Halloween Horrors 50 for 31: Werewolf of Washington

October 12, 2011 at 2:51 am Leave a comment

Satire. Trechant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose or discredit vise or folly. Another definition is NOT Werewolf of Washington. Every positive review I have seen of this movie praises its biting satire on the Nixon administration. More accurately, they take shallow pot shots at former President Nixon. They create this straw man character but they don’t really do anything with him. A satire, by the very definition, should say something. They reference certain character traits of Richard Nixon but that’s hardly a satire. For example, did you know that President Nixon put a bowling alley in the White House? They use this in the movie for a scene in which Jack Whittier, the President’s Press Secretary and our Werewolf, bowls with the President and gets his hand stuck in a bowling ball. You see, he kind of turned into a Werewolf even though it was not night yet. I guess on the day it’s going to be a full moon he swells up. Where is the satire?  The man likes bowling and his Press Secretary is a werewolf. Satire!

Jack Whittier is the White House Press Secretary and for some reason starts the movie in Hungary. Why? It’s not clear but it seems like he is cheating on the Presidents daughter or something. Anyway, he gets in a fight with a Werewolf and becomes a Werewolf himself. Jack Whittier is played by Dean Stockwell, who you may remember as Al from Quantum Leap. He does seem to do what he can with the role through subtle body language. The previously mentioned bowling ball scene has some humorous elements, even if it doesn’t qualify as satire. The President is played by Biff McGuire. He has some Nixon like body language but is thoroughly washed in the role. The script and filmmaking really doesn’t help the talent in this movie.

Jack gets back to Washington. The President wants someone for the Supreme Court but the guys wife is a bit of a problem. Jack’s job is to keep her in the background until the candidate gets on the court. Well, he turns into a Werewolf and kills her. He stuffs her body in a grocery cart next to boxes of cereal. Cereal Killer, get it! That’s a pun, not satire. And what does it have to do with the Nixon administration. So apparently it is the job of the White House Press Secretary and Attorney General to investigate murders in Washington DC. They ask a black couple who witnesses the crime a few questions. The Attorney General is incredibly racist and wants to arrest the couple or blame the Black Panthers for the murder. Does the Press Secretary really have powers to arrest people or question witnesses? I don’t think either of these offices have any authority over local crimes and the black couple probably should have told them to just piss off. They are attacked later by the Werewolf for some reason. That’s exploitation, not satire.

Throughout the movie, Jack tries to tell everyone he is a killer Werewolf but no one believes him. The funny thing is he only confesses to people within the White House. Why doesn’t he try telling the police! They don’t really have any leads on the string of maulings in DC. In fact, we don’t see the police once in this movie. Apparently, murder investigations are all the jurisdiction of the  White House. The story gets murky from here. What it amounts to is Jack turns into a werewolf, kills someone, confesses, no one believes him. Repeat. The only person he doesn’t kill is a little person called Dr. Kiss. I think he is suppose to represent Henry Kissenger but he doesn’t represent Henry Kissenger in anyway other than the name. Still, it’s a really weird scene where Jack licks his face and Dr. Kiss treats him like a puppy. That is his only role in the film. How is that satire? What are they trying to say about Henry Kissenger? He’s a little person who likes dogs? Satire needs meaning and this is meaningless.

The stirring conclusion features Jack stuck in a helicopter with the President and Chinese Prime Minister. While the President tries to explain how the press conference is going to go, because everything in this bizarro world revolves around the press, the Chinese Prime Minister watches Jack turn into a Werewolf. The President is completely oblivious to all of this. Because apparently, according to the film makers, Nixon was not very observant. One of the most calculating and paranoid politicians of his time who resigned in disgrace for allegedly spying on his political enemies is being teased not being observant. These people don’t even know what they are making fun of. So the Werewolf goes after the President and if this was anything close to reality, he would be stomped into pudding by the Secret Service. But according to this movie, he gets mauled by the Werewolf, goes so far as to wrestle him on the White House lawn while the press gather around watching. Jack runs back to his room at the Watergate and gets shot with a silver bullet by the President’s daughter. Thankfully, this dog is put down and we are given the line”They won’t have Jack Whittier to kick around anymore.” Except he was never really kicked around in the first place. He was an unassuming Press Secretary who was constantly on edge because he knew he was a killer Werewolf  but no one believed him. That’s nonsense, not satire.

As for how this film was made, it’s a mess. A lot of his film is dark as midnight. It’s not that hard to tell what is going on but it was obviously done to cover up some of the budget constraints. Most of the audio is completely unintelligible. The scenes they do bother to light are ugly and hard to look at, with one scene having multiple changes in color temperature due to a television that was on in the room at the same time.  The Werewolf transitions are done in the same way as the old 1930’s Lon Cheney Jr Wolfman movies. They take so long that it feels like 1/4 of the film is taken up watching Jack turn into a Werewolf.

I can’t recommend this movie at all. As a horror movie, it just doesn’t work. As a satire, it has nothing to say about the subject its suppose to be poke fun at. There is no statement made about the Nixon Administration. It’s just a string of references, most of which are inaccurate. The story makes no sense. The weak script and lack of film making talent wastes the talent of the actors in front of the camera whom deserved a better effort from the people behind the camera. It’s a disgrace, not a satire.

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Entry filed under: Comedy, Horror. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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