dir. Adrián García Bogliano / wri. Eric Stolze (2014 95 min, Red Epic, 2.35:1)
Nick Damici, Ethan Embry, Lance Guest, Tina Louise, Erin Cummings, Tom Noonan, Larry Fessenden
Blind Vietnam vet Ambrose McKinley (Nick Damici, Stakeland) moves into a retirement community where he hopes to live out his final days. The only problem: he’s living right down the street from a vicious, bone-snapping, marrow-sucking, skin-shredding lycanthrope. This grizzled maneater has become the perfect predator over the course of its long life, but eating Ambrose’s beloved dog, Shadow, is the last mistake it’ll ever make. Now it’s finally pissed off the only human being as tough and as hard-to-kill as itself.
Creative camerawork and some fantastic prosthetic work combine
for a fairly stunning sequence the likes of which we haven’t seen in years.
Utterly unusual, totally fresh, and a really heartfelt meditation on aging
that would make a perfect double bill with Bubba Ho-Tep
Late Phases is absolutely fantastic, a refreshing addition to the werewolf genre
that not only approaches the genre with some real originality,
but also utilizes practical FX in bringing its creatures to life which is always wonderful to see these days.
The combination is a fantastic film that is easily one of the best werewolf films in ages.
Filled with great characters, black humor, and some solid werewolf action,
Late Phases is one of the better werewolf movies I’ve seen in…
well, ever, really.
Late Phases is a smart and original addition to the werewolf subgenre of horror….
Where most werewolf themed horror films focus on the wolf
or on a main characters inevitable transformation into one,
Late Phases puts its focus on our hero, Ambrose, and this is what makes the film so original.
If you are a lycanthrope lover, you’ll really like this movie.
If you like movies about strong, believable, unique characters,
you’ll really like this movie.
It gets a howling recommendation from me.
This is one of the better werewolf films to come along in a while
and will no doubt please the fans. There isn’t an overabundance of killing,
but when it is there it is graphic and well done.
This film once again proves that you can have a great story
and deliver a well done practical effects creature feature.
If you are a werewolf fan then this is a film you have to check out.
There hasn’t been a good werewolf film in some time, but director Adrian Garcia Bogliano’s chiller,
subtitled Night of the Lone Wolf, is a hands-down, claws-down winner.
A major reason is Nick Damici’s terrific turn as Ambrose McKinley, a blind, embittered
Vietnam veteran newly arrived at Crescent Bay.
Eric J. Stolze’s crisp script offers a surprising amount of character development,
elements of dark humor, and even works as a whodunit –
until Bogliano delivers a surprise reveal of the furry fiend’s true identity.
FILM SCHOOL REJECTS
Rob Hunter 11/19/2014
Another week, another handful of new films searching for a way into our eyeballs via VOD and/or a limited theatrical release. Big movies often hit VOD in the weeks before their home video release, but for the smaller films this is basically their premiere opportunity to find an audience. Such is the case with two new thrillers that approach their narratives and topics in slightly off kilter ways.
Late Phases is a creature feature — a werewolf film to be precise — and it avoids current conventions in a couple different ways. It focuses on an elderly protagonist rather than featuring a cast of attractive, young people, and it relies almost exclusively on practical effects for its bloodletting and werewolf fun. The Sleepwalker is more of an emotional thriller than one based on action as it follows a pair of somewhat estranged sisters, their respective boyfriends and a family secret that threatens to derail them all.
Ambrose (Nick Damici) is a blind Vietnam veteran who we first meet while shopping for his own headstone. It seemed appropriate as he heads for his new home in a remote retirement community, and it’s not long after his son Will (Ethan Embry) drops him off that Ambrose starts making enemies of his neighbors with his short temper and gruff demeanor. He settles in for his first night alongside his guide dog Shadow only to be disturbed by a loud disturbance next door. We see what he doesn’t — a werewolf has smashed its way into the woman’s home where it proceeds to disembowel her before heading over to Ambrose’s with similar intentions. Shadow fends off the furry intruder only to be injured in the process, and when Ambrose is found in his blood-spattered kitchen the next day he learns that the community has experienced a series of vicious animal attacks over the last few months.
And they’ve all occurred on a night with a full moon.
From there the film follows Ambrose across the next four weeks as he investigates and prepares for the creature’s return. He mingles with his neighbors in search of a suspect, and the film offers a few potentials in a local priest (Tom Noonan), a quirky churchgoer (Lance Guest) and a headstone salesman who, if I’m being honest, is only a suspect because he’s played by Larry Fessenden. Ambrose also takes time to prepare weaponry, grow familiar with his home and continue to shortchange Will emotionally, and as the next full moon approaches everything turns red.
Damici is a hard-assed powerhouse here, and his character follows suit with smart moves and aggressive energy, but the supporting players don’t fare as well. The murders are erroneously viewed as animal deaths, but even so the non-reactions on behalf of the local police and other residents just feel poorly scripted and played too broadly. Much of it feels like attempts at comedy, but almost all of it falls flat. It’s a shame as these moments of misaligned tone interrupt the residual effect of some very cool sequences.
One thing that tone can’t diminish is the film’s central transformation sequence. Creative camerawork and some fantastic prosthetic work combine for a fairly stunning sequence the likes of which we haven’t seen in years. The werewolf costume itself isn’t nearly as impressive, but it works well enough.
