Marvel Studios has pulled out another gem from their comic’s legacy locker with the adaptation of 1972’s Werewolf by Night, which itself is a tribute to Entertaining Comics (EC Comics) and its Tales from the Crypt series. But there are other references in play here, particularly Universal and Hammer horror, with special mentions to the woolly wolf-man played by Lon Chaney, Jr. in 1941’s The Wolf Man and 1935’s Werewolf of London.
But this time we don’t have a full movie or even a short series. As Marvel’s first-ever special presentation for television, the 43-minute film is coming to Disney+ as a run-up to Halloween.
Marvel had already plundered its 1972 publications with their comic/thriller/horror Moon Knight series, but Werewolf by Night (co-written by Peter Cameron, who also wrote Moon Knight) is a no-apology horror show. And boy did they look like they had fun making it.
Cinematographer Zoe White calls composer-turned-director Michael Giacchino a “super talented big kid” on her social media, which may mean that, for his directorial debut, he threw everything at this horror pastiche — including the classic monochrome look and all the familiar horror tropes packed into the trailer. Yes, this is the Giacchino who has scored countless movies like The Batman, Thor: Love and Thunder, Jurassic World: Dominion, Lightyear, Rogue One and many others, including, of course, his Oscar for Up in 2009. There was also no way he was going to miss out on scoring Werewolf by Night.
Christian Bone at We Got This Covered reported how Giacchino told a special post-screening audience at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas about the idea of releasing the special in black and white, which had been worrying him for some time. “From the very beginning, I was always hoping we could do that.” he said. “We didn’t know if we were gonna be allowed to do that while we were making it so we had a separate monitor that was only showing black and white so I could still check how it would look.” But he still had to persuade Marvel supremo Kevin Feige that this was the right aesthetic.
“The first couple of cuts that we put together were in color. And then I think maybe the third cut, we screened that one in black and white with Kevin. And I remember when it was over, Kevin looked at me and goes ‘I think we have to release this in black and white, don’t we?’ And I was like, ‘yeah, I think we absolutely do.’ ”
READ MORE: Werewolf by Night’ director explains the thinking behind the MCU special’s unique twist (We Got This Covered)
As Polygon’s Tasha Robinson reported from the same post-screening Q&A, Giacchino also recounted for the audience how he had been making movies since he was nine years old, after his father had gifted him with an 8mm camera. “The other thing I spent my entire childhood doing was sitting in front of the television on Saturdays, watching Creature Double Feature. I was obsessed with monster movies. My brother and I would sit there — that was our church. Creature Double Feature was our religion.”
Giacchino added that he and his brother “grew up on all of the old Universal monster movies,” in addition to classic British releases from Hammer Films and Japanese monster movies.
READ MORE: Marvel’s Werewolf by Night secret screening unveils a ‘complete love letter’ to classic horror (Polygon)
Gizmodo’s Germain Lussier recounts the special’s story. “Werewolf by Night follows Jack Russell (Gael García Bernal), one of several so-called monster hunters who have been summoned to compete for the Bloodstone, an ancient relic passed through the generations that gives special powers to its holder.” he writes.
“Among those competing is Elsa Bloodstone (Laura Donnelly), daughter of the former owner of the stone and rightful heir, though she has rarely expressed an interest. And so Elsa and Jack, along with several others, must compete to kill a mythical creature, and probably each other too, with the winner winning the Bloodstone.”
To bolster Zoe White’s description of her director’s flair, Giacchino explained to SlashFilm’s Ryan Scott how he became known for his love of gore. “It became a joke on set while we were shooting, when they would ask me, ‘What do you think, Michael? What do you think?’ And they would stop me and they’d go, ‘Let me guess. More blood.’ I’d be like, ‘Yes, more blood.’ Or, ‘Can we amputate this thing?’ Or, ‘Can we do that?’ And they would be like, ‘Oh God, oh God, what are we making here?’“
READ MORE: How Michael Giacchino Ensured Marvel’s Werewolf By Night Didn’t Skimp On Bloody Horror (SlashFilm)
But if you’re wondering how the film escaped an adult rating, here’s where the black and white treatment benefitted Marvel. Giacchino agreed with The Hollywood Reporter’s Brian Davids reasoning that the lack of color lessened the horror somehow. “We had always assumed it would be TV-MA, but I wasn’t always involved with what was happening on that end in terms of ratings and all of that,” Giacchnio tells Davids. “But I am sure you are absolutely right that the black and white did help keep us within a certain range.”
READ MORE: ‘Werewolf by Night’ Director Michael Giacchino Thought the Marvel Special Would be Rated TV-MA, Not TV-14 (The Hollywood Reporter)
But Lussier has it right regarding the true worth of a black-and-white treatment for a new director who was gleefully playing in a horror sandbox, “The choice of black and white doesn’t just harken back to the early 20th century when monsters ruled the big screen, it allows him to frame shots with gothic, evocative shadows in them. Get much more violent than most other Marvel movies because the blood looks black, not red. And not to worry, at all, about MCU connections because this is a short, sweet, special presentation to introduce a few, cool, new characters in a fun original way.”
While Giacchino had previously said, as reported by SlashFilm’s Valerie Ettenhofer, that the special format “absolves us from having to do too much of an origin story and too much of what happens after,” fans have been wondering if a new horrific era is dawning at Marvel Studios.
READ MORE: Marvel’s Werewolf By Night Is In The MCU But Didn’t Have To Worry About Larger Continuity (SlashFilm)
Cass Clarke, also at SlashFilm, imagines a future for at least two of the characters with the possible MCU debut of the titular werewolf Man-Thing, and the bloodsucker-defeating badass Elsa Bloodstone (Laura Donnelly).
NAB Show New York Introduces New Cine Live Lab
By NAB Amplify
NAB Show New York is introducing the Cine Live Lab, a new destination on the show floor featuring daily, hands-on demonstrations of the latest tools and techniques in cinematic storytelling and live broadcast production. Presented in partnership with AbelCine, the Cine Live Lab is open to all NAB Show New York badge holders and will take place October 19-20 at the Javits Center.
Designed to highlight the synergies between cinematic and broadcast style production, the Cine Live Lab will feature three premier sessions from AbelCine. Presentation topics include managing cinematic multi-cam projects, audience experience goals, identifying production team member roles, as well as equipment and skillsets required of crews. View the session schedule here.
Additional sessions will teach techniques in camera operations needed to get the best shot, from lensing and focus to set up and framing. Leading companies driving advancements in content creation and cinema will demonstrate their wares. Supporting partners also include Sony, Fujinon, Reidel and Multidyne.
“We are in a transformative time in which cinematic storytelling tools and techniques are being applied to live performance and broadcast productions. The approach that is emerging on these projects is a combination of cinema and broadcast production talent and disciplines. We are pleased to present Cine Live Lab to foster these discussions and bring the creative community together,” said Pete Abel, co-founder and CEO, AbelCine.
“We are excited to offer this dedicated area of the show floor exclusively at NAB Show New York for the cine and broadcasting community to gain exposure and hands-on experience with the latest equipment transforming production and post workflows,” said Chris Brown, executive vice president and managing director of Global Connections and Events at NAB.
The Cine Consortium launched in November 2021 in Los Angeles to help NAB Show and its affiliated events identify opportunities, such as the Cine Live Lab, that serve to educate and unite the cinema, production, post and broader content creation communities. Members include studios, guilds, societies, and technologists.