an homage to Lon Chaney out of cut-up carpet and a glue gun, or American Apparel is doing makeup now.

Vampires are all over TV and film, because the only makeup they require is a pair of dentures. You can save even more money crafting your soulless monster's look by casting a British guy. Werewolves, on the other hand, require a lot of fur, so you'd better do it right. And if you're going to do it wrong, then fail on the cheap.

When Lon Chaney Jr. played the wolfman, they covered his face in yak hair. Unless you have a good source in the Tibetan black market, that's almost impossible to find. You'd have an easier time getting Megan Fox's pubic trimmings.

And they still might not want to hire you.

No matter what material you use, it takes a lot of time and money -- not to apply the makeup, but for the actor's seven-figure paycheck to clear while he gives interviews about how hard it was to show up at 5 a.m. and doze in a recliner till the makeup's applied. Then you lose the coveted Baltimore longshoreman demographic, because they're busy, you know, fucking working. You're better off casting a guy with hypertrichosis, or a Portuguese woman.

Or take a page from the first terrific werewolf horror film, Dog Soldiers. Even though its costumes were 2/3 body stocking and 1/3 college mascot, the werewolves were so bad-ass the film had to replace a promiscuous teenager running through the forest with an S.A.S. team just to reach feature length.

Thanks to Dog Soldiers, there can be no excuse for a puppy-nosed fuzzball, even as homage to the original film. If you remade Plan 9 From Outer Space, would you include the strings on the UFOs? If you remade Birth of a Nation, would you keep the racism? If you remade Deep Throat, would you batter the actress? Whoa! Too far.

No you wouldn't, because you're trying to perfect the recipe. Just keep the good ingredients and stop stirring in ground glass.

...and no story.

I used to date a girl who lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. In my time among the hipsters I learned three things:

  1. Pabst Blue Ribbon is the beer made when Keystone Light sleeps with a bag of corn niblets to piss off its rich parents.
  2. Even hipsters hate hipsters. They fight what they are with both their strength, but in the end, nature always wins.
  3. They think tattered clothes and ungroomed facial hair are all you need in a tough neighborhood, but it's just goofy, and by the time dawn comes, somebody's dead.

I'd say the last two are also true of werewolves. The difference is more people will flee a hipster.

One reason vampires are popular is they symbolize our universal desire to be sexually harassed by a European. The entire history of vampires -- especially the last 15 years -- is about how much women want to sleep with them (and therefore men must destroy them, even if they are kind of cool). They're the Jude Law of monsters.

The Penn is mightier
And Sean Penn is the wolfman of actors.

And werewolves? Well, at any party where an actor tries to pick up your girlfriend, there's also a hairy man-child with the personality of a review making himself hard to ignore. If a vampire seduces a lady, a werewolf drunkenly forces his tongue down her throat. Go ahead, name one sexable werewolf. The guy in Wolf? A plain example of The Nicholson Rule. Twilight's Jacob? A platonic friend who got make a vampire jealous.

One time the Williamsburg girl took me to a show that was so indie you could puke. A morose sea of beer bellies and window-pane Buddy Holly glasses awaited us at the door, prompting me to yell, "WOW! I've never SEEN so many hipsters!" Each smiled, thinking I meant only the guys around him. You have to give people what they want; nobody wants a navel-gazing wolfman who learns it's best to be true to yourself.

Robin Williams did a lot of good for Christopher Reeve, though.
My point.

Werewolf films are Friday the 13th plus costly makeup, and there's a reason they never made one of those about Jason's inner struggle. The only tortured souls who hurt everyone they love and sprout hair in strange places are teenagers. That's why we already have Teen Wolf and Ginger Snaps.* Watching a man of Benicio del Toro's age re-enact puberty horror is just embarrassing. Grow up, man.

*There was also I Was a Teenage Werewolf, but it starred Michael Landon. The closest he ever came to a wild man was forgetting to say "Please" when asking a blind woman if he could read to her.

One reason hipsters love irony is it's a place to retreat from taking a position on anything. That in mind, I dare you to feel an emotion watching The Wolfman's trailer. This film wants you to be thrilled by a legend, scared of a monster, and sympathetic to a misunderstood artist. That's like a chocolate-dipped turkey filled with cottage cheese. There's no synthesis in it. Is the wolfman terrifying, tempted, or tortured? Either slit or get off the vein. Grow up and act like a man. Or a wolf. Just stop yowling about it like a cat.

Dog Soldiers was about how group dynamics can save your life or make you a monster, depending how blindly you follow. The Wolfman trailer is nearly opposite: you're so real society can't handle you! Only girlfriend and dad respect the wolfman's need to shred, so they're safe from his special specialness.

In short: The Wolfman trailer's really not about anything. It just wears the garb of vague self-loathing.

Brendan McGinley still loves ska unironically; hipsters don't even know where to begin scorning him.