Universal’s Wolfman* panel had three great guests — Rick Baker, Benicio del Toro and a rather stoned-looking Emily Blunt — and several revelations. In addition to the first public presentation of footage from the film, detailed below, there were other notes about the project. Paramount among them, and certainly the most disappointing, was the note that we won’t see a classic American Werewolf In London-style transformation. Rick Baker doesn’t know what we’re going to see as Benicio becomes the wolfman, but it will likely be CGI.
Now, I just finished a roundtable with Baker where he talked about the transformations, saying in part that they didn’t have as far to go in this movie as he did in American Werewolf. That is, it’s not actor to devil dog, it’s Benicio, who already looks like the wolfman, taking the relatively short trip to becoming a very classic Universal wolfman. So the process didn’t have to be as elaborate. Regardless, Baker doesn’t seem happy about the CGI; more on that to come.
Another note: Benicio, as we knew to some extent, is evidently a huge fan of the classic films. He watched the original a couple of times while making this movie, which is a departure from the current trend where those remaking a film try to distance themselves as much as possible from the original(s).
The most obvious difference this time is gore. We see a decent amount in the ‘trailer’ (this would definitely be a red band clip is released as is) and may see more in the movie, according to Baker. For his part, Baker isn’t thrilled about the amount of gore, which will be discussed in the interview I’ll run in a while.
And then the trailer:
The footage begins with a man in a forest taking a shot to the gut, dropping his lantern in shock. Cut to him lying on the ground and a massive wolf man foot steps into frame. Voiceover starts to tell some backstory as we see village scenes to bring up a level of uneasy atmosphere. If that’s not enough, there’s a flash cut of a the first guy torn in half with guts spilling out. A lot of guts. “25 years ago my father found him,” goes the voiceover. “It was big, had claws, and buckshot couldn’t kill it,” and then we hear and see silver bullets being cast to fend off the beast. Cast introductions ensue — Benicio del Toro, Emily Blunt, Hugo Weaving and Anthony Hopkins. As Benicio comes into the picture the pace starts to quicken. Bloody Benicio is stunning, especially when he growls “I will kill ALL of you!” but what really stands out is the old-school look, even with a new layer of gore thrown in. The loping, bent wolfman — very much a wolf MAN — on a moor against a big moon, the long nails and the corona of hair very much in the Lon Chaney Jr style against Benicio’s face.
Gore aside, this looks like the most classic among all the horror remakes/reboots we’ve seen in the past decade. The feel of this footage falls squarely between Universal and Hammer, which is an interesting place to be.
*We’ve seen the title as The Wolf Man so far, but the text on the pseudo trailer shown today was all one word, and Universal is going with the one-word title.