A scary Tuesday night at the movies

*  The rep of PG-rated horror these days couldn’t be much worse. So, I have no problem believing CHUDster Devin Faraci that a publicist sent out a blast e-mail crowing about the R-rating given to “The Wolf Man” for “‘bloody horror, violence and gore.”

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I’m excited enough about what appears to be a nicely movie-movie stylized general approach to the movie from director Joe Johnston, of the underrated “The Rocketeer” among other movies, to still be looking forward to seeing this, I think. Moreover, I am a fan of the fairly sanguinary (and, to me, truly freaking scary in more or less the best way possible) “An American Werewolf in London,” but I’m still a bit nonplussed. I realize I’m a bit of wuss about too much gore, certainly compared to the typical horror fan.

Nevertheless, I can’t help finding the attitude of AICN’s Quint a little Stephen Colbertesque in its equation of blood and gore to “nards” (Colbert would just come right out and call it “balls”). I also think making a tough, scary film really doesn’t have that much to do with how much colored corn syrup you throw around. But then who listens to a guy who likes musicals?

* The most disconcerting news about “The Wolf Man” is not the above, but the news last month about the decision to apparently drop a mostly completed score by Danny Elfman. Yesterday, Jon Burlingame of Variety wrote an even more disconcerting piece arguing that film composers are being devalued. Here’s the article ending quote from respected composer James Horner (not my personal favorite, as it happens, though he’s certainly worked on plenty of good movies and I’m perhaps not giving him enough credit):

“No one just says, ‘What do you think of my picture? I want you to write what’s in your heart.’ I haven’t heard that in years. That simple concept does not exist anymore.”

Michael Stuhlberg in Apparently, though, it does for some composers, when they’re working with really good directors. Michael Stuhlberg’s interview with Anne Thompson a while back indicates the Carter Burwell’s music may have changed the tone of Coen Brothers’ “A Serious Man” considerably and that he was given considerable latitude. Real filmmakers apparently still realize that musical choices — when and how to use it, or not use it —  are absolutely crucial.

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“The Wolf Man” trailer

A really strong trailer has just come out on what looks like a fairly loose remake of the 1941 Universal monster/horror classic which originally starred Claude Reins and, in the title role, Lon Chaney, Jr. The new version has Benecio del Toro as the unfortunate Lawrence Talbot and Anthony Hopkins as his concerned pop, as well as Emily Blunt and Hugo Weaving.

All I can say is that this version looks top notch. I thought director Joe Johnston’s “The Rocketeer” was very fun and pretty underrated, and this looks to have the potential to be even better. One thing’s for sure, considering the best known movie wolf men so far have been ex-Dr. Pepper song-and-dance guy David Naughton (“An American Werewolf in London”) and Chaney, Jr., who had some moments but was not nearly the actor his legendary dad was, it’s safe to say that del Toro will be by far the best actor to inhabit’s the wolf man’s hairy skin. Check it out.

And remember….

Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night,
May become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.

  

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