Director Adrian Garcia Bogliano‘s (Here Comes the Devil, Cold Sweat) English-language feature debut is flawed but easily his most cohesive and entertaining film. The premise is straight-forward and propelled by strong effects work, well-crafted scenes of suspense and a fun finale. It’s no lycanthropic masterpiece (An American Werewolf in London, The Howling), but it deserves a spot further down the shelf beside the likes of Silver Bullet. (That’s a compliment.)
Late Phases is currently available on VOD and opens in limited theatrical release on 11/21.
Richard Whittaker 11/23/2014
Ambrose, the surly, blind, widower/werewolf killer of Late Phases, doesn’t get along with people too well. That’s maybe why Nick Damici liked playing him. “He’s kinda grumpy,” said Damici, “but ironically I agree with him a lot. I love people individually, but I’m not a fan of humanity.”
As an actor, writer, and producer of films like post-apocalyptic vampire nightmare Stake Land, cannibal family drama We Are What We Are, and the recent adaptation of Joe Lansdale’s Cold in July, Damici and his long-time directing partner Jim Mickle have become mainstays of alternative horror. In his first teaming with director Adrián García Bogliano (Cold Sweat, Here Comes the Devil), Late Phases adds a new twist to the lycanthropic trope. Instead of a vicious furry killer romping across mist-shrouded moors, this is a vicious furry killer limping around a retirement community, where no one seems too bothered when residents disappear. That is, until Ambrose, a grizzled Vietnam vet, and his guide dog Shadow move in.
Damici explained this film’s anti-hero: “He’s based in this reality of truth. His meanness wasn’t about making him feel better. It was just about, I don’t tolerate bullshit. It’s very much like Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino, who you could dislike if you wanted to. But if you look at him, you like the guy, even if he is a grumpy old bastard.”
Austin Chronicle: With films like Stake Land, you’ve gained the reputation as the guy who takes on hard-to-pitch horrors. Werewolves in a retirement community with a blind action hero continues that trend.
Nick Damici: I’m very attracted to stuff that’s outside of the box – if it’s outside that box in a good way, not just for the sake of it. This was an opportunity to do something that’s familiar, werewolf movies are familiar, but to do it with in this old peoples’ with an elderly blind guy as the protagonist, I thought was interesting. Normally it’s some coed, or a bunch of young kids on a camping trip in a cabin. I thought, wow, that’s interesting, at least someone’s paying attention to the old folks.
AC: You’re a good decade younger than Ambrose. Was there ever a point when Adrian went, no, we’re looking for someone older?
ND: He was. He was laden with me. Greg Newman, who produced Stakeland also, he hired me, so when Adrian came into the project, I was attached already. He didn’t really have a choice, so I felt kind of bad for him. But he was very gracious about it, and we talked about how I was going to play older. We brought in the special effects guy, Brian Spears, who’s a terrific, terrific makeup guy, and he got a big kick out of doing it because it was straight makeup, just doing age. On the first day, it took about an hour and a half, and I was the first one there. He did it every day and got it down to around 45 minutes.
AC: And you’re wearing those contact lenses all the time. How much of a pain were they, and dd they help with the performance?
ND: It’s not something I’d jump back into doing. I tried, I put them in a few times on my own, but they were just takin me so long and I irritated my eyes. I’m just not good with that. I wear reading glasses, but I can’t stand for anything to touch me eyes, so I just had to sit back and let Stuart do them. It was torture every time, and then getting them out was no fun either.
AC: How much could you actually see through them?
ND: They were opaque, so in medium light I was OK. I could see people. I couldn’t read or anything. But the minute it got a little dusky or darkish, I started to really lose things. And then if they put bright lights on me, which happens all the time when you’re making a movie, then I would basically be blind. The hardest part was doing the action that way, because, number one, I had the lenses in, and number two, I’m not allowed to focus my eyes, so I had this peripheral thing, so I couldn’t look at what I was doing. The poor kid playing the werewolf, the stunt guy, he was in the mask, he couldn’t see very well either. So two blind people fighting each other, it was pretty funny.
AC: No way that can go wrong. No prop shovels across the face?
ND: We did OK. A few knees in the groin on accident, stuff like that, but nothing too bad.
AC: You’re also appearing opposite a couple of big name in indie horror: Larry Fessenden (Beneath, Habit) and Tom Noonan (Manunter, House of the Devil).
ND: I love when you get drunk with Larry and he turns into a pirate. I met Tom, maybe 10, 12 years ago. I was good friends with a guy named Victor Argo, another actor, so I kind of knew Tom through him. Then I met him again – Jim’s sister knew him some how, so we went to a party at his house. He lives in my neighborhood, then I’d run into him at the bank, I’d say, hey how you doing, Tom, and the guy would never remember me. He was very polite, but he didn’t know who I was. So when we did teh movie, I was like, he’s not going to remember me again. And of course, he basically didn’t remember me until I started naming names and he went, yeah yeah yeah, I saw you with Jim Mickle.
I always thought he was very intimidating. He’s six foot four or whatever it is, and he’s got this giant head, and he doesn’t talk. He just stares at you and he’s quiet. But then I realized he’s just that kind of guy. He’s kind of reserved, but once he opens up he loves to tell bad jokes. My dad was a bar tender, so he knew a million bad jokes, so me and Tom would tell bad jokes in between takes.
