Look, I’m as skeptical and cynical about exploitation titles as anyone on the planet, but there’s simply no way I could skip watching PRESIDENT WOLFMAN. Sure, I’m the same guy who watched BLOODSUCKING PHARAOHS FROM PITTSBURGH and BARELY LEGAL LESBIAN VAMPIRES and BIKER ZOMBIES FROM DETROIT. I know that titles are not to be trusted. But, this time.. this time is going to be different. It’s called PRESIDENT WOLFMAN. This is something that must be seen.
To my surprise, PRESIDENT WOLFMAN isn’t as much a film as it is a unique comedic exercise in the vein of WHAT’S UP TIGER LILY. Compiled from public domain films (most notably the Dean Stockwell-starring WEREWOLF OF WASHINGTON) and stock footage, the film has been edited together and re-dubbed (with the occasional digital addition) to tell an entirely original – and entirely off-the-wall – story. It’s aided by a top-notch voice-cast, most notably THRILLING ADVENTURE HOUR pro Marc Evan Jackson as the titular President Wolfman.
This method of re-purposing old footage as new entertainment has been titled “green movies” by Stag Films head Mike Davis, who spearheaded the entire PRESIDENT WOLFMAN concept with the help of a successful Kickstarter campaign. Davis also wrote the dialogue, which runs the gamut from terrible puns, ridiculous non-sequitors, toilet humor and sly political commentary – though mostly those first three. It makes for an entertaining mish-mash, though it’s at its most amusing when it abandons its loose central storyline and goes off on bizarre tangents – such as the president taking his son hunting, or an extended scene of a woman giving birth in the backseat of a car.
In fact, the biggest problem with the film is that it feels obligated to tell a story at all. The plot has something to do with President John Wolfman (usually, but not always, Dean Stockwell) being bitten by a werewolf and going on a killing spree, while the vice president conspires to turn the country against him. Aside from tangents involving the president’s son and an attractive ingenue, that’s pretty much it. It gives plenty of opportunities for dubbed silliness, but these lengthy scenes of conversation live and die by the quality of the dialogue. One sequence will have several laugh out loud moments, while the next will be a complete dud. It’s this inconsistency that plagues the entire film, though it has to be considered an accomplishment that even a rough plot could be whittled out considering the pieced together nature of the production.
Thankfully more than just a cinematic experiment, PRESIDENT WOLFMAN proves that this “green movie” idea actually has plenty of potential. With some stronger writing and more of a willingness to experiment with odd tangents, this could have been something truly special. As is, it’s still incredibly impressive, and often hilarious, though too inconsistent to strongly recommend. Still, I’m awfully curious to see what Davis has up his sleeve next, as he’s obviously hit upon a fascinating way to mash-up and re-appropriate old footage as new entertainment.
Three Nightmares out of Five = Shows Potential
One Nightmare – No-Budget Perfection, Two Nightmares – Shocking Success, Three Nightmares – Shows Potential, Four Nightmares – Not Much Fun, Five Nightmares – Please Kill Me
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