‘The Wolf of Snow Hollow’ more bark than bite

Courtesy photo

There are basically two types of werewolf movies.

The first are the ones that focus on the plight of the poor soul who is afflicted by a supernatural curse and “becomes a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms and the autumn moon shines bright,” as the poem from Universal Studios’ 1941 feature “The Wolf-Man” relates.

The second type features on those who are hunting the werewolf who is ravaging their town or countryside. This latest celluloid foray into lycanthropy “The Wolf of Snow Hollow” is the latter. It’s written, directed, and stars Jim Cummings, whose debut film “Thunder Road” won him much deserved attention on the film festival circuit in 2018.

Like “Thunder Road,” Cummings stars as a struggling, ineffectual agent of the law, this time named John Marshall; however, he is in over his head investigating a grisly series of murders that suggests the culprit is a deranged cannibalistic serial killer or a werewolf.

Marshall’s struggles at work are compounded by an awful relationship with his ex-wife, his daughter’s impending departure for college, and his attempt to take care of his ailing father (Robert Forster in his final role) who just happens to be the town sheriff.

The film dances delicately on the thread of drama and dark comedy, with a tone somewhat reminiscent of a less-well crafted and not nearly as funny Cohen Brothers movie. The humor is dark, but it’s there.

As we see the pressure of the situation nearly break Marshall, a recovering alcoholic, the brutal murders continue in the small Utah community causing the townspeople and the police to turn on each other.

While returning bits of confiscated items to townsfolk cleared of the murders, Marshall finally gets an inkling of just what is going is on, leading to the movie’s dynamic climax, which almost justifies the price of admission.

The film is compellingly shot, using the stark, icy Utah winter as a foreboding backdrop for the movie that might remind some of aspects of “Jaws” and “Zodiac,” although this movie is not in either of those classic’s league.

Cummings is an interesting figure as an actor, director, and screenwriter, but with “Wolf” he may have bitten off a bit more than he could chew. He attempted to say a lot in the movie about stress, pain, and even torture, but none of those ideas were completely developed, or at least not to my satisfaction.

Cummings strived to present more than just your average werewolf movie with “The Wolf of Snow Hollow,” and should be credited for the aspects where he succeeded, but on the whole, the film seemed much more like a first draft than a polished piece of filmmaking.

The movie’s strong points might make it worth watching for horror movie fans, but I’d suggest waiting until it shows up on a cable channel or a streaming network which you are already subscribed.

(R) 1 hr. 23 min.
Grade: C

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Classic Corner


Playing at: Malco Razorback (Oct. 16)

This 1960 Alfred Hitchcock classic is arguably the first modern horror movie, and 60 years on, it remains frighteningly suspenseful and effective despite its age. Prior to “Psycho,” horror films had devolved into B-movie territory with very few rising above the muck and schlock to be truly frightening.

Hitchcock changed all of that with this expertly crafted film, which shifts gears from noir to horror with the shocking murder of Janet Leigh in the shower of Bates Motel room. Anthony Perkins gives one of the most revered performances in fright film history as creepy Norman Bates, who has mommy issues that you have to see to believe. The film is based on Robert Bloch’s novel, which was loosely inspired by the story of convicted Wisconsin murderer and body thief Ed Gein.

No doubt horror films have become more graphic and gruesome since “Psycho” debuted in 1960, but you’d be hard pressed to find a better crafted horror movie than this Hitchcock classic.

The Malco Razorback will show the classic at 7 p.m. Friday.


Playing at: Skylight Cinema (Oct. 16-18)

“Ghostbusters” originally hit the big screen as a summer blockbuster in 1984, but in terms of aesthetics, there’s hardly a better movie to kick off the spookiest month of the year than director Ivan Reitman’s classic paranormal comedy.
The Skylight Cinema in Bentonville offers three showings of the film at 3:15 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 9:25 p.m. Friday to get everyone in the mood for a frightfully fun Halloween season.

Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver and Dan Aykroyd were already stars when the movie debuted, but this colossal hit that combined fast-talking, gonzo humor with PG-level thrills and chills cemented their popularity with an all-ages audience that just couldn’t get enough of their super-natural hijinks.

Aykroyd and writing-partner and co-star Harold Ramis came up with was box-office gold. Murray’s Peter Venkman is basically the same character he crafted for films like “Meatballs” and “Stripes” with Aykroyd’s Ray and Ramis’ Egon falling into Hollywood scientific stereotypes, who were fired from Columbia University for wasting research money on investigating the paranormal.
With their credibility as academics in question and the need for cash primary, the trio creates “The Ghostbusters,” a paranormal investigation and elimination service.

At first times are hard, but after messily dispatching a ghost from the Sedgwick Hotel, business begins to boom. Weaver plays Dana, one of their customers. Her refrigerator just happens to be a gateway into a hellish dimension ruled by Gozer the Gozerian. She’s possessed by a demigod named Zuul, who is seeking her mate Vinz who has possessed her meek and mild neighbor Louis, played impeccably by Rick Moranis.

A hilarious battle of biblical proportions plays out all over New York City between the Ghostbusters and a number of super-natural entities, including a gigantic and angry “Stay Puft” marshmallow demon.

The Shining

Playing at: Malco Razorback (Oct. 20 & 22)

In conjunction with Fathom Events, the Malco Razorback Theater is holding two special screenings of director Stanley Kubrick’s classic horror film “The Shining” at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.

Stephen King wasn’t exactly thrilled with Kubrick’s adaptation of his 1977 novel. King actually despises it. He called Kubrick’s film a “big beautiful Cadillac with no engine” in an interview with Deadline because the film’s the main character Jack Torrance, has no character arc. He’s loony when the movie begins and loony when it ends.

King may have a point, but with all deference to him, the movie is still a terrifying piece of filmmaking by the master director.
Jack Nicholson’s performance as Torrance is, well, haunting. Shelley Duvall is a picture of terror as Jack’s embattled wife, Wendy. Scatman Crothers works his magic as Dick, the telepathic mentor to Danny Torrance, a boy just coming to grips with his own telepathic abilities

The film features some truly frightening imagery and ideas that holds up today, despite King’s dismissive attitude toward Kubrick’s adaptation.

RiffTrax: Jack-O

Playing at: Malco Razorback (Oct. 21)

Wednesday at 7 p.m., Mike, Kevin and Bill —the RiffTrax guys and stars of classic MST3K — are back and this time they’re goofing on the 1995 Halloween-themed movie “Jack-O.”

An evil warlock, Jack the Pumpkin man, rises from the grave to seek revenge on the descendants of the man who killed him. What follows is a campy Halloween night rampage by Mr. Jack as he terrorizes the town.

Stevie Nicks 24K Gold: The Concert

Playing at: Malco Razorback (Oct. 21)

Wednesday at 7 p.m., Rock & Roll Hall of Fame icon and Fleetwood Mac front woman Stevie Nicks performs classics and rarer cuts in this epic concert film recorded from her recent sold-out 24 Karat Gold Tour.