On Its 20th Anniversary

By AL J. Vermette

The year was 1987 as a new broadcasting network was getting ready to launch over the free air waves in the spring of that year. The new channel was the FOX network, a new up-start channel and the first one to debut nation wide in almost 30 years. The good people at the new network which over lapped the local stations was looking for new and wonderful new shows to air in their eight to Ten spot each night starting with the weekend time slot. Among the TV shows for this hungry new network some of which would become legends as others would land in TV land abyss never to be heard from again. Shows like "Married With Children," "21 Jump Street" (which brought the world a young Johnny Demp) "Duet" and "The Tracy Ullman Show" (Where "The Simpsons" made their TV debut before getting their own show and are still on the air 20 years later. Among the new weekend lineup was a little horror genre show that made a big impact with its one season run from July 11th 1987 to May 1988. The show was "Werewolf" and for its true diehard fans (Like Me) we have never forgotten it over the last 20 years.

"Werewolf" followed the story of a young collage student named Eric Cord played by John J. York who was the all American boy before being bitten by a werewolf who was also his roommate and best friend. Now young Eric becomes a monster soon after the bleeding pentagram appears in his right hand setting off the transformation into the werewolf. After having sadly killed his friend in the attack Eric is now wanted for murder and goes on the run endlessly in search of the werewolf who turned his buddy into a werewolf in hopes by killing him it will end the bloodline of the beast and free him of the curse. But our young lycanthrope as he hunts the evil werewolf Skorzeny is hunted himself by an unstoppable bounty hunter who knows what Eric becomes nightly and dose so with silver bullets.

The show made its world debut on FOX with a two hour movie which gave intro to all the main players and then followed up with 29 episodes running just one year. The show played out in the same vain as the past shows "The Fugitive" and "The Incredible Hulk" with Eric moving from town to town meeting new people and getting involve in their life before like in the case of the Hulk he would turn into the creature within him and in some cases help the needy and unlike the Hulk kill the evil. Ericís good nature would for the most part keep the beast at bay and not harm good people but he did however rip apart those of who were bad. This fight within him moved the show along and didnít sugar coat things with a werewolf who didnít hurt or kill anyone at all like the creature was a saint or goodie two shoes werewolf or something. Oh no this beast did kill and not just people but other lycanthropes as well that he came across in his quest to rid himself of he thing within him. Yet the Eric wolf donít just kill just to make a kill, there are many bystanders around him and he will not just rip people apart for fun unlike the evil werewolf will do.

"Werewolf" was the creation of long time TV show producer and writer Frank Lupo who has brought to the airwaves hits like "The A-Team," "Hunter," "Wiseguy" and "Riptide." It is said that Lupo came up with the idea for "Werewolf" when he was in the shower and soon after pitching the shows concept to his long time partner John Ashley the two took the idea to FOX who loved the storylines of the good and bad werewolves. The transformations and make-up for the show were handled by Greg Cannom who turned York and Connors into their lycanthropes and then there were the creatures themselves. They were just stunning even by todayís standards as the complete wolf suits were designed by master monster maker Rick Baker who we all know did the F/X for "An American Werewolf In London and created the Big Foot of "Harry And The Hendersonís" among others. Each wolf sported moveable jaws, ears and eyes giving the creatures some rang of emotion on a low budget and although maybe not as well designed as Harryís Big Foot for "Werewolf" and it being 80s TV they worked fine enough to pull it off. The fur of the wolf suits were all hand stitched by experts from England who turned Bakerís designs into a reality.

The Eric werewolf was big with brown shaggy hair with a great lion like mane jetting from the things head and down its back. Long Paw like claws for its hands as the beast walked up right and on all fours. The evil Skorzeny wolf was bigger then Eric and was jet black with many of the same features of the other wolf but with longer sharper and nastier teeth and a face that look like the werewolf disease had been eating away at the much older werewolf for many, many years. The two creatures did clash a few times claw to claw with the evil Skorzeny wolf always coming out the victor but these creatures are hard to kill even by one of their own kind. In-fact Lupoís lycanthropes all were immortal and although Eric hated being what he was on a few episodes he was indeed glad to be so-called cursed when more then one gun toting nut tried to murder him. Yeah these werewolves were real bad asses and in Lupoís story lines the only why to kill one off was by a silver weapon or bullet or the killing bite of another werewolf.