AC: And now you’re working on adapting Joe Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard books for Starz. How’s that going?
ND: It’s green lit, we’re working now, and it’s a good thing. Joe’s so prolific, and a wonderful writer and so accomplished in so many other ways, and just a down-to-earth, no-bullshit guy, that when it came to Cold in July, he realized that Mickle and I were huge fans of his. We weren’t some big Hollywood producers coming and saying, hey, we want to turn this into a movie and being able to take it and do what they want with it. We were really going to try to do the best to do his book the best we could. He trusted us and we built up the relationship. Then the Hap and Leonard thing came up and said, well, if anyone can do it, you guys can do it.
AC: There’s a whole shelf’s worth of Hap and Leonard books. Are you hoping to adapt them all?
ND: All depending on the success of the series. At this point, we’re starting at the beginning and we’re going to try to follow the series. Whether we skip a book here and jump to another book, I don’t know. We don’t make all the decision. But at this point, that’s Jim and I’s intent, to try to mount the series in book form and take it from there.
Rottin' Roger DeMarco 3/7/2015
Werewolves made their way to the silver screen with an unforgettable performance by arguably one of the greatest character actors of his time, Lon Chaney Jr., in the classic film The Wolf Man. Since its release in 1941, countless imitations and re-imaginings have failed to capture what made that film in particular so mesmerizing the first time we saw it. Whether it is the absolute terror we felt watching the wolf man stalk his victims or it was our fears of what was outside, just beyond sight, lurking in the darkness. I for one can’t really say what element of that film got to me the most; perhaps it was a combination of all of them. This is also why so many werewolf films come up short when compared to the original. Of course some exceptions can and have been made.
Landis’ An American Werewolf in London is an incredibly beautiful film with a simple story and characters you can invest in, as well as some of the best practical effects ever put on film. However, even genre heavyweights can churn out a truly awful experience such as Wes Craven’s Cursed. While it isn’t the worst of the bunch, it has a multitude of issues with it. It still remains a guilty pleasure of mine in sort of a Mystery Science Theater 3000 type of way, but it’s still not a great film by any stretch of the imagination.
Werewolves had nearly gone the way of zombies over the past few years, dangerously close to becoming a pop culture fad and losing the frightening edge they once held. With films like Twilight and Warm Bodies taming our precious movie monsters, one could almost sense that the end was near. For zombies, films like The Ford Brothers The Dead give a new hope, but where is our werewolf salvation? I was losing hope this decade would be full of teen-love story/horror crossovers, which was enough to make me want to burn all Hot Topic stores to the ground. Then, something amazing happened — I saw the trailer for Adrián García Bogliano’s Late Phases and suddenly, I had hope.
Every article I read made me grin like an adolescent boy, each new thing I learned was like a Christmas present. The time finally came to watch it. Would I be as pleased as I expected or would it just be another imitation? The answer is this, Late Phases is truly one of the best werewolf films ever made. Period. End of discussion.
Writer Eric Stolze has created some of the best characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. Each relationship has such a dynamic range, each character also seems to be hiding something. Behind the facade of the quiet retirement community are lies, good Christians with elitist attitudes, and murder. When Ambrose (Nick Damici) is introduced to the community, we aren’t greeted with any warm feelings of hope or security. Dread is sensed from the very first frame, which is similar to the feelings I get when the Creeds arrive to their new home in Pet Semetary.
Nick Damici’s performance of the blind, retired soldier, Ambrose, is as phenomenal as it gets. He was able to develop a tough exterior and an exceedingly dry sense of humor, while struggling with the loss of a close friend and a drifting relationship with his own son. All of this was done while also prepping to go to war with a werewolf. I could write about this film forever. Instead, I’m just going to tell you that you need to see it. I give this film 4.5 silver bullets out of 5.
Brian M. Sammons
Werewolf movies are going through a bit of a renaissance it seems, and I could not be happier. For far too long, lycanthropes have been the red-furred stepchild of the horror genre. For every American Werewolf in London or The Hollowing, there is American Werewolf in Paris, The Howling part any of the half-dozen, half-assed sequels that followed the first movie, Animals (which is a real shame, as it is based off of a good book), Darkwolf, The Beast of Bray Road, Cursed (oh lord, don’t get me started on that Wes Craven stinker) and on and on I could go. But lately there have been some werewolf winners, and yes, this is one of those.
Let me clear something right up, the Blu-ray/DVD release of this movie has sort of done an Edge of Tomorrow, Live / Die / Repeat on use here. That is, they changed the name from Late Phases for its theatrical release, to now Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf for the home release. I guess they thought that for a werewolf pic, you really needed the word “wolf” in there somewhere, but that’s just silly, not to mention an unnecessary mouthful. Anyway, everyone got that? Good, let’s move on.
