Thursday, November 27, 2014

Review: Full Eclipse (1993)

Werewolves. Anyone who knows me knows that when it comes to monsters I am all about werewolves. The furry creatures have fascinated me from a very young age and I can tell you many things about them and the different kinds there are. I have a favourite transformation scene from a werewolf film, a favourite werewolf comic book character, and even have some werewolf characters I created myself during my teen years. But I do often get disappointed when things end up being touted as being about them when they end up not being about them at all. For example, there's a certain book series that got really popular with female readers that I was told had werewolves in it. On a recommendation I read the entire series and do you know what I found? Not a single werewolf. Nope, instead it had skinwalkers, which are not the same.

There are movies about this series now, but I've had enough disappointment.

So you can imagine how I felt when, while researching Anthony Hickox Week, I discovered that he directed a werewolf film. I was intrigued, to say the least. Although, looking at the cover of the DVD left me with reservations. Why? Because the people on there looked less like werewolves and more like vampire ninjas. But, as I had dedicated myself to writing about the works of Anthony Hickox and also watching every werewolf film at least once, I knew I had to give it a chance. After all, it at least promised to be seeped in the classic action movie formula I grew up on. It stars Mario Van Peebles in his prime, so I figured it had to have some decent action scenes if nothing else. When you also toss in Bruce Payne? Well, it's just begging me to watch it now. So, let's go prowling for some werewolves.

Not shirtless abbed out skinwalkers, but werewolves.
The movie focuses on Max Dire, a cop who is really good at his job, but also has a way of letting his job haunt him. It's ruining his marriage, stressing him out immensely, and in the opening scene his partner ends up getting shot several times while they try to stop a hostage situation in a night club. With his best friend laying in a hospital dying, it's fair to say he's not in the best frame of mind when he's at his marriage counseling session. But someone in a police uniform injects his partner with some mysterious fluid, and he's alive and well the very next day. It appears to quite literally be a miracle cure. Obviously, his buddy is a werewolf now. I mean, come on, we know what we're getting into here. When a drive-by shooting occurs, his partner chases the car down, shoot the driver, then chases the remaining shooters when they flee on a motorcycle. He tosses one off and rams the other one into a wall, blowing up the motorcycle and coming out none the worse for wear. Max is just a wee bit weirded out by this.

If he thinks that's weird, just wait until he becomes Wolverine in the second act.
When realizing finally what he's become, his partner does the rational thing. He makes a silver bullet and commits suicide right in front of his best friend in the local cop bar. Well, that's a downer. This movie is getting too heavy too fast for me. I was expecting something lighter than seeing someone commit suicide. Anyway, Max gets contacted by Adam Garou, a man who ranks rather highly in the force. Garou tells him he can help him with his troubles, he just needs to come to meet a group of similar cops he offers treatment to. Max isn't really buying it, because clearly the counseling isn't helping his marriage, but he goes anyway. There he meets the others and learns the go out and partake in vigilante missions to take down criminals who are ruining the streets. But before doing so, they all inject themselves with a very familiar liquid. I see where this is going.

WEREWOLF FORCE!!! HELL YEAH!
Max tells Garou he's not interested after seeing them tear through the party full of criminals and he tries to tell his boss about these shenanigans that are going on. But the boss seems to be pro-shenanigans and tells him that he's being transferred to Garou's unit. Well, shit. He gets curious after hearing the blonde werewolf lady talk about the pack and investigates him partner's body, finding the silver bullet lodged in his head. Now I'm back to feeling bad about his partner. Guess he better go fuck that blonde werewolf lady. Yeah, that's what happens. He goes to Garou's place and Casey, said blonde werewolf lady, rather easily seduces him while trying to convince him to shoot up with the mysterious liquid they use. Rather than taking the stuff he instead learns that werewolves like doggy style too. But, undeterred, she shoots him and uses the stuff on him to prove to him that it's good as it saves him from bleeding out. They then go on a trial run, taking down a narcotics lab together while all wolfed out. Also, them wolfing out is essentially them turning into dimestore Wolverine clones.

