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Battledogs

Year: 2013
Production Co: Infectious FIlms
Director: Alexander Yellen
Writer: Shane Van Dyke
Cast: Ariana Richards, Kate Vernon, Craig Sheffer, Dennis Haysbert, Erine Hudson

Ordinarily something you can see miles off has been made on the smell of an oily rag, with CGI from a cheap 16 bit video game and a script written by some second tier producer's son in law who wants to break into the business.

But I'm being unnecessarily snarky. For the money they had to spend on it, this campy B movie did the best job it possibly could with what it had. The only really sad thing about it was the presence of Dennis Haysbert (who once had a legitimate career in movies and now appears to be in a series of insurance company commercials in America in between VOD crap like this) and Ernie Hudson, not far behind him in the how-the-mighty-hath-fallen stakes.

Why on Earth would I want to watch it, you might ask? Because it's a werewolf story, and maybe the reason I embraced it in the spirit it was intended says more about how low my expectations about werewolf movies are after some of the efforts we've seen.

A woman gets off a plane in New York, feels dizzy and sick, goes to the ladies room and emerges a hairy, bloodthirsty beast who attacks other passengers until everyone else in the terminal is either dead or transformed into one of them too.

She's the carrier of a lycanthropism virus, and when the military closes in, establishing a holding facility in a warehouse and installing the stoic Monning (Haysbert) as the commander, the surviving infected and rounded up like Jews being marched into Auschwitz. The virus, it's revealed, causes the infected to turn when they're angry or stressed, so the trick is not to upset them too much (yes, it's ripping off the Incredible Hulk mythology).

Also on the case is Hoffman (Craig Sheffer), a virologist, and Ellen (Kate Vernon), a doctor who's been doing the intakes at the detention centre. They're both racing against the clock to find a cure – not just against the chance of the virus breaking out and unleashing werewolves on Manhattan, but against the military brass who (quelle surprise?!?) want to isolate and develop the pathogen to create a race of supersoldiers.

The VFX are laughable but the film lends credence to the oft-trod theory that if you care about the characters and story you'll be drawn in. Haysbert is just twirling his moustache and Sheffer just looks like a cross between a traditional movie hero and Patton Oswalt, but it's Vernon and Ariana Richards (yes that one, who played Lexi in Jurassic Park) as the original carrier who treat it like a drama film made to win Oscars, and they elevate it higher than the shlock on show by every other department.

Not the best example of this modern Corman-styled romp, but certainly not the worst. The most disappointing aspect thought is that it's not really a werewolf movie, the monsters standing in for antagonists that could be any number of other possible archetypal beasts.

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