Monthly Archives: September 2014

Werewolf (TV series) 1987 – 1988

wolf moon

Pilot:
“There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who believe in flying saucers and those who don’t.” The pilot of this short lived, very underrated, TV series began with narration from a bounty hunter from Brooklyn, New York, who looks and sounds a lot like a cowboy. This show is so 1980s and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

A killer is on the loose. Someone, or something, stalks potential victims in a nightclub while “Silent Running” by Mike & The Mechanics plays. On his palm is a pentagram, which bleeds. In “The Wolf Man” (1941), a pentagram marked the next victim of the werewolf, here it serves as a warning to the werewolf that the transformation will soon occur. The show is vague as to whether or not the full moon has any effect. Eric Cord (John J. York) has everything going for him. He’s in love with his best friend’s sister, Kelly (Michelle Johnson), but she’s reluctant to tell her father about their relationship.

Eric, he cruises while listening to “The Future’s So Bright (I Gotta Wear Shades)” by Timbuk 3, so you know that he’s loving life at the moment. What could possibly go wrong? Eric is roommates with said best friend, Ted (Raphael Sbarge). Ted has been disappearing every weekend, claiming to be job hunting. Eric returns home and finds his that his dog, Heathcliff, is on edge. Eric also finds Ted in the dark, acting peculiar. Ted confesses to being the serial killer, but Eric dismisses him. Ted explains that while as a dock worker in Baja, California, he was what attacked by a werewolf. He knows that he must die because he is losing his humanity and the beast within is taking over. Eric is worried, not that his friend is werewolf, but that Ted has lost his mind. Eric humors Ted and ties him up. This was also reminiscent of “The Wolf Man” and even “Monster Squad” (1987). Tying up werewolves never really works out. Eric watches over him, armed with a pistol. Ted loaded the gun with silver bullets, forged from a silver crucifix he had melted down.

After midnight, Ted transforms and breaks free from his constraints. He attacks Eric before being shot. Death frees Ted from his curse, but Eric was bitten, so now he will become a werewolf. While recovering in the hospital, Eric is tormented by nightmares, just like David Naughton in “An American Werewolf in London” (1981). He is facing murder charges. He doesn’t tell anyone that Ted was a werewolf, but does protest that he acted in self-defense. Only Kelly is willing to believe him because Ted left her a cassette tape, explaining the situation. Remember cassette tapes? Anyone? Heathcliff the dog snaps at his former master. It seems that animals can always spot a werewolf. Kelly is not wholly convinced until she locks Eric up in a self storage unit and she hears him transform. He spends the night in the unit, but the murders continue, so he deduces that the werewolf who attacked Ted must be in the area. If this alleged werewolf is the first in the bloodline, then Eric can break this curse by killing it. Every incarnation of the werewolf legend has its own variation of the rules, but I like that this series provided some hope for the protagonist. An ongoing TV series couldn’t be as bleak as most werewolf movies.

Since Eric skipped out on his court date, his bail bondsman hires a bounty hunter, Alamo Joe Rogan (Lance LeGault). Meanwhile, Eric tracks down the werewolf that attacked Ted, Captain Janos Skorzeny (Chuck Connors). A werewolf who wears an eye-patch? How freaking badass is that? Skorzeny can sense that Eric is of his bloodline and promises that tonight they will make the transformation. Skorzeny instincts are strong enough that he doesn’t need to wait for the sign of the pentagram. Eric has Kelly tie him up in a motel bathroom, which probably wouldn’t have done much good, then she is abducted by Skorzeny. Alamo Joe also arrives and takes Eric into custody. Eric’s only concern is saving Kelly. He transforms in the back of Alamo Joe’s truck and escapes. Alamo Joe shoots him several times, but not with silver bullets, so the beast isn’t even stunned. Alamo Joe will never be the same after being exposed to the supernatural.

Eric’s love for Kelly carries over into werewolf form. Skorzeny brings her to a shack in the woods, filled with rotted skulls, so this is likely where he feeds on a regular basis. Skorzeny seems to able to control his transformation and waits for Eric to arrive before he goes full-on werewolf. A fires breaks out and the two werewolves battle savagely in the flames while Kelly flees to safety. I wonder if this scene inspired the similar scene in the “The Wolfman” (2010) remake? Skorzeny throws Eric out of the burning shack and disappears. Eric wakes up the next morning and finds Kelly watching over him. He must now say goodbye to her and his life, leaving to hunt Skorzeny. Little does Eric know, but Alamo Joe is also hunting him and the bounty hunter knows to arm himself with silver bullets this time. We last see Eric hitchhiking, which calls to mind Bill Bixby on “The Incredible Hulk” (1978 – 1982). The pilot episode of “Werewolf” was a masterful way of launching a series. Heck, it could’ve have worked as a stand alone movie. “Nothing is worse than a nightmare, accept for one you can’t wake up from.”

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