Lupoís show also didnít have the creatures governed by the light of the full moon as in other werewolf films and tales. For his show the transformation was brought on by the impending nightfall and always after the appearance of a pentagram that showed in the soon to be werewolf hand. This was the sign of things to come and as the change neared the circled star would fill with blood giving Eric his warning that the change was soon to be. But it was not until the pentagram began to bleed that triggered to the man to beast transformation and unleashed the creature within him.

One of the things that drew viewers in each week on the shows Saturday and then Sunday night showings was the never ending search for the evil wolf Skorzeny played in his human form by actor Chuck Connors. His hulking one eyed villain was scary as hell even before becoming the monster and was the complete reverse of the good boy Ericís character. Like things just couldnít get any worse for the young lycanthrope he has deep voiced actor Lance LeGault as bounty hunter Alamo Joe after him who is obsessed with bringing in Cord dead or aliveÖhuman or other. Despite the fact that Connors enjoyed playing Skorzeny he was said to be a pain in the ass on set and was removed from the show early on in the shows run. From then on only his werewolf counter part was used as the character as with the use of body doubles in human form played by look-a-like actors. Later in the series the Skorzeny wolf was at last found and killed by Eric but thinking that the werewolf bloodline was now over and his foe was the first of the line he was sadly wrong and found out that there was an even more evil lycanthrope out there who was the father of them all.

Although the people behind "Werewolf" had big plans for the show like an episode with Eric meeting a vampire and all new transformation effects with a new and better way to turn Eric into his alter ego the show was gone off the air with no and this is rare NO ever reruns shown on FOX ever again. For a spell the USA Network showed the series in reruns on Friday nights in 1989 but then that two ended and the show was never seen here in the states again. It was shown very little outside the U.S. but like here the show vanished into TV land myth with most horror and werewolf fans who grew up after the 80s never seeing it. Oddly enough and I donít understand this myself it was never brought to the Sci/Fi Channel everÖeven though the USA Network owns the Sci/Fi Channel and had the broadcasting rights to the series when they took it over from FOX.

Today "Werewolf" has become something of the Holy Grail when it comes to the lost series and although the show is not being show anywhere in a 1.000 some what cable channels we have today and has never officially been released to video and DVD the show has missed the TV world Grim Reaper by way of true fans who taped the series with VCRs all them years ago. I can only kick my own ass for not keeping the episodes that I taped in 87 but one true fan out there not only taped the whole series from TV 41in Kansas City but now has transferred it all to DVD. Now "Werewolf" (Thank God) with all 29 episodes is making its way around over the internet and showing up at horror and film conventions like "Chiller Theater" where I found mine (Oh Happy Me!).

For us fans of the show who have not seen the series in the past 20 years just or those of you who have never seen it at all just knowing that now there is copies out there floating around should bring us some peace of mind. Now I warn you that the DVDs are not of the best grad when it comes to quality viewing. The old VCR tape transfer to modern day DVD is a little grainy and the sound is ever so slightly off but hell who cares you can watch "Werewolf" againÖ.and anytime you like. What I found enjoyable was since the show was taped form airing of the show by the fan that recorded it there are more then one voice over at the end of the show over the closing credits of promos for the next show coming up such as "Married With Children" and other shows. For me it was like reliving 1987 and 88 all over again.

Sadly when "Werewolf" went off the air Eric Cord still didnít find a way to end his nightly torment and the show never did try and bring back the "Werewolf" players for a closing movie of the week or something like that. A six issue comic book adaptation based on the series did surface but that too also went the way of the main series and is now also among "Werewolf" fan lore. Maybe some day the powers that be will officially release the series on DVD for the masses and I have heard a biz about the Horror Channel picking up the show but we will see. Still for us long time fans of this past 20 years and counting we have never ever forgotten the show that we so loved and as for the whole series on DVD that I so guard with my lifeÖI have two sets of the series just in case one runs off into the night to hunt.

four comments:

Werewolf is also being shown on Joost which is downloadable from Joost.com. There is an unnofficial website for the show athttp://www.werewolftv.com
Nauticalrocker08 () - March 25 2008 - 10:57

Thanks! I’ve been looking for this show forever.
Steve - July 23 2008 - 14:38

werewolf did air on chiller for awhile about2yrs. ago. Unfortunatley i missed the 1st 4 or five episodes.Mabey someone should try to convince them to re-air it in it’s entirety huh?
John () - March 21 2009 - 01:24

i would love to get a copy of the series know anyone selling copies cant find it anywere
steve () - October 20 2009 - 00:35

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