The always awesome to watch, Nick Damici, plays a blind, elderly, but feisty Vietnam vet, Ambrose, who moves into a new house in a retirement community. It’s just his bad luck that he does it on the day of a full moon and that there’s a werewolf living in the neighborhood. After meeting one nice neighbor, and a lot more nosey, nasty ones, there is a werewolf attack once night falls. The nice neighbor lady is killed, and so is Ambrose’s loyal guide dog, but our crotchety old vet survives. Not being an unbelieving dummy like most horror movies protagonist, he puts the clues together in record time and figures out that his assailant was a werewolf, even if he never saw it. He now has 30 days until the next full moon. 30 days to figure out who the werewolf is among his neighbors, and how to fight it and kill it, because he knows the wolf will soon be back at his door. He also knows he has to do this by himself, because no one would ever believe him.
What follows is largely a character piece focused solely on Ambrose, as the werewolf doesn’t show up again until the very end of the film. So the vast majority of this movie is firmly on the shoulders of Ambrose to carry and keep us invested and entertained enough to keep watching. Thankfully Nick Damici is more than up to the task. He is the reason to watch this movie, as he is simply amazing in it. That’s not to say the other elements in here are lacking. Well, one is, but I’ll get to that in a moment. But the direction is spot on, the writing is good, and the other actors all play their roles well, with Ethan Embry as Ambrose’s son and Tom Noonan as a caring priest being the highlights for me.
Now the one and only thing about this movie that I didn’t absolutely love is the look of the werewolf. I give this movie full props for using practical effects, even during the shape changing scenes, but the final product was far more silly that scary. That said, it is also a fact that in spite of that, I still really liked this movie, and it actually pulled off more than a few scenes of tension and horror. So if nothing else, that is a testament to how good everything else in this movie is, that even with a less than frightening werewolf it doesn’t ruin things.
So the movie is really good, the werewolf effects aren’t that great, how about the extras on this new Blu-ray from Dark Sky Films? First and foremost, there is a director’s commentary with Adrián García Bogliano. Next there also are a couple of featurettes. The first is 14 minutes long and is your pretty basic making of short. The second one is a FX featurette on making the werewolves that is oddly twice as long at 30 minutes. Lastly there is the trailer.
Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf (ugh) is a very fine fright flick. If you are a lycanthrope lover, you’ll really like this movie. If you like movies about strong, believable, unique characters, you’ll really like this movie. It gets a howling recommendation from me, and you can get a copy of this for yourself on March 10th.
YES WEEKLY - PICK OF THE WEEK
There hasn’t been a good werewolf film in some time, but director Adrian Garcia Bogliano’s chiller, subtitled Night of the Lone Wolf, is a hands-down, claws-down winner.
A major reason is Nick Damici’s terrific turn as Ambrose McKinley, a blind, embittered Vietnam veteran newly arrived at Crescent Bay, a suburban retirement community that seems to have more than its fair share of fatal animal attacks.
After a fateful first night in which his neighbor (Saturday Night Fever siren Karen Lynn Gorney) and his seeing-eye dog are torn apart, Ambrose becomes convinced that a werewolf is at large, and determines the end the threat once and for all.
Eric J. Stolze’s crisp script offers a surprising amount of character development, elements of dark humor, and even works as a whodunit – until Bogliano delivers a surprise reveal of the furry fiend’s true identity. And horror fans can rest assured, there will be blood … and plenty of it.
The DVD retails for $24.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98.
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
At a time when every single horror movie involves teenagers with toned midriffs getting killed by zombies, by vampires, or by zombie vampires, Late Phases lands like a rifle butt to the jaw. A throwback to the aggressively muscular tough-guy movies of the 70’s but with a supernatural twist, Late Phases puts its focus squarely on its late middle-aged main character, Ambrose McKinley, and in so doing it resembles nothing more than the character-driven genre films that dominated screens in the late 70’s and early 80’s, like Death Wish and Dirty Harry.
“Not everyone is 22, you know,” says Nick Damici, the actor playing Ambrose. “This film is a throwback,” he continues. “It’s the kind of movie that would be made in the 70’s with Albert Finney.” But despite his age, Ambrose is the kind of guy anyone can identify with. A Vietnam veteran, he spent all his life working with his hands until a construction site injury caused him to go blind. He’s a typical man born in the 1950’s, the kind of guy who was taught that asking for help is a weakness and that a man never cries, never quits, and never backs down. Constantly frustrated that his blindness makes him dependent on others, Ambrose is always putting his foot wrong, always mistaking every question for an insult, always looking for a fight. In other words, he’s a blast to watch onscreen.
Damici was first seen by audiences playing a police detective opposite Meg Ryan and Mark Ruffalo in Jane Campion’s In the Cut (2003), after which he appeared in Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center (2006). But it was his performance as a grizzled boxer taking on an army of rat-people in the horror movie, Mulberry Street (2007), and his role as the tougher-than-leather Mister, a monosyllabic vampire-killing machine, in Stake Land (2010), that made fans sit up and take notice. With Ambrose, he’s found a character that suits him perfectly.
“He lets what he does speak for who he is,” Damici says. “He never apologizes. He never goes back on being a crotchety old fuck. Action is character, and who doesn’t want to play an old blind guy who goes on the warpath because a bunch of werewolves killed his dog?”
Balancing Ambrose’s toughness are two vulnerabilities: his blindness and his relationship with his son. Will (Ethan Embry), in his early 30’s, is resigned to being his dad’s punching bag. Over the years, the two have settled into a bickering relationship, where Will does everything he can to make his dad’s life easier, and his dad constantly tells him that everything he’s doing is wrong. After the death of his mom, Will is determined to do right by his dad, even if it means driving him on endless shopping expeditions to price tombstones.
