Today’s selection: Wolf Guy: Enraged Lycanthrope (1975, dir. Kazuhiko Yamaguchi)
Subgenre: Martial Arts, Kaijin
Available from: fansub-only
Reposting an old review from my previous ‘blog:
The official international title for this movie seems to be Howl the Wolf-Man, but since it got no international distribution, I’m just going with the same literal translation that everyone else uses.
Wolfguy: Enraged Lycanthrope is a Sonny Chiba karate movie, where Chiba plays a werewolf. Go back and reread that last sentence. Are you not already sold?
Chiba plays Inugami (that’s Japanese for “dog god”, real subtle), a hard-nosed reporter who’s walking down the street one evening, and sees a man mauled by a helltiger. I use the word helltiger, because like a hellhound, it’s invisible to everyone not getting mauled, but the man seems pretty sure it’s a tiger, not a dog. Investigating, Inugami discovers that this type of death has already happened to a couple of others, all members of the same rock band, who were hired by a politician to give Miki, another singer, syphilis, so now Miki is taking revenge by means of helltiger. The shadow government gets involved, kidnapping Miki to weaponize her, and they capture Inugami while they’re at it, since, oh yeah, he’s the last surviving werewolf, and his blood can probably make other werewolves. (It turns out that it just makes people explode). Inugami feels that he can no longer live among humanity, and returns to his homeland, shags a woman who might be his mom, and takes revenge on the folks that slaughtered the werewolves in the first place. Finally, the J-CIA attacks him with a brainwashed Miki, and the big showdown occurs in the giant gravel pit utilized by every Toei Studios action movie.
Boy, if I had a nickel for every time I heard that story, right? Trying to wrap your mind around it may cause a brain hemorrhage, but nothing less should be expected from the director of Karate Bullfighter and the Sister Street Fighter series. Chiba plays his typical Chiba character, a karate dude who won’t hesitate to womanize a chick he just met, even if she’s got syphilis or could be his mom. The gore effects in the movie are really good, like the people getting ripped up by invisible tiger claws and Chiba’s stomach healing super-fast after his guts get torn out. The downside is that he doesn’t actually wear any werewolf makeup; he just growls and grunts and gets crazy eyes when the full moon’s out, but that’s enough to get him superpowers. Maybe he didn’t like makeup; they certainly didn’t have the budget to rotoscope it in like Osamu Tezuka’s Vampires did.
The movie is based on a light novel/manga series by Kazumasa Hirai (who also wrote 8-Man, Genma Wars, and the first Spider-man manga), which was also the basis for the 1973 Toho movie Horror of the Wolf. There was a six-episode OAV produced in the 1990’s, and a revival manga (Wolf Guy: Wolfen Crest) started in 2007. Naturally, the new manga has been completely scanslated by people ignorant of the source material, and is often considered a knock-off of Wolf’s Rain.
The youtube link I used last time has been taken down, so it’s screencap time: