Werewolf by Night
Once again it’s been a bit since I added something here but I managed to watch the first Marvel Special Presentation on Disney+ and while it’s only 55 minutes long, at this point I’m considering it a TV movie rather than a TV episode as there are likely more of these special presentations coming. As long as they’re longer than 40 minutes, I will likely continue to include them here as long as my subscription to Disney+ holds. This is the directorial debut of Michael Giacchino and he really comes out swinging with a visually interesting look and the MCU introductions of several lesser known characters. The mostly black and white with splashes of color really give this “special presentation” a different feel along with an excuse to add some additional gore that wouldn’t have been allowed in full color. Overall, I really enjoyed it though since this is a new release here’s my obligatory warning for spoilers ahead.
The first thing that has to be mentioned about this movie is the style. It is really going for an homage to the classic Universal Monster horror movies with the black and white and occasional over-acting. There are bits of color, mainly the red glow from the Bloodstone and the ending does come back into full color for the denouement. The music is also just as excellent as would be expected from a noted composer as director. It never detracts from the action, it always augments it and the classic choice for Somewhere Over the Rainbow for the switch to color was a lot of fun. The black and white also helped accentuate the gore in some cases, one of the best scenes was when the titular werewolf goes on a killing spree in a small room while the camera stays mostly motionless in the distance with blood spatters partially obscuring the view.
The characters chosen for the special were mostly unknown or under-known. This is the first major appearance of Elsa Bloodstone and the character as presented was fun. She’s a reluctant monster hunter from a well-known monster hunter family and while she eschews her family’s cult-like ways she does want her birthright of this magical artifact called a Bloodstone. The special doesn’t fully go into what the stone’s powers are though it reacts violently towards “monsters”, can reveal hidden monsters’ true forms, and grants the human wielder long life. Jack Russell is the other character not presented as villainous in this special, he’s first introduced as another hunter vying for the Bloodstone until it’s revealed that he is a werewolf while also being in league with Man-Thing who is the monster recruited as the prey for this entire hunter event.
While Man-Thing is a very minor aspect of this special, it’s worth spending a little time talking about him. For one, he was created with mostly costumed effects with some CGI enhancement which looks fantastic both in black and white and in color. And despite his limited screen time, he’s a much more interesting character here than he was in the awful live action film pre-MCU. He’s never even referred to as “Man-Thing”, instead merely “Ted” and somehow Jack Russell is able to communicate with him in a similar manner as Rocket and Groot or Han and Chewie.
The action in the special is surprisingly gory but entertaining. We get to see a severed arm, and the mounted crossbow on that severed arm used shortly afterwards. There’s an axe to the face, and the hallway scene with plenty of blood spatter combined with the ticking clock of the closing door at the end. The overall setup is rather slow as the titular werewolf doesn’t show up until the special is more than halfway over. But the tension building and mood throughout is palpable. The one slight downside is that Elsa doesn’t get a whole lot of character development, only a couple nice moments with her innovative escape from the tomb and her lackadaisical attitude at the end of the bloodbath. It’s a fun special and an excuse to do something different with Marvel characters that’s more substantial than the One Shots they were doing on the Phase One DVDs. There’s already a very fun trailer for the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special and tons of rumors about various other Marvel characters getting their own Special Presentations. I, for one, am looking forward to them. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.