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‘Wolfcop,’ an original horror film, is a great Netflix find

Date: 4/17/2015

A comprehensive look at a disease we all dread and a guilty pleasure are featured in this week’s movie review column.

On Netflix: Wolfcop

What I’m seeing more and more are independent films making their way to my attention not through the Red Box and a physical means of delivery, but rather through Netflix and Hulu Plus.

A prime example is “Wolfcop,” a high concept horror comedy that features a police officer being turned into a werewolf and becoming a more effective law enforcement officer by the transformation.

In the bygone video store era – I still miss it – this film would have been part of the meat and potato rental section. How could you ignore a title such as “Wolfcop?”

The film plays out like a 1980s direct-to-video feature and I mean that as a compliment. Leo Farard plays Lou, an alcoholic cop in a small town, still grieving the loss of his father years ago. A ritual by a trio of mysterious people turns him into a werewolf but unlike the classic Lon Chaney Jr. version, he maintains his mind and personality.

Director and writer Lowell Dean gives horror fans something original here. As he should in this kind of movie, Dean stretched the limits of good taste and the film should be considered R rated.

I enjoyed it for exactly what it is: an original horror film that doesn’t take itself seriously. I only wished I could have seen it in a drive-in.   

On DVD: Cancer: the Emperor of All Maladies

This new documentary from executive producer Ken Burns is a six-hour look at a disease that has caused panic for most of recorded human history. Based on the book of the same name by Siddhartha Mukherjee, the film by director Barak Goodman is part history lesson, part medical education and part human drama.

It is not an easy film to watch at times, as cancer is so prevalent in our existence that we all know someone who has been touched by the disease. The film details just how much throughout history cancer was seen as a death sentence, and despite great advancements in medicine it is still something that fills people with dread.

Goodman weaves the history of cancer and the fight against it with contemporary footage of two children fighting the disease. The editing scheme is compelling, as the historical material underscores the human drama.

We learn how doctors first believed that cancer was a localized rather than systemic disease and how the radical mastectomy was considered the only option in stopping breast cancer.

The creation of the Jimmy Fund, the birth of the American Cancer Society and how key lobbyists sought government funding of cancer research.

A key story in the film is how one physician challenged the concepts behind the radical mastectomy and developed the lumpectomy, which is now a preferred way with removing a tumor from the breasts.

This is a fascinating look at a subject few people really want to address until an event makes them confront the disease. It is also a story of how research has allowed traditional ideas about cancer to be challenged and how far we have yet to go.