The Merits of Sin: Lycanthrope (1999) (USA)

There’s a point in one’s fandom where they really need to take a good look at the thing in the mirror gazing back at them. I’ve loved horror for as long as I can remember and I’ve always been game to give anything a chance. Somewhere down the line cinematic artistry became the least of my concerns and I fell into a trash tinged tailspin. So, as I look at the reflection of the horror fan smiling his foolish smile with no hint of understanding in his faraway gaze I can’t help but wonder if I’m doing any of this right. “What brought on this bit of existential crisis?” You may ask, as a concerned fan of my rambling write ups of seemingly random films. Well, I was excited that a werewolf movie featured Michael Winslow and used the lovely Tennessee wilderness as a stand-in for the Amazon rainforest. Genuine excitement.

I think we broke Brennan

An opening text alerts us to the dangers of a depleted ozone layer. Now that that’s out of the way the camera lingers on wet boobs. A woman who resembles the mean librarian that haunted your grade school library takes a wet rag shower, which I guess is a thing. When she’s all done dripping water on herself, she puts on her lab coat (just her lab coat) and goes to investigate a strange noise. Finding the mutilated corpse of a colleague, she freaks out and is attacked by some big dude in a football jersey. Yep. The horror is hitting at a fever pitch!

Glasses AND a lab coat? She’s a scientist alright

We leave the scene of pure terror to join Robert Carradine and Michael Winslow as they meet with Christopher Mitchum. I’m well aware that that last sentence sounds like I’m casting my life story in the clutches of a severe stroke but I swear to the garbage film gods these three giants of crapola share a scene. Robert Carradine is Bill Parker and he’s one hell of a special agent. Michael Winslow is his partner and he makes noises (as you’re well aware if you are familiar with his award winning work in the Police Academy franchise). Mitchum is some sort of middleman who will be introducing them to their client, one Dr. Stein who has asked for Parker by name but Parker has no idea who the doctor is. Mitchum will also be lending out his lady friend Rosary (the super foxy Dalia Garcia who unfortunately starred in this flick and nothing else) to serve as their guide.

Where in the world is Dalia Garcia

It turns out Dr. Stein asked for Mr. Parker at the behest of Parker’s ex gal Shelia, who is now the doctor’s wife. Complicating things even more unnecessarily, Shelia also requested they call in Parker’s former best buddy Cody who may be a hell of a marksman but he also ran off with Shelia when she decided to leave poor Bill. The soap operaish love rectangle will have to wait because there are more important things going on. Stein has not heard from his team of scientists at his secret Amazonian research base in a week. They were looking into the harm done to the human mind and body thanks to excessive exposure to the sun made possible by damage to the ozone. Dr. Stein fears for his research and wants Bill to lead all of them into the outpost and make sure no foreign element has gotten their hands on his findings.

God, his neck must be swimming in sweat

So it’s off into the…ahem… Amazon for the ragtag group of idiots. There’s plenty of talk about feelings along the way and Stein also gives us a helpful update about how we’re destroying the world and in a years time the Amazon will be uninhabitable thanks to the sun’s radiation. We find out Shelia left Bill because she won’t let anyone get in the way of her career and then she left Cody shortly after. Everybody seems to reconcile on the trip and Dalia Garcia takes her top off, so I guess you could say the hike was a complete success.

Michael Winslow… man of action

When the team gets to the base they find signs of a struggle and blood. Bill Parker, the professional that he is, figures out that something went down there and exercises caution in investigating. More blood is found as well as the body of one of the researchers. It seems he killed himself and had developed lupus. The Stein couple get to autopsying as everyone else looks around the base. They discover the mutilated corpse of another doctor and realize that someone (or something!) is probably still in the base and is dangerous as all hell.

Ma-ma-ma-ma MOOOOOONSTER!!!

Michael Winslow gets murdered first and Dr. Stein proves to be a real piece of shit. It turns out the killer is plagued by the unfortunate combination of lupus and schizophrenia. He ain’t actually a werewolf, he just believes he is. Added to the fact that he’s one big bad dude, well, ya got yourself a killing machine. The doctor believes he can get to the bottom of things by studying the climate change insanity and he ain’t above murdering to guarantee he gets his way. It’s up to Bill Parker to deal with all this crap and even someone as experienced as himself may just have his hands full.

Mr. Winslow does the perfect impression of someone voiding their bowels…oh

Lycanthrope is a wretched film but in the best way possible. Bad acting? Oh my you better believe it. Although Robert Carradine is his usual mix a nasally cool and sarcasm and Michael Winslow is as believable a bad ass as I am a sexy Asian woman, the rest of the cast either overacts to the point of mugging or comes off as a robot in the middle of shutting down. Except for Dalia Garcia, who really should have had an extensive career in trash films but that may be based completely on her looks…I was crushing pretty hard.

She got that “science face”

Bullshit science? Sit your ass down! You know this script was barely researched. Rolling in the justifiable global warming fears which have been prevalent far longer than a lot of people realize and combining them with mental disorders was either a stroke of genius or the machinations of someone who realized last minute that he had no reason for his “monster” to exist. If you watch the movie I’m sure you’ll lean towards the latter. But bullshit science runs rampant throughout the genre so I’m not complaining at all.

Ah yes…lupus

There’s a lot wrong with this movie but I think there’s more wrong with me because I actually enjoyed the hell out of it. So here I am, unable to look away from myself. Why does some hastily put together horror flick deserve my love when there’s plenty of cinema out there I just “haven’t had the time for”? Am I doing this right? The answer: of course I am. None of this matters at all. Michael Winslow made sound effects with his mouth in the Tennessee woods and got paid for it. I watched him do this twenty years later during a fit of insomnia and felt better about my life. Everybody wins. 6/10


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