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Battledogs

USA 2013
produced by
David Michael Latt, David Rimawi (executive) for The Asylum/SyFy
directed by Alexander Yellen
starring Dennis Haysbert, Ernie Hudson, Kate Vernon, Ariana Richards, Craig Sheffer, Wes Studi, Bill Duke, Benjamin James, Anthony Pacella, Robert S. Bates, Mu-Shaka Benson, Robert Bozek, Darin Cooper, Andrew Elias, Mel Ende, Afrim Gjonbalaj, Cameron Gordon, Wayne W. Johnson, Peace Kelly, Sherri Lyn Litz, Rich Lounello, Patrick Mallette, Michelle Meer, Karl Myles, Joe Narode, Seregon O'Dassey, Mick O'Keefe, Debbie Rochon, Rodney Roldan, Giovanni Roselli, Frank Rossi, Jayson Simba, Brian Staps, Jay Storey, A.J. Verel, Brandyn T. Williams, Michael Sciabarrasi
written by Shane Van Dyke, music by Chris Ridenour, Chis Cano, visual effects by Joseph J. Lawson, assistant director: Gregory Lamberson

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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There's something seriously wrong at the New York JFK airport - wolves have attacked and killed dozens of passengers, and not just any wolves but ... werewolves. Fortunately the army steps in and manages to round up all the werewolves, stun them and ship them off to a quarantine center across the East River (actually Buffalo Central Terminal, a quite impressive art deco building located somewhere completely else - but a great backdrop nevertheless). At the quarantine center, soon two fractions within the army employees start to form: On one side there's General Monning (Dennis Haysbert) and his second-in-command Parkins (Benjamin James), who want to locate the werewolf virus to create lupine soldiers, on the other there's good guy Major Hoffman (Craig Sheffer) and Dr Gordon (Kate Vernon), who actually want to contain the lycanthropic infection and turn all the werewolf into normal humans again. Of course, Monning would love to just get Hoffman out of the way, but Hoffman is his only chance to find patient zero ... which he does with the help of airport security chief Stevens (Ernie Hudson) - and it's of course cute, courageous and totally innocent Donna Voorhees (Ariana Richards), a wildlife photographer who has been bitten by a werewolf on one of her excursions and whom Hoffman has befriended since.

Once she's revealed to be patient zero, Monning pretty much wants her taken apart because she has the antivirus in her (actually there's a werewolf tooth inside her body), but then she turns into a werewolf during surgery and all hell breaks loose, and all the other quarantined infected turn into werewolves, break out, and invade Manhattan. Only Donna can actually be calmed down and turned back into a human again by ... Hoffman's good nature I suppose - but now she's number one on Monning's hitlist. However, Hoffman, Donna and the doc manage to escape the quarantine center and make it to Manhattan themselves (not sure why), where they actually have their final confrontation with Monning and company (who are ultimately all taken apart by other werewolves) - and then the president (Bill Duke) orders Manhattan to be bombed to Kingdom Come to contain the werewolf disease. Now our heroes have to get off the island in time, and with the werewolf tooth that contains the formula for the antidote too, and they have to prevent Manhattan from being bombed.

Of course everything ends happily, but not without a few explosions - oh, and Donna is allowed to die a heroine's death!

For some reason, genre icon Debbie Rochon, probably the most talented actress in the cast and most certainly the most prolific and most respected within the genre crowd, is reduced to the role of a police officer with hardly two lines in this movie ...

 

By and large, you might want to call this movie routine, as it's another sci fi/horror/action hybrid as shown on SyFy, without too much emphasis on atmosphere or shocks (so far for the horror aspects), or actual visions (regarding the science fiction aspects), instead concentrating on the spectacle (if on a budget). That said, the film has a few interesting aspects: It is not carried by the same unquestioned patriotism many bigger budgeted pictures of its ilk are but remains critical of the army throughout, despite several leaps of reason, the narrative buildup is quite ok, and even if the Buffalo Central Terminal is not in the slightest located where the film would want it to be (but honestly, would you have known if I hadn't told you?), it's quite an impressive and underused location.

That all said, the film still is not a hidden masterpiece, not a diamond in the rough even. Basically, it lacks the budget to tell a story of its scale, its werewolves look ridiculously ratlike and are much too obviously computer-generated to come off as threatening, and most other CGI effects (like the bombing of the Manhattan bridges or a whole neighbourhood) are fine as an idea but look way too much straight-out-of-a-videogame to get any real feeling across - get me crappy miniature work instead of this anytime, really.

In all, SyFy has definitely shown worse genre flicks (way worse in fact), but that hardly makes this one a classic, believe me.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD