The Wolfman, starring Benecio del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Hugo Weaving and Emily Blunt, is a remake of George Waggner and the German émigré writer-director Curt Siodmak’s 1941 B-picture The Wolf Man. Although all three actors deliver wonderful performances—indeed, Weaving nearly steals the show as Scotland Yard Chief Inspector Abberline—the new film replaces the eerie, noirish atmosphere of the 69-minute original with gratuitous decapitation, gory set-pieces and bloody spectacle stretched across more than 100 minutes—and instead of the mild-mannered Sir John Talbot played in the original by Claude Rains, the character is a poetry-spouting, mentally frail old man played by an only-half-there Hopkins, who you can see almost laugh at the ridiculousness of most of his flowery lines. To boot, he gets around in a bizarrely ostentatious leopard-print housecoat: the sort of violently flamboyant couture of which Vincent Price or Liberace would be proud.
Originally planned for release in November last year, the film had a troubled, storied production history: Joe Johnson, a director who began his career working on Star Wars miniatures, but who is probably best known for Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and the third and worst film in the Jurassic Park franchise—and, if he gets his way, the next three as well—took on the project after music-video and One-Hour Photo director Mark Romanek left, citing, apparently, “creative differences”. Legendary editor Walter Murch was bought in to re-cut the film at the last minute, and toward the end of production it was even supposed that there were two competing edits being constructed simultaneously. Danny Elfman’s score is remarkably uninteresting and forgettable, but it’s miles better than Paul Haslinger’s hideous post-rock ejaculation, commissioned after Elfman’s music was removed from the film. Thankfully Elfman’s score was reinstated—watching the film accompanied by Foo Fighters-esque rock would have been arduous. But there’s a bright side, kind of: a throwback ‘sequel’ is being made—not to the new film, but to the 1941 picture, and in keeping with the spirit and light-heartedness of the original, Eben McGar’s House of the Wolf Man will be shot in full-frame black and white, with a mono soundtrack.
So instead of seeing the remake, watch (or revisit) the glories of the original—or just see Warren Zevon doing an incredible version of “Werewolves of London,” live in NJ in 1982: