Saturday, October 20, 2012

I Want to Give a Full Moon to Full Moon: "The Werewolf Reborn!" (1998)



Charles Band of Full Moon Entertainment creates and executive produces the second of a proposed series of twelve films resurrecting great monsters of the past. The films were so bad, he only was able to get two made.

With a story that is a carbon copy of "Frankenstein Reborn," young and cute Eleanor (Ashley Cafagna) goes to Romania to visit her Uncle Peter (Robin Downes) while her parents are at a diplomatic conference. Everyone in the village hates Peter. Eleanor finds out it is because he turns into a werewolf every time the poorly rendered moon special effect is full. The villagers, led by Inspector Krol (Len Lesser), finally arrest Peter and toss him in jail, despite Eleanor's warnings that Peter will change again. A local gypsy boy (Bogdan Cambera) and his grandmother (Lucia Maier) get Eleanor the much needed gun and silver bullets, but Eleanor cannot bring herself to shoot her uncle.

As with "Frankenstein Reborn," "The Werewolf Reborn" has an "approximate" running time on the video cassette of seventy minutes. This running time includes previews for other films I hope I never run across at the video store, plus a "making of" documentary for both films. Take these padding extras away and the film runs less than an hour.

Charles Band wanted to create a new film series along the lines of "Goosebumps," and commissioned screenplays. This film sucks. Jeff Burr is a genre director who has done good work in the past, but here I firmly believe he was given a buck fifty and a day and night to shoot this thing. Burr tries to make things interesting, but overuses shots involving mirrors (you see? werewolves are like dual personalities! brilliant!), and I even saw a boom microphone in one jail scene.

The cast, for what it is worth, is okay. Cafagna can cry at all the right times. Downes growls at all the right times. Len Lesser reminds you that he played Uncle Leon on "Seinfeld" at all the wrong times. I kept waiting for him to say "hel-lo!" instead of shooting at the lycanthrope.

The screenplay is a joke. Written by Benjamin Carr, it dumbs down the werewolf story for kids. The band of angry villagers see the werewolf kill in the night, yet still do not believe Eleanor's warnings that her uncle is going to change! If they do not believe her, then why does everyone hate Peter! Krol even blames Eleanor's predictions on too much television! Do you remember "The Naked Gun"? In one funny fight scene, a pillow is thrown at Frank Drebin, and Leslie Nielsen wrestles with it like his life depended on it. Well, here, werewolf Peter has a blanket thrown over his head, and wrestles with it long enough for Eleanor to get away.

Don't worry, I have not spoiled the film for you. The fact that Peter is the werewolf is no secret. This film is so brief there are no mysteries, or laughs, or suspense, or gore, or good things.

"The Werewolf Reborn!" is another victim of Full Moon Entertainment's backward film making. The company gets an original idea from Band, comes up with cool posters, schedules to shoot everything at its studio in Romania, then shirks the viewer when it comes to the screenplay and direction. On the video copy I saw, the previews were advertising toys from the "Puppet Master" series. Here's a crazy idea, Mr. Band, put the toys away and shoot a decent flick. Forget the comic book tie-ins and spend that money on a decent director. Save the money from the proposed "Filmonsters!" series opener, which embarrassingly features a dozen monsters' names whose films would never come, and put the money into special effects.

Full Moon Entertainment used to put out goofy but sometimes entertaining straight to video stuff, but Band bit off more than he could chew. (*) out of five stars. Get this movie now!: Werewolf Reborn!