Wolf Lake

The Chiller channel is running werewolf shows and flicks every night this week, and tonight they’re showing episodes of the Wolf Lake television series. It ran for one season in 2002, though it feels like it’s been a lot longer than that.

To be honest, I hardly remember the show. I don’t think I kept up with it when it aired, and to watch it now, I’m seeing melodrama, cheesy effects, and half-assed makeup.

Oh, and two transformations in two episodes I just watched, neither of which we got to see.

No wonder the show didn’t last. It makes me wonder, why is it so hard to get werewolves right in film and television? There’s a lot of love out there for the werewolf. They may not have the same popularity as vampires and zombies right now, but they’re a good monster and should be able to carry their own weight.

Unfortunately for every good flick like Dog Soldiers we get a stinker like Skinwalkers. An American Werewolf in London is a classic, but its memory is tarnished by the An American Werewolf in Paris follow-up and it’s horrible CGI werewolves. Fans get excited after seeing werewolves paired with vampires in the Underworld and Twilight flicks and Van Helsing, but then the Wolfman remake tanks and ruins all hope.

Several readers of The Pack: Winter Kill tell me they saw it as a movie while they read it, and I do hope someone in Hollywood will agree. But the question is, would it make it to the screen unscathed? There are several werewolf books out there, both stand-alone and series work, that are at least as suited for adaptation, but they’ll be overlooked because they don’t have vampires or whiny teenagers in them.

I don’t know. I can’t tell whether they’re trying too hard or they’re not trying hard enough. Whether they’re making changes for the sake of change or assuming a glimpse of an actor in a furry costume and a splash of CGI blood is all fans will care about.

Whatever the problem, Wolf Lake really had a shot at starting a werewolf craze. Big screen love helps, but it’s still hard to compete with the exposure of showing up on millions of televisions every week. When you’re on a major network to boot (CBS in chis case), it becomes a big ball to drop.

Here’s hoping the next attempt plays out a little better.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

4 comments

  1. BlaqueSaber says:

    Nice article.
    You didn’t mention the 80s television series WAREWOLF with Chuck Connors, I thought they did a pretty good job with it in the beginning…

    • Mike says:

      I thought about it, but that show is mostly a vague memory for me. I was young when I came out, and I remember liking it, but I’d have to watch it again to see if it holds up.

  2. I think why werewolves can’t work on television is because they’re simply too expensive. Any “transformation” scenes quickly become cost prohibitive. If you’re doing it for one episode, sure. Doctor Who did a pretty impressive CGI werewolf, and Buffy had one (not Oz, the other one). On a week-to-week basis, that would eat your budget. The show Being Human has a werewolf character — and an impressive one at that — but they keep his wolf persona in off screen a lot. It’s actually quite effective.

    On the other hand, if you don’t have the money to pull off a werewolf *right*, don’t bother with it. If you half-ass it, you wind up with a laughable monster (see Supernatural).

    Movies are a different ballgame, of course.

    • Mike says:

      Not a bad theory at all.

      I think a simple look could be pulled off, something like Wolf with Nicholson and Spader, but they’d really have to back it with strong writing.