Then there’s Ambrose’s blindness. By the time the movie begins, this is something he’s become used to but it still causes problems. In his old apartment he knew where everything was, but now that he’s moved to a new home in a new neighborhood, everything is unfamiliar. When the creature attacks for the first time, Ambrose, who’s still a crack shot, can’t find his guns, he can’t find the phone and when he does find it he doesn’t know where to plug it in. Because he can’t even get to the front door to find a neighbor, he can’t call for help and so he has to sit there helplessly as his beloved dog is torn to shreds. It’s this attack that makes Ambrose a believer in the supernatural, and also vow that he’ll hunt this predator down and put a bullet between its eyes.
Depicting blindness onscreen has always been a challenge, especially in an action role like this. The result is that Damici had to turn to some unlikely inspirations for his performance. “I watched Blind Fury,” he says, referring to the notorious B-movie from 1989 in which a blind Rutger Hauer becomes a swordsman and takes on a bunch of ninjas. “His performance is great in that,” Damici says, going on to cite Zatoichi, the 26-film series from Japan about a blind swordsman, as another inspiration. To get into character, he spent several hours a day blindfolded, making his coffee blind, and going about his routine without using his eyes. “The fear is falling into some kind of a parody,” he says. “Our eyes are what motivates our movements. When you don’t have your eyes, your hearing and your other senses motivate what you do.”
From the production’s point-of-view, Ambrose’s blindness offers all kinds of opportunities to ratchet up the tension. With 90% of the movie told from Ambrose’s point-of-view, director Adrian Garcia Bogliano incorporated his blindness into the visual plan of the film. Along with his director of photography, longtime collaborator Ernesto Herrera, he incorporated Ambrose’s vulnerabilities into the cinematography. The movie is shot with long lenses and a shallow depth of field so that what’s immediately around Ambrose is in focus, but the background can be left hazy and indistinct. They also fill the screen with shadows and darkness, allowing there to be a lot of space where a monster can suddenly appear from just outside of the frame, or from a shadow that seemed like part of the background.
The movie’s monster turns out to be a resident of Cresent Bay, Griffin (Lance Guest) who, one year previously, tried to hunt down an aging man-beast that was killing people in the neighborhood. Griffin killed his prey, but unfortunately he got bitten and now this deeply religious, gentle man finds himself cursed to transform at every full moon into a savage creature that slaughters his neighbors for food.
While on the one hand this movie is about people at the end of their life searching for meaning, it’s also a movie full of black humor. With a retirement community as the unusual setting for its story, director Bogliano has expanded the scope of his visuals. “My previous movie, Penumbra, was shot inside one apartment,” he says. “So this gives me a lot more space to explore. In a way, this retirement community is like some kind of prison with bars on the windows and a gate at the entrance with a security guard. On the one hand it’s a peaceful place, on the other hand, I shot it something like a prison movie.”
Adding to the off-kilter feel are the residents, who don’t take kindly to Ambrose turning up with a bunch of guns, flinging around accusations of lycanthropy, and peppering them with insults. The three old ladies who show up as the local welcome wagon are later turned into bloodthirsty animals themselves, but their transformed, monstrous bodies mirror their owned aged human bodies with thinning fur and age spots. A man in an iron lung literally loses his head, and the finale is an epic shootout on the streets of Crescent Bay as Ambrose loads his sniper rifle with silver bullets and tries to take down a growing army of these savage shapechangers.
“I have seen a lot of horror movies,” says director Garcia Bogliano, “But this is something I haven’t seen. Not in a long time. This sense of place, this idea of people at the end of their life looking for meaning before they die, this kind of creature design…everyone involved in this production is trying hard to make this kind of horror movie new again.”
DIRECTOR INTERVIEW – Adrian Garcia Bogliano
Why a werewolf movie?
More than a horror movie, this is a movie about a man in the twilight of his life who has to fight that one last battle that will give meaning to his entire life. What matters is not the werewolves. What matters is how a man faces the end of his life.
What’s the link between werewolves and the end of life?
The people in Crescent Bay have been thrown in here to die, and nobody gives a damn about them. They’ve been forgotten by their families and left alone to face death. They have been caged up to be food for werewolves.
Why did you cast Nick Damici in the lead role?
Nick is in that tradition of tough-looking, strong, very macho actors who aren’t your typical bland and handsome movie stars of today. You don’t see actors like Charles Bronson in movies anymore. The motion picture faces we remember aren’t these smooth young guys we have now, it’s men like Lee Marvin, James Caan, Sean Connery. People tend to cast characters in their 20’s and 30’s because they think this will make it easier for the audience to relate to them, but it’s easy to relate to an older man because we all have to relate to our fathers. And the relationship between father and son, between an older man and a younger man, is a crucial element in this movie. I love blood and gory stuff, and if you have a serious moment you have to balance it with a more fun moment, but I think audiences will appreciate being treated seriously. They want to see a movie about their relationship with their father, they want to see how a man faces his death, they want to see someone fight to find meaning in his life.
What are the werewolves like in Late Phases?
