The TSL’s Horror Grindhouse: Wolves at the Door (dir by John Leonetti)

I’m really not sure what to make of Wolves at the Door.

I knew the film was inspired by the crimes of Charles Manson and his family before I watched the film.  Not only was Wolves at the Door specifically advertised as being “Inspired by The Infamous Manson Family Murder Spree” but just check out the plot description that was provided by Warner Bros:

Four friends gather at an elegant home during the Summer of Love, 1969. Unbeknownst to them, deadly visitors are waiting outside. What begins as a simple farewell party turns to a night of primal terror as the intruders stalk and torment the four, who struggle for their lives against what appears to be a senseless attack.

The Manson Family have inspired a countless number of films, so that’s not really an issue.  Almost all of those films either presented Manson and his followers as being the epitome of evil or they told stories that were heavily and obviously fictionalized.

Wolves at the Door, however, is different.  Other than in some news footage that is shown during the end credits, Manson is not seen in the film.  For that matter, the members of the Family don’t get much screen time either.  Mostly, they’re just seen as shadows, creeping down hallways and sometimes materializing in a doorway before vanishing.  There’s no mention of Helter Skelter or the Beatles.  I’d have to rewatch the film to say for sure but I think it’s possible that we only hear them say one or two words over the course of the entire movie.

Instead, Wolves at the Door spends most of its running time with the victims of the Manson Family, following them as they are unknowingly stalked inside of a Los Angeles mansion.  Usually, in a film like this, you would expect the names to be changed but, for some reason, that doesn’t happen in Wolves At The Door.

So, Katie Cassidy plays a pregnant actress who is named Sharon.

Elizabeth Henstridge plays a coffee heiress who is named Abigail.

Adam Campbell plays Abigail’s Polish boyfriend, who is named Wojciech.

Miles Fisher plays a hairdresser who is named Jay and who just happens to be Sharon’s ex-boyfriend.

And, finally, Lucas Adams plays a teenager stereo enthusiast named Steven, who just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Speaking as someone who loves horror and who has defended some of the most critically derided films of all time, everything about Wolves at the Door just feels icky, tacky, and wrong.  Many grindhouse horror films have been inspired by actual crimes but most of them at least changed the names of the victims.   You really have to wonder just what exactly the filmmakers were thinking here.

(Then again, just two years ago, NBC greenlit a show called Aquarius, which could have just as easily been called “The Adventures of Young Charlie Manson.”)

It’s not just that Wolves at the Door is offensive.  In fact some of the best movies of all time were specifically designed to be offensive.  The problem with Wolves at the Door is that it’s also just a very shoddy film.  (In fact, if the film had been well-made, it wouldn’t be quite as offensive.)  Though the actors may be talented, they’re let down by a script that’s full of some of the clunkiest dialogue that I’ve ever heard.  Though the soundtrack may feature some good songs, they’re still the same damn songs that show up in every movie set in 1969.  (Judging from the movies, everyone in 1969 just listened to the same five songs over and over again.)  Though the movie itself is only 73 minutes long, it is so abysmally paced that it feels much, much longer.

Sadly, this film was directed by John Leonetti, who did a pretty good job with Annabelle.  Again, I’m not sure what exactly he or anyone else was thinking with Wolves at the Door, which I’m going to go ahead and declare to be the worst film of 2017.  I know that the year isn’t over yet but I just can’t imagine anything as bad as this.

6 Trailers Beyond Imagination

Hi, Lisa Marie here!  I apologize for taking last week off but have no fear and let not your heart be troubled — I have returned and I’ve brought with me another edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film trailers!  (And I’ve also returned with a few trailer kitties, as well…)

1) The Hunger (1983)

Tony Scott, R.I.P.

2) Aenigma (1987)

From director Lucio Fulci comes a film about psychic powers and killer slugs.  Agck!

3) Dolly Dearest (1991)

This is what happens when you build a toy factory next door to Satan’s grave.

4) Godmonster of Indian Flats (1973)

Killer sheep!

5) Rattlers (1976)

If it’s not the sheep, it’s the snakes…

6) The Lollipop Girls In Hard Candy (1976)

In 3-D! 

What do you think, trailer kitties?

6 Trailers That Will Save The World

Welcome to another edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation trailers.

1) Psychomania (1971)

Also known as the Death Wheelers.  This is one of those trailer that can pretty much speak for itself.  (Though I will point out that co-star George Sanders committed suicide shortly after filming completed.)

2) 10 Violent Women (1982)

Not surprisingly, this movie was directed by Ted V. Mikels.  What makes this trailer memorable (for me) is the blandly cheerful narration.  I don’t know who that is providing the narration but you hear his voice a lot as you explore the world of grindhouse trailers.

3) The Twilight People (1973)

Made in the Philippines (as were many exploitation films in the 60s and 70s — I always expect to hear someone say, “Made in the Philippines — where life is cheap!” whenever I watch one of these trailers), The Twilight People is best remembered for featuring Pam Grier as the Panther Woman.  I love how the trailers for Filipino exploitation films always seem to promise us that we’re in for “blood…blood…and more blood!” like some nightmarish 1950s feminine hygiene film.

4) Cop Killers (1973)

Do you think we killed niiiiiiine people for nuthin, maaaaan?”  This trailer plays like one of the many “fake” grindhouse trailers that every toadsucker on Youtube is making nowadays.  (And, by the way, that trend is getting increasingly obnoxious as it’s obvious that a lot of these trailers are being made by jerks who have never even seen a genuine grindhouse film.)  However, Cop Killers is a real film and this is a real trailer.  Every time I go down to Half-Price books, I come across the DVD for this movie.  They want $9.00 for it.  And every time, I end up grabbing this DVD, planning on buying it, just to then come across a movie or book that I want more.  So, I haven’t seen Cop Killers yet but I’m sure that eventually, I’ll break down and get it.

5) Convoy Busters (1978)

Feel bad for all those cops getting killed Cop Killers?  Don’t worry, the fraternity of blue meanies got their revenge in plenty of other films, including this 1978 Italian film.  Convoy Busters was directed by Ruggero Deodat0 (of Cannibal Holocaust and House On The Edge of the Park fame) and is also known as Cop on Fire.  (Apparently, it was retitled to take advantage of the international success of Sam Peckinpah’s Convoy.)

6) The Psychic (1977)

This is the (very) American trailer for Lucio Fulci’s Murder To The Tune of Seven Black Notes.  This film is actually one of Fulci’s more subtle and interesting films and, considering that it’s a Fulci film without zombies or a huge amount of gore —  it has a surprisingly large number of fans (including Quentin Tarantino).  At the time of its release, however, it failed at the box office and so hurt Fulci’s reputation that the producers of Zombi 2 were able to hire him cheap whereas previously, they wouldn’t have been able to afford him.  Hence, it can be argued that the success of Zombi 2 was directly the result of the failure of The Psychic.  (That’s what we call the circle of life.)