Jack Bailey really shouldn’t have taken that detour to Hosner Lake after leaving his girlfriend’s house. Oh yes, there is something pretty hostile stirring in them there bushes and when Jack revs up his motorcycle it’s hot on his tail. Despite the Kawasaki’s horsepower something leaps on his back and when Jack regains consciousness he’s in a hospital bed, unable to feel his legs.
Problem is Jack wasn’t alone when the paramedics got to him, there was the naked corpse of a young woman entwined with his body at the crash site, almost beheaded by the silver crucifix that Jenny gave him for protection and the cops are pretty curious about that. And, as if being a paraplegic murder suspect isn’t bad enough, Jack soon realises that his newly heightened senses are nothing to do with his injury.
Meanwhile, as Jack faces up to police questioning and a tough regime of physiotherapy, more gruesomely savage murders take place and it’s up to Jack to clear his name while coping with his disability, personal loss and some unwelcome physiological changes come the full moon.
There are some interesting ideas in Wheel Wolf and I thought the double punning of the title between motorcycles and wheelchairs was quite clever. It’s more of a novella than a novel and for me that was the problem with Wheel Wolf. It seemed a bit underwritten. Jack’s struggle to overcome both his disability and his new found lycanthropy was handled well so credit to the author there, but there was no mystery about who was the Big Bad. From the character’s very first appearance I thought; “Yep, that’s him”. The supporting cast of characters were also a little thin and could have done with a touch more development.
Having said that Wheel Wolf has its moments and some potential to develop as a series, which I am sure is Valentine’s intention.
To find out more about January Valentine visit her website.
Werewolves have been an interesting phenomena in horror cinema. Long trapped as a man with a hairy face and hands (for example Lon Chaney in Universal’s The Wolfman or Oliver Reed in Hammer’s The Curse of the Werewolf), it wasn’t until the 1980s when special effects technology and budgets allowed us to see a proper transition from man to wolf in such films as An American Werewolf in London (John Landis 1981) or Neil Jordan’s sumptuous adaptation of Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber as A Company of Wolves (1984).
More recently Benicio del Toro played The Wolfman (2010) in a remake of the 1941 Lon Chaney classic. A curious film that attempts to retrofit elements of the original Curt Siodomak script into a kind of Victorian Hammer Gothic that also includes real life Ripper detective Francis Aberline. Like many recent big budget horror remakes it lacks much of the charm of its low cost processors.
A curiosity I fondly remember from my misspent youth was The Beast Must Die (1974) this Amicus film production was based upon the short story There Shall be No Darkness by the Science Fiction writer James Blish, concerns big game hunter Tom Newcliffe (Calvin Lockhart) who invites a group of people to join him at his English mansion. Tom’s ambition is to hunt down the ultimate trophy the head of a werewolf and he reckons one of his guests (who include: Michael Gambon, Charles Gray and Peter Cushing) might just be one.
Review by Simon Ball
Connect with Simon: @RealShipsCook or here.