They were old people before their transformation, and that makes them very unique in films. They are fragile also, and damaged. They are missing teeth, they have scars, patches of hair are missing. But they have had long lives, so they are menacing and sly. What they do not look like is a suit that comes out of the special effects shop.
What about the transformation from human to wolf?
Ever since Universal’s The Wolfman it has been a struggle to show the transformation and make it believable. Always you see it and they cut to the reaction shots of other characters to hide the flaws, but in Late Phases we will see the whole thing occur quickly in one shot. Everyone who tries to make a werewolf movie says the same thing about how different their movie is, but I am more and more confident that no one has done these types of effects that we are attempting before. The transformation will be like peeling off a dry husk to expose the wet, vital beast inside the human.
Nick Damici plays a blind character. Can you talk a little about that?
His blindness is not the center of who he is. We are working together to develop a character with a lot of personality, a character who is tough and angry, so that he is a person first and a blind person second. One inspiration for how he’s being treated is like Audrey Hepburn in Wait Until Dark. Her character is like Nick in this film, she can be very strong in certain moments but also very fragile when her system for navigating the world gets disrupted. It’s interesting to find that with Nick, this character who is so strong, but whose way of moving through the world is so fragile.
Anything else you want to say?
Only that the one movie I tried to keep in mind while developing this film is Gran Torino. That’s the kind of werewolf movie I am making.
SPECIAL EFFECTS INTERVIEW – Robert Kurtzman
Why’d you want to do a werewolf movie?
They’ve been done so many times before, I’ve even had a bunch of werewolf projects in development myself, but I never got a chance to make one. I’ve been dying to do a werewolf that’s a real hybrid between a wolf and a man, not just a wolf head stuck on someone in a muscle suit.
What inspired the design of the werewolves in Late Phases?
In this movie, the people who transform into werewolves are older, so I wanted to give the monsters a thinner look. They’re powerful, but lanky and skinny, with longer ears so they look more like hyenas than wolves. It’s a really creepy visual. I’m not a huge fan of the werewolf that’s basically just a big dog like in Twilight. Our werewolves stand on two legs, but they’re big, so they tower over everyone and look down on them. They only drop onto four legs to run. It’s just creepier. And, of course, our female werewolves have eight tits.
The werewolf movie money shot is the transformation from human to creature. How are you handling the big change?
The coolest werewolf ever for me was in The Howling, I just don’t think you can top that. But you can’t expect today’s audience to sit still while you bring the movie to a halt to showcase a 10-minute transformation scene. Werewolves were originally nicknamed “turncoats,” and we’re trying to take that literally, showing the transformation when the darkness inside the cursed person, their bestial nature, erupts from inside and literally turns them inside out. Their human skin is peeled back like a husk — their flesh splits along the back and chest, the face splits, the back of his head splits — and the beast tears this dried husk off. To top it all off, we’re going to do the entire transformation in one take.
How are you balancing practical effects versus digital effects?
We did everything with practical effects. We used digital for clean-up — removing wires, or covering up a rig, or blending two shots — but I came up in the business back in the 80’s, I’m from the old school, so practical effects are what I love. I’m not a big fan of computer-generated effects except as a way to make some things easier.
Anything else we should know about these werewolves?
This is a collaborative process, but I’ve had this transformation idea for a long time, and I’m really excited about it. Every time I take on a show I try to do something different. I never want to half-ass anything. I want to create something that is so violent and so visceral that it sticks with the audience for a long time.
WRITER INTERVIEW – Eric Stolze
What inspired this screenplay?
I’m a lifelong horror buff, and so I basically looked at two different places in horror that I thought we didn’t have a lot of strong recent examples of. One was that horror so infused with young people and teenagers now, but I thought there were meaningful stories to be told about people at the end of their lives. And two, I felt that we’re long overdue for a good werewolf movie.
What interested you about people at the end of their lives?
Well, a big part of this movie is me trying to understand my grandfather. I look at the older men in my family and they’re almost like a different species. Their language, their values, everything about them is so alien to the life I’ve been fortunate enough to live. I’ve had a life with very little fighting in it, but in their lives they knew nothing but fighting, nothing but struggle.
And what interested you about werewolves?
The thing about a werewolf is that it completely reduces a human being to his base nature. It takes away everything human and leaves an animal. In a way, we’re all going to have that moment when we reach the end of our lives. Getting old is a process of stripping down, of shedding your skin, of losing everything we’ve accumulated, until we die. Becoming a werewolf takes away everything recognizably human and leaves behind an animal with basic drives and passions. So does aging. That’s what frightens people about both things.
What did you find challenging about writing a werewolf movie?
The werewolf only works if you can be aware of and respectful of the established rules. Werewolves have always been a little bit of a curse, and a little bit of a virus in that it’s spread through bites and drawn blood, but it’s also similar to curses like vampirism in that there’s an uncontrollable change that takes place at night. The interesting thing about werewolves is that it’s about the literal reversion of a human being back to something prehistoric, or pre-evolutionary, the actual beast inside of us all. Every human has some animal biology inside of them, but the thing that separates us from animals is the purpose we give to our lives. The embrace of a spiritual life, a religious life. And the werewolf is the monster, the purely biological creature, that tears through all those defenses and reduces us to the level of an animal.
The film features a lot of religion. What does that have to do with werewolves?
This film is about people trying to find and maintain a purpose in their lives, something that keeps them human, and religious life and spirituality are such an enormous part of that. It’s what separates us from animals. Our werewolf is holding on desperately to this religious iconography because it’s the part of him that’s human, but he has this murderous, animalistic secret. In the end, the religion in the film is one more weapon in this war against these terrifying natural instincts.
Nick Damici (Ambrose McKinley)
Nick Damici wrote and starred in the feature films Mulberry Street (2007) and Stake Land (2010), both of which were directed by Jim Mickle. Damici’s third feature film as a writer, We Are What We Are (2013), premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, 2013, and was bought by EOne. Nick’s breakout role as an actor was as the co-lead opposite Mark Ruffalo and Meg Ryan in the Jane Campion feature, In the Cut (2003). He also played supporting roles in the feature films, World Trade (2006) and Premium Rush (2012). In television, Nick is known for his recurring roles on both CSI: NY and The Black Donnelleys. He has also Guest Starred on Life on Mars and Law & Order.
Ethan Embry (Will McKinley)
Ethan Embry got his start in show business at the age of 13 when he starred in Dutch (1991) alongside Ed O’Neill and JoBeth Williams. That same year he also appeared alongside Thora Birch in All I Want For Christmas (1991), and a few years later he appeared in Empire Records (1995) and then White Squall (1996), and played Rusty Griswold in Vegas Vacation (1997). Since then, he’s appeared in Can’t Hardly Wait (1998), Disturbing Behavior (1998), and the Masters of Horror episode “Incident On and Off a Mountain Road” (2005) directed by Don Coscarelli (Phantasm, Bubba Ho-Tep). He played one of the evil creeps in Vacancy (2007), and he is one of the stars of the recent film Cheap Thrills (2013) playing Vince, the high school buddy who suggests the ill-fated night of drinking.
Erin Cummings (Anne)
Best known as Sura, the wife of Spartacus in the hit Starz series Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Erin Cummings got her start playing “Prostitute #1” on Star Trek: Enterprise in 2003. She’s transcended such humble beginnings since then and has appeared in recurring roles on Dante’s Cove, Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse, Mad Men, Detroit 187, Made in Jersey, Pan Am, and many more. She played a major role in the feature film Rolling (2007), is one of the leads in The Anniversary (2009), starred in the tongue-in-cheek exploitation movie, Bitch Slap (2009), and features prominently in The Iceman (2013) alongside Michael Shannon and Ray Liotta.
Lance Guest (Griffin)
Once the roommate of screenwriters Shane Black (Lethal Weapon) and Ed Solomon (Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure), Lance Guest’s first big break came when he was cast as Jamie Lee Curtis’s boyfriend, Jimmy, in Halloween II (1981). Just three years later he played not only as the lead character, Alex Rogan, in The Last Starfighter (1984), but his own android duplicate, Beta Alex, in the film, too. He appeared in the searing drunk driving ABC Afterschool Special One Too Many (1985) alongside Val Kilmer, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Mare Winningham, battled the shark alongside Michael Caine and Lorraine Gary in Jaws 4: The Revenge (1987), and had a recurring role on Knot’s Landing and Life Goes On. Since then he’s appeared on Becker, JAG, The X-Files, NYPD Blue, House, Jericho, and the made-for-TV movie, Flu Bird Horror (2008). In 2010 he went to Broadway where he played Johnny Cash in the Tony Award-winning musical, Million Dollar Quartet.
Tom Noonan (Father Roger)
Starting out in theater, Tom Noonan soon found his way to Hollywood, most notably in Heaven’s Gate (1980), and as a zoologist in the werewolf movie, Wolfen (1981). But it was his role as serial killer Francis Dolarhyde in Michael Mann’s Manhunter (1986) that made him the go-to for parts that required a sensitive monster, as in his performance as Frankenstein’s monster in The Monster Squad (1987), or just plain old monsters, as when he was transformed into a giant robot in Robocop 2 (1990). He played the bad guy in the Jay Leno/Pat Morita buddy-cop movie, Collision Course (1989), and the bad guy in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Last Action Hero (1993). In 1994 he directed and starred in What Happened Was… a big screen adaptation of his own play, and in 1995 he directed The Wife, starring himself, Wallace Shawn, and Karen Young, another adaptation of one of his own plays. Since then he’s made appearances in films from Synecdoche, New York (2008), to House of the Devil (2009) as well as in television shows like CSI, Damages, Louie, and Hell on Wheels.
Tina Louise (Clarissa)
Training at Sanford Meisner’s famous Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City, Tina Louise got her start onstage in Bette Davis’s musical revue Two’s Company (1952) and understudied Jayne Mansfield in the Broadway production of Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1955). She worked in Italy for years, before returning to the United States to study with Lee Strasberg. In 1964 she took the role of the movie star, Ginger, on the sitcom Gilligan’s Island, and played the part for all 98 episodes. After leaving behind that iconic role, she turned to tougher fare, playing one of the brainwashed housewives in The Stepford Wives (1975), a sadistic prison guard in the ABC movie, Nightmare in Badham County (1978), a Satanist in Look What’s Happened to Rosemary’s Baby (1976), and a part in Robert Altman’s cult comedy O.C. and Stiggs (1986). She appeared with Brad Pitt in Johnny Suede (1992) but has since then mostly pursued a role as an academic and literacy advocate.
Karen Lynn Gorney (Delores)
For four years, from 1970 to 1974, Karen Lynn Gorney played Tara Martin on All My Children, then left the show and returned in 1976 for another season after her replacement left. She played the lead role of Stephanie Mangano opposite John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever (1977), then left the entertainment industry for 14 years, during which time she managed a New York City art gallery. Her cameo role in the Michael J. Fox/James Wood movie The Hard Way (1991) marked her return to show business, and it was followed by numerous stage roles, appearances on TV shows such as Law and Order and The Sopranos, and independent movies like Final Rinse (1999) and Bronx Paradise (2010). She is also a jazz singer who has released three albums, and currently she is gearing up to appear on the West End in a new production of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline.
Rutanya Alda (Gloria B)
A veteran of more than 100 movie and television roles, Rutanya Alda got her start playing a shoplifter in Brian De Palma’s Greetings (1968) alongside Robert DeNiro before playing a nurse in the Al Pacino film Panic in Needle Park (1971). She appeared in Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye (1973), Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973), and is best known for playing John Savage’s wife, Angela, in Michael Cimino’s The Deer Hunter (1979). She is a veteran of horror movies, having appeared in Brian De Palma’s The Fury (1978), When a Stranger Calls (1979), Christmas Evil (1980), Amityville II: The Possession (1982), Larry Cohen’s The Stuff (1985), and George Romero’s The Dark Half (1993). However, her most notorious role may be as Joan Crawford’s long-suffering maid, Carol Ann, in the Hollywood horror movie Mommie Dearest (1981).
Al Sapienza (Officer Bennett)
A friendship with iconic radio DJ, Murray the K, landed Al Sapienza the role of Ringo Starr in the 1977 Broadway production, Beatlemania, and that led him to move to Los Angeles and become an actor. His first film role was as a musician in Nocturna: Granddaughter of Dracula (1979) starring John Carradine, and that led him to a veritable avalanche of television appearances, from 80’s classics like The Facts of Life, Knots Landing, Falcon Crest, and Matlock to 90’s favorites like Married with Children, Melrose Place, Silk Stalkings, and Diagnosis Murder. Since then he’s appeared on hit shows like Prison Break, Fringe, and NCIS while also appearing in feature films like Lethal Weapon IV (1998), Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995), and Saw V (2008). Most recently, he played hitman Mikey Palmice on The Sopranos, the head of the teachers union, Marty Spinella, on House of Cards, and Detective Terney on Person of Interest.
Adrian Garcia Bogliano, Director
Adrian Garcia Bogliano was born in Madrid, but his parents fled to Argentina during the attempted 1981 military coup in Spain. He attended film school in Argentina and spent five years making his first film, Rooms for Tourists (2004). The press went wild for the film and it screened all over the world, except for Argentina where it was banned. It took five years and six more movies before his first movie played in his home country. Cold Sweat was a hit at home, and he went on to make Penumbra (2011), Here Comes the Devil (2012), and a segment called “B is for Bigfoot” in the anthology film The ABCs of Death (2012). This is his first English-language film.
Robert Kurtzman, Special Effects
Robert Kurtzman is one of the founders of KNB Effects Group, the Academy Award-winning effects house which has provided special effects and make-up for movies and television shows ranging from The Walking Dead (2010) to Kill Bill vol. 1 & 2 (2003, 2004). Kurtzman himself has worked on films like Predator (1987), Evil Dead II (1987), and Scream (1996).
Eric Stolze, Writer
Screenwriter Eric Stolze started out writing the short film Some Assembly Required in 2007, then wrote and directed his own short film, Positive Type, in 2008. He worked on the television series, BlackBoxTV, before writing the screenplay for Under the Bed, a 2012 horror movie directed by Steven C. Miller (Silent Night, The Aggression Scale).
Executive Producer: Malik Ali, Badie Ali, Hamza Ali
Producer: Brent Kunkle, Zak Zeman, Greg Newman, Larry Fessenden
Associate Producer: Luis Flores, Lex Ortega, Andrea Quiroz
Writer: Eric Stolze
Director: Adrian Garcia Bogliano
Cinematographer: Ernesto Herrera
Music: Wojciech Golczewski
Editor: Aaron Crozier
Creature FX House: Kurtzman’s Creature Corp
Creature Art Director: Robert Kurtzman
Second Unit Director: Ramiro Garcia Bogliano
Production Designer: Lisa Myers
Art Director: Kevin O’Donnell
Costume Designer: Megan Evans
Key Hair & Make-Up Artist: Lauren Killip
Creature Forman: Alan Tuskes, John Schnieder
Key Creature Artists: Beki Ingram, David “House” Greathouse, Sean Rodgers, Tom Luhtala, Rachel Demski
Werewolf Performer: David “House” Greathouse
Ambrose Aging Make-Up: Brian Spears, Peter Gerner
Gore FX Make-Up: Brian Spears, Peter Gerner
Head Animal Trainer: Jennifer Culver
Casting Directors: Sig De Miguel, Stephen Vincent
Stunt Coordinator: Tony Vincent, Bryce Burke, Peter Klein
Key Werewolf Performer: Asa Liebmann
Stunt Rigger: Greg Harvey, Mariusz Kubicki