Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Werewolf (TV Series, 1987-88)

Eric Cord's world is turned upside down after his best friend Ted claims that he's a werewolf, and is responsible for a series of shocking murders in which the victims were partially devoured. After witnessing Ted transform into the beast, Eric is forced to kill him in self defense--but not before being wounded himself. Now cursed with lycanthropy, the only way he can be cured is by killing the originator of the cursed bloodline: a malicious werewolf named Janos Skorzeny.

Eric Cord (John J. York) & Janos Skorzeny (Chuck Connors)
This short-lived, 29-episode series was part of the Fox Network's inaugural season, but was cancelled in 1988 after a contract dispute with the broadcaster. You might say the production was, err, cursed, since Chuck Connors, who played Janos Skorzeny, left the show after a handful of episodes due to some other sort of dispute. These werewolves are immortal; it was later revealed that the originator of the cursed bloodline was actually Nicholas Remy, a 2000 year-old character based on the real-life Inquisitor and witch hunter of the same name.

Based on the pedigree alone, this series should have been a long-lasting hit. Created by prolific TV producer Frank Lupo (The Last Precinct, The A-Team, Wiseguy, Hunter), Werewolf was chiefly scripted by the equally-prolific writing team of Allan Cole and Chris Bunch--and the werewolf effects were designed by Rick Baker!

A cross between The Incredible Hulk and The FugitiveWerewolf is a series that fans have been wanting to see on DVD for a long time, and this almost happened in 2009--but yet another dispute (this time regarding music licensing) prevented this from happening. The original, 90-minute pilot was released in the European market on VHS in the late '80s, and the series was briefly re-broadcast on the cable channel Chiller (so low-quality episodes occasionally show up on YouTube). In 1988, Blackthorne Publishing produced a 5-issue comic book adaptation.

TV Guide ad for the premiere episode (critcononline.com)

I first mentioned this series in my book, Un-Dead TV, because one episode featured a story that alluded to Bram Stoker's Dracula (although there weren't any vampires). In "The Black Ship" (Episode #4), Eric Cord meets Otto Renfield, who was once under the thrall of Skorzeny and lives on a derelict ship that is "on it's last run...a last voyage"--which is a veiled reference to the Demeter, the Russian vessel that brought Dracula to England. Also, the name "Janos Skorzeny" may sound familiar: he's named after the vampire antagonist in The Night Stalker (1972).

31 Days of Horror (2014 edition) continues tomorrow...


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