They're the best at what they do and what they do may end in a lawsuit from Marvel Comics.
One of the criminals manages to escape the bloodbath though and scurries to his boss, informing him of what happened (more or less). The boss informs him that he should take Garou and his unit out permanently. Back at Garou's place, he finds the scent of Max and Casey there and apparently isn't fan of smelling sex and candy, as he gets rather annoyed. How annoyed? Well, he attacks and rapes her when she returns, because he's supposed to be the alpha of their pack and she belongs to him. I have seen a lot of things in movies, but I never expected to see werewolf rape. Werewolf sex, sure, but this is my first werewolf rape scene. It's quite uncomfortable too, but luckily isn't very long. The other cops throw a big birthday party for Max where his estranged wife shows up to try and reconcile, butMax loses himself and nearly rapes her. Man, this movie is awfully rape-happy. This ends though when Garou and the pack show up and take him off with them. Later that night, the group gathers together (including Max) to go out killing criminals, but as soon as they crank up the truck it explodes and the previous criminal who escaped admires his handiwork. Too bad for him though, as werewolves tend to be hard to kill and they walk out of the wreckage to go slaughter him and his men.

You can't just blow up Bruce Payne. He's a werewolf! And a warlock! And that weird bald guy with blue lips from Dungeons & Dragons!
They return to the station where they return the steering wheel of the truck, saying they need a new one, but Garou gets called off to meet with the bossman. Meanwhile, Max gets to meet a guy in lockup who has been ranting about Garou, who turns out to be a former pack member from another city who tells him that Garou killed all the others. Only he escaped and he's in rough shape, as the liquid is not only addictive but it slowly degrades your body over time. Garou shows and shoots him, which sparks our hero to do some much needed research on him. It turns out that he's been in a great many cities over the years, cleaning up crime, but every time his units turned up dead. He goes to confront him and try to sway the others, resulting in one actually having second thoughts which in turn leads to Garou ripping his throat out with his teeth. Ouch. It turns out that Max caught him in his little secret, learning that he didn't create the chemical that turns them into werewolves...it's his cranial fluid. Ewwww. Casey put some of that on her tongue earlier! Oh well, I'm sure it's not the first of Garou's bodily fluids to pass her lips. Two of the group stay loyal, but Casey decides to bail with Max out the window.

This turns out to be a pretty bad idea on her part.
She gets seriously injured, as it seems she's been refraining from taking her injections, so she is dying. Max tries to get her to take the injection, but she says he should take it so he can heal quickly and confront Garou. This right here though? This is stupid. Clearly he's well enough to survive long enough to go get another dose, so why not save her? I dislike this bit, it's just silly and melodramatic. Regardless, he does take it and gets some silver bullets and a syringe full of silver nitrate. He tries to stop Garou, but find he's too late and that he's left after shooting the chief, who had had enough of his shenanigans finally. He confronts Garou once more, letting us see the carnage the werewolf cops have wreaked, shooting him in the chest with a silver bullet. But the bullet doesn't kill him, as he then explains that during the lunar eclipse that is currently occurring, he is invincible. The other two pack members try to stop Garou, as it seems they finally are having a sudden crisis of conscience, but he kills them both after turning into a full-fledged werewolf.

He may be one of the dopiest looking werewolves I have ever seen though.

He then pursues Max as they fight atop a shipping container, eventually leading to Max injecting him with the silver nitrate as the eclipse ends and them both falling. Garou dies, pleading with Max that he take his blood into himself and continue his work fighting crime, and we see Max three years later where he seems to be doing just that alongside his wife, who is also now a werewolf too. Well, how about that? And we see him looking at the lunar cycle, preparing for the night when they will undoubtedly go clean up crime together. The end!

I hope she takes those earrings off first though. I just can't take a werewolf seriously wearing those big hoops.
My first thought? It's not one of Hickox's best. It is entertaining, sure, but it doesn't quite hold a candle to the charm of the last two films I covered. It also feels like Mario Van Peebles was kind of wasted here, as the action scenes are often generic shoot-outs and very little hand-to-hand combat. What does work well here though is Bruce Payne, who dominates the film as Garou. He plays such a great antagonist in this film, sometimes even reminding me of Sir Anthony Hopkins' portrayal of Hannibal Lecter. He truly embraces the role in a way no other actor in the movie seems able to manage. If there is really any reason to see this movie, it's for Bruce Payne.

He creeped me out so much in the rape scene that I felt like I need to shower afterwards.
The final verdict? While it is a flawed film overall, being dragged down with scenes that made no sense and characters who are largely uninteresting, it works by having a genuinely threatening villain who steals every scene he's in. If you're a fan of werewolves, this movie with likely let you down a bit. But if you're a fan of truly interesting villains who both disturb and entice, you will enjoy this one. Bruce Payne is worth the price of admission. So, until this movie gets remade with Taylor Lautner in the lead role, I'll be here thanking all the unholy lords for Bruce Payne's acting talent. Later days, bleeders.

Seriously, there is no reason that she had to die. Lame.

1 comment:

  1. I remember dying to see this when it came out. Then I saw it. I'm still healing from its wounds.

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