• President Wolfman (Filmfest Distribution) DVD Review

    Released by: FilmFest Distribution
    Released on: April 29th, 2020.
    Director: Mike Davis
    Cast: Anthony Jenkins, Marc Evan Jackson, Paul Alvarez, Ashley Ann, Robert R. Bloomingdale
    Year: 2012
    Purchase From Amazon

    President Wolfman – Movie Review:

    The idea of a ‘recycled movie’ is an interesting one, though it has, in a sense at least, been done before. Mike Davis’ 2012 feature, President Wolfman, owes a bit of a debt to Woody Allen’s What’s Up Tiger Lily? in that it adds new voiceover work (and a few other tweaks) to pre-existing material to create an entirely new viewing experience, but where Allen’s film still felt like a conventional movie in most ways, President Wolfman takes things to a much weirder, and more experimental, extreme.

    The story revolves around President John Wolfman (voiced by Marc Evan Jackson). He’s not only the President Of The United States, he’s also… a wolfman. In fact, since being bitten and transforming, he’s run around Washington doing a bit of killing. While dealing with this, he’s also got his hands full trying to prevent a certain segment of the D.C. establishment from selling the country to China and renaming it Chimerica. Of course, there’s more to this than just that, there’s also the matter of Wolfman’s Vice President, Mangle (Anthony Jenkins), working behind the scenes to usurp the throne and some mad scientists running about doing what mad scientists do. Will President Wolfman be able to keep America from falling even further into disarray?

    Based around the 1973 film The Werewolf Of Washington, starring Dean Stockwell and directed by Milton Moses Ginsberg, this is more than just redubbing an older feature. Davis and company have inserted bits and pieces from over a hundred other public domain and copyright free cinematic sources over the span of the movie’s eighty-minute running time, using everything from educational films to police training films to newsreel footage to clips from C-Span to 8mm black and white sex loops to Cold War era Soviet propaganda movies to, well, you get the idea. There’s an insane amount of material cut into this picture and it’s a genuinely fascinating little oddity and an impressive exercise in editing and manipulation.

    The voice work and added animations used in the film are pretty fun. The opening credits sequence is well put together, slapping you with a fist full of funk before getting down to the movie proper and doing a nice job of channeling a vintage exploitation movie vibe. It doesn’t always make a whole lot of sense and it is very clear that the team behind the movie don’t want you to take any of this the least bit seriously. At times, the movie borders on the surreal, using some of the aforementioned clips in ways that you absolutely will not see coming. The end result is as baffling as it is frequently hilarious, a very unique way to breathe new life into some old footage!

    President Wolfman – DVD Review:

    Limited by the public domain source material from which the bulk of its running time was taken, President Wolfman arrives on DVD (well, technically MOD/DVD-R) in a 1.78.1 widescreen transfer that has intentionally been manipulated to look a certain way, and that means that it looks like a seventies television broadcast. Quality of the image is intentionally degraded throughout, though some bits of footage looks better than others. Overall though, this is what it is – a collage of sorts made up from a zillion different sources and, as such, not the type of thing you go into expecting pristine video quality. In the context of the movie though, it works quite well.

    The English language Dolby Digital 2.0 track on the disc is problem free. As the audio is all pretty much newly created for the movie, it’s clean, clear and balanced. The score sounds great and the dialogue is always easy to understand. Optional subtitles are provided in English.

    Extra features start off with a commentary track from writer/director Mike Davis and co-producer/artistic director Miles Flanagan that starts off by explaining the disclaimers that precede the film and why they're there, how and why they went about creating a 'recycled movie,' why they opted to make a horror-comedy with an exploitation/blaxploitation look to it, the use of political satire in the film, how and why different animations were used to create certain parts of the movie, trying to doctor the footage used here as infrequently as possible to make it work, where a bunch of the public domain footage that they used for the movie originated from (a few of which are included in their entirety - for more info on that, keep reading!), knowing full well that they'd need to ask the audience to suspend their disbelief from start to finish, trying to make this movie a bigger picture than the earlier Sex Galaxy and lots, lots more.

    In the Outtakes section we get two-minutes of “unused footage” from there 'werewolf attack' scene that features some pretty nifty gore and which is set to a pretty rad score. This content is all done in the same spirit as the feature, and is clearly not meant to be taken at all seriously.

    The Campaign Section is a six-minute bit presented as a faux-campaign commercial for the reelection campaign of President John Wolfman. It's a pretty funny spot that highlights everyone who is against Wolfman and his administration that occasionally makes use of some genuinely bizarre rhyming and that even pulls U2 into this mix. Like the feature itself, it's done by adding new narration overtop of existing public domain footage. It’s important to have a president who can run really fast.

    She-Wolf is a two-minute short that pretends to be recently declassified military training material, at least at first, but which soon turns into a collection of clips of vintage nudie reels, with bodacious, curvaceous women digitally augmented with werewolf faces strutting about. Great stuff, and kind of hypnotic in its own way.

    The Talking Car is an original film from 1969 'made to teach the see and be seen rules of traffic safety. Here, over sixteen-minutes, we see Jimmy (Brian Forster of The Partidge Family) and his dad prepare for a fishing trip only for Jimmy to almost get smacked by a sweet vintage Ford Mustang. This leads into some weird stuff with a... talking. As Jimmy drifts off to sleep he has utterly strange dreams where cars grow animated faces and talk to him about traffic safety and to make sure he remembers what he was taught in school. This is, to be blunt, really fucking weird and, as such, it fits right in with the rest of the material on this disc.

    Sudden Birth is another original film, this one from 1966 and running twenty-two-minutes, originally intended to instruct cops on how to deliver babies! We travel with a regular old cop out of Berkeley, California as he goes about his duties when he's called to an incident where he has to help a rather distraught looking redheaded woman who is in the back of a car and going into labor. He calls an ambulance but there's no time - at which point we flashback to his training where he learns helpful tips like 'keep calm.' Eventually, of course, we see the whole enchilada as the cop delivers the baby on camera, leaving absolutely nothing to the imagination, even cutting the umbilical cord for her and putting the leftovers into a handy plastic bag! When it's all over, and the woman is taken to the hospital and mother and child are confirmed as okay, an actual doctor takes the cop aside and quizzes him about what he did and how he did it, and we learn that he was very worried when the woman's water broke and get suggestions for what to carry in the patrol car to make delivering babies easier for cops in the future. When it's all over, the cop tells the woman 'you're a beautiful mother' in the weirdest monotone voice you've ever heard and has a heart to heart with the woman's friend.

    The Experiment section brings us to Experiments In The Revival Of Organisms, which is another original film, a 'Hoax Soviet propaganda film' that re-stages the alleged experiments of Sergei Sergeyevich Brukhonenko. Made in 1940 and running just a tad under twenty-minutes, it's a really unusual piece that details how the use of an 'artificial blood circulation system' developed in the U.S.S.R. was used to bring dead dogs back to life. An official looking man opens the film and says that he's seen some of the experiments depicted in the film carried out in person before noting how the technology developed is now used to save human lives. We see scientists going about doing research and conducting experiments in very important looking labs and then learn of the conditions under which this experiments take place. We see lots of disembodied hearts and organs start to live again, we witness creepy animation showing how dogs can come back to life and then see 'real' footage of such an experiment reviving a dead dog that then start to react to sound. It goes on from there and we see and learn more about what was done to various dogs in the name of science before ending on a happy note where a scientist plays with some of the dogs that this technology revived.

    When you click on Space Prison you get a two-minute trailer for Space Prison For Nymphomaniacs, an earlier film put together in the same style and by the same crew made up of plenty of wild looking clips from various exploitation and sexploitation films and other cinematic oddities.

    Rounding out the extras is a trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection.

    President Wolfman – The Final Word:

    President Wolfman won’t be for all tastes but those with an appreciation for absurdist humor, vintage exploitation movies and completely bizarre films should certainly get a kick out of this one, as the movie turns out to be pretty funny. Filmfest has done a nice job on the DVD release, presenting the film as it was meant to be seen and with a whole lot of interesting bonus material included too! Recommended.