Follow TV Tropes


Film / Werewolf

Go To
The DVD cover, which looks more impressive than the actual movie.

"I don't know, you had it last!"

Werewolf, also known as Arizona Werewolf, is a 1996 direct-to-video horror film probably best known for being a magnet for mockery (more on that below) and its low production values.

Archaeologists working in Arizona find a werewolf skeleton. In this film, werewolves are part of American Indian mythology, which the head archaeologist Noel (Richard Lynch) calls a skin-walker or yee naaldlooshii (which somehow gets pronounced "yottaglanchi"). And apparently werewolves take on habits such as "sleeping nose to anus". note 

...that's a quote from the film, by the way.

The first ten minutes or so of the film shows one of the crew getting scratched by the skeleton and eventually turning into a werewolf who is quickly put down by other members of the crew (including one played by Joe Estevez). However, the ill-tempered foreman of the dig site, Yuri (played by Jorge Rivero), took some of his blood and soon becomes fascinated with the idea of creating a "man-made" werewolf. Soon after the first werewolf gets put down, a writer named Paul Niles (Federico Cavalli) moves into a house in suburban Flagstaff and becomes close to another of the archaeologists, Natalie Burke (Adrianna Miles). As the two make nice at a party, Yuri makes his first attempt at werewolf creation via an ill-fated security guard (played by the film's director, Tony Zarindast), who promptly crashes his car mid-transformation and dies. However, Yuri's growing dislike for Paul turns into an opportunity when the two men fight at the lab where the werewolf skeleton is housed and Yuri stabs Paul with the skull. Soon, Paul finds himself becoming a werewolf at night and menacing the entire town. Events come to a head when he's finally revealed to both Natalie and Yuri, as the former has fallen in love with him, while the latter just wants to cage him up and make money off of him.


The movie remained mostly obscure until it became the feature of a 1998 episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Werewolf was noteworthy for having been released only two years previous to the MST3K episode mocking it, making it the most recent film the series tackled,note  as well as one of the only films they riffed that was created during the run of the show itself. Mike Nelson and his robot friends made considerable light of the clumsy direction of the film, the relatively cheap, inconsistent nature of the werewolf costumes, Adrianna Miles' bad English and her constant pronunciation of the word werewolf as wuhr-welf, about the full moon occurring every single night in the movie, the fact that Yuri has a different hairstyle in almost every scene, the fact that the security guard drove past the same location several times while a werewolf, and the fact that almost all the cast – despite playing Americans – spoke with various thick accents, saying such phrases as "you and Noel is in it for fame and fortune? But over my dead body!" Because of the numerous ripe opportunities for riffing, Kevin Murphy, who played Tom Servo, referred to the film as "a gift from God". Mike and the Bots also sing various songs to the film's closing credit music, in the style of Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk".


Bizarrely similar to Track of the Moon Beast and It Lives by Night, both of which were featured in MST3K's tenth and final season. Hell, Moon Beast is even about a guy named Paul in the southwestern United States being turned into a monster in a manner that ties into Native American folklore while his ditzy ladyfriend does pretty much nothing relevant to the plot. Both movies also feature supporting characters making perplexing references to Dracula.

Not to be confused with the card game or the 1987 TV series of the same name.

See the rundown of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode here.

Tropes used in Werewolf:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Yuri is a male version for Natalie.
  • Ac CENT Upon The Wrong Syl LA Ble: Both Yuri and especially Natalie do this a lot.
    Natalie: This doesn't look like any conventional animal I'M familiar with!
    Yuri: Hey, Geronimo! I said get BACK to work!
  • Affably Evil: Noel is a generally nice and levelheaded man, especially compared to Yuri. But he's still willing to sacrifice Paul and anyone he might kill in exchange for the "fame and fortune" a "modern man-made werewolf" might bring him.
  • Artistic License – Biology: For some reason, the werewolf skull has ears.
  • Artistic License – Space: There is a full moon for several nights in a row. The only way this would be possible is the moon somehow stopped in its orbit, in which case it should have gotten pulled into Earth's gravity and killed everyone.
  • Badass Bystander: A random citizen manages to kick Werewolf!Paul's ass. So much for the horror.
  • Bones Do Not Belong There: The werewolf skeleton has bone ears that curve downward to look like floppy dog's ears.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: There are a couple moments where Yuri looks at the camera, almost expecting a reaction.
    Crow: (as Yuri) Well folks, whaddaya think? Should I follow him?
  • Creator Cameo: Director Tony Zarindast as Vic, the security guard who gets turned into a werewolf and crashes his car.
  • Crazy Survivalist/Crusty Caretaker: Sam the Keeper, of "I just heard Count Dracula was a faggot!" fame. He's practically a one-man Wacky Wayside Tribe, really; he's unimpeachably bizarre, there's no reason for him to be in the movie and he has no effect on the plot, and yet the movie would be NOTHING without him.
    • Dirty Coward: He's also remarkably little girl-ish in the face of danger.
  • Deadly Scratch: A mere scratch from an ancient werewolf skeleton is enough to begin the Viral Transformation.
  • (Almost) Death By Sex: Natalie gets turned into a werewolf by doing the nasty with a lycanthropizing Paul.
  • Dull Surprise: "Dis is ubsolutely fesscinating."
  • '80s Hair: Despite the film being made in the mid-'90s.
  • Establishing Character Moment: In the very first scene the archaeologists uncover the werewolf skeleton. When one of them accidentally steps on the skeleton Yuri immediately starts beating the crap out of him.
  • Establishing Shot: An overly-long one of a building prompts Tom Servo to say "Man, they're establishing the hell out of this building here!" on MST3K.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin
  • For Science!: Why is Yuri making people into werewolves? Because that's the plot.
    • If you squint, you might be able to see that Noel and Yuri think the whole "warwelf" thing will make them celebrities and ensure enough money to continue their research for as long as they want. It still doesn't explain why Yuri goes around jabbing random security guards with werewolf blood.
      Natalie: You and Noel is in it for fame and fortune!
    • Yuri uses the term "modern, man-made wuhr-welf" constantly, like he's got a copyright on that term. Though, at the time he's drunk and pissed, and wants to test his theory on the security guard.
  • Frequently Full Moon: The movie has a full moon last several nights in a row.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Yuri's response to almost every situation is to get pissed and immediately start wailing on whoever makes him angry.
  • Hollywood Darkness: The depths of blue-filter night.
  • Hot Scientist: Say what you want, Adrianna Miles is one comely lass.
  • Inaction Sequence: The barroom scene.
    Crow: Not a good sign when the action in your movie is upstaged by a mural.
  • Infodump: The explanation of Werewolves early in the movie. The odd part is that it's completely irrelevant; the werewolves turn out to be nothing like Yee Naaldlooshii and exactly like the "white man's movie monster" version.
  • Informed Ability: Paul gives his occupation as a writer and yet is never once seen writing anything, even going so far as to blow off Natalie's question as to what he's working on. We get that he needed an occupation that allowed him to remain at home a lot, but couldn't they have worked in a shot of him sitting at a typewriter or something?
    Crow: Guess our hero will go back to his writing now.
    Servo: J. D. Salinger writes more than this guy.
  • I Resemble That Remark!: When Paul calls Yuri a psychopath, Yuri savagely attacks him with the skull of the werewolf.
    Yuri: You callin' me a psychopath?!?
    Crow: (as Yuri) I'll kill your whole family if you say that again!
    Mike: (as Paul) I-I'm really sorry, clearly you're not a psychopath, my mistake.
    Tom Servo: (as Yuri) Get out before my dog tells me to shoot the president!
    Mike: (as Yuri) I can't believe people call me a psycho — I'm gonna take those people's heads and carve 'em into ashtrays!
  • It's Probably Nothing
    • They also manage to make the Navajo word yataali sound like "hot toddy".
  • Jerkass: Yuri.
  • Karma Houdini: Noel is responsible for digging up the werewolf and getting Yuri to infect innocent people with lycanthropy, but apparently he gets off just fine. On the other hand, he was smart enough to not go chasing after a pissed-off werewolf while unarmed, unlike Yuri...
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Yuri gets away with turning someone into a werewolf on purpose, as well as physically assaulting multiple people. At the end, Paul (in werewolf form) tracks him down and mauls him to death.
  • Kindhearted Simpleton: Natalie is a Nice Girl, but comes across as not very bright or observant (this may be due to bad acting, rather than intentional).
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Sam states that he's one of the good guys.
  • Left the Background Music On: At one point, the background music is actually turned off by Paul when he turns off his radio.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Noel.
  • Monster Misogyny: As usual.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Natalie, especially when she wears a tight blouse while playing billiards.
    Crow: (as Natali) People say "rack" to me a lot. Why?
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Easily subverted. "Paul, you is a wur-wilf!"
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Sam, the keeper, looks a lot like Fidel Castro and acts a lot like a nutcase.
    • "Not Bob Vila! No!"
    • "Basquiat is in danger!"
    • "Brooks & Dunn finally have it out!"
  • Noisy Nature: Wolf/coyote howls punctuate the audio.
  • Our Yee Naaldlooshii Are Different: Even getting scratched by the bones of one can infect you, and they sleep nose to anus.
    • And it's even specifically claimed early in the movie by Noel that this isn't your movie monster, white man's "werewolf". Note that at no point is the yee naaldlooshii shown to be even slightly different from the standard movie werewolf dating back to The Wolf Man (1941).
    • Also, the skull has ears.
  • Paper Tiger: For deadly werewolves, neither Paul nor Tommy are shown as much of a threat. Tommy is gunned down easily not even thirty minutes in (he only kills a security guard during his escape from the hospital, and that's arguably self-defense) and Paul only kills two people over the course of the movie (one of whom he was only able to kill because she tripped and fell while running away). At one point a random dude on the street manages to fight Werewolf!Paul with his bare hands and almost wins.
    • The security guard who turns into a werewolf then promptly crashes his car and dies. To be fair, yee naaldlooshii probably aren't very good drivers...
  • Psycho for Hire: Yuri.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: At one point Natalie says "You and Noel is(sic) in this for fame and fortune?" Whether she flubbed the line and they didn't bother with another take, or if the script writer really didn't know this wasn't proper grammar is unknown.
  • She's Got Legs: Carrie.
  • Silver Bullet: Joe and his pal are somehow able to cobble together silver shotgun pellets in an evening's time to shoot their lycanthropizing buddy, Tommy. Subverted in that this doesn't kill him; he's mentioned as being hospitalized after that.
  • Skin Walker: In Name Only. The movie actually goes to some lengths to explain how a skin walker is different from a werewolf... and then the monster works exactly like a werewolf.
  • Stock Sound Effects: You will hear the screech of the red-tailed hawk more often in the course of watching "Werewolf" than during five years of The Colbert Report.
  • Token Black Friend: Elgin. The trope is so blatant as to almost be a parody.
    Mike: Elgin is my black friend.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Unlike Yuri, if you successfully create a savage werewolf, do be sure not to taunt it, won't you? And if you hear bestial growling and snarling emanating from a room, don't go inside like the landlady does (though the landlady survives the encounter anyway).
    • Also, if you are in a relatively well-protected vehicle and you have the keys to it, do NOT exit the vehicle for no reason and make yourself an easy target for the werewolf outside of the vehicle.
    • Also, Yuri was earlier shown to be, well, a psychopath; he manages to beat down all three of the diggers, and later Paul, fairly easily. A random bystander on the street almost fistfights Werewolf!Paul to a standstill. Yuri seems to forget he that he's a punch-happy psychopath when he encounters were-Paul.
    • Upon first discovering the wurwulf, Sam decides to freeze up and cry for help instead of reaching for the shotgun sitting just a few feet away from him.
  • Twist Ending: And a rather nonsensical one at that.
  • Unfazed Everyman: After Werewolf!Paul bursts out of a bar, attacks two people, and runs off into the night, two old ladies appear, step over the bodies, and enter the bar as if nothing happened.
  • Unsportsmanlike Gloating: Werewolf!Paul does this... a lot... for any reason.
  • Weird Moon: "The most stubborn full moon in the history of the world." The moon is always full in Flagstaff apparently.
  • What Happened to the Landlady?: So she gets chucked down the stairs by her lycanthropic tenant, and just... gets up and walks away. It's understandable that she'd want to get out of town, sure, but she apparently doesn't call the police, or tell Sam the Keeper or confront Paul about what happened or — or anything.
    • Also, two characters — including Joe Estevez's — disappear right after stopping the first werewolf and aren't ever referred to again.
    • Tommy, the first werewolf, is mentioned as having survived being shot with silver bullets and having been hospitalized for it but then never mentioned again.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Most of the characters, but especially Natalie.note 
  • Wraparound Background: Possibly the only live-action example, when the security guard's driving rampage passes the exact same gas station four or five times.

"Dis is ubsolutely fesscinating."