My notes on La Voce del Lupo
Despite Romulus and Remus being raised by a she-wolf, Italian horror doesn’t have much of a tradition of lycanthropy. Outside of a few guest stars like the coke-snorting werewolves in Lucio Fulci’s Conquest and the ensorcelled hairy thugs of Antonio Margheriti’s Hercules Prisoner of Evil, and co-productions shot in other countries (Monster Dog, Werewolf in a Girl’s Dormitory), this seems to be the Italian cinema’s first full-on wolf man movie … though it’s small beer, even if compared with the lesser Howling sequels or the feeblest Paul Naschy Waldemar Daninsky adventure.
In a remote wooded region, bodies were once found ripped up in the woods. The killings happen to start again just when local boy Nico (Raniero Monaco Di Lapio) rushes home to be at the bedside of his estranged, dying mother (guest star # 1 Maria Grazia Cucinotta). Nico is a short-fused cop on suspension for roughing up a drug dealer, and even his best friend Andrea (Simone Riccioni) and long-lost love Alba (Marianna Di Martino) reckon he’s a stronzo of the first water (with a particularly dire styled beard) and have no trouble telling him so. Mama is struck by mystery drug poisoning, which also happens to be epidemic in these parts, and Nico rows with both Andrea and Alba, then gets obsessed with finding out about his absentee father (Massimiliano Vado), who was the subject of a research project conducted by one Dr Moreau (guest star # 2 Christopher Lambert). One night, Nico has a bad dream and wakes up covered in mud – with no alibi for the latest beast murder and some CCTV footage of him wandering around naked in the dark. In his family home, Nico finds a VHS cassette that shows his father transforming into a werewolf – like quite a few other elements of the film, this is heavily influenced by An American Werewolf in London – and badgers Moreau for more information. His mother’s estranged best friend Maria (Elisabetta de Vito) – there’s a lot of estrangement in these parts, and no wonder since there’s an epidemic of tetchy assholery among pretty much the entire cast – shows up with a cake, a flask of wolfsbane tea, and some religious apocalypse talk. Late in the day, a subplot about the evil polluting exploiters crops up and becomes a distraction from the son who thinks he’s becoming a werewolf searching for the father who actually is one.
Director Alberto Gelpi is sparing with wolf action, showing only flashes of the beast, and writers Viviana Panfili and Alessandro Riccardi pile on the plottage to distract from the fact that this is a wolf man movie without that much wolf man material. The woods look lovely, and there are some nice night-time attacks – but the dialogue is poor to terrible, and Di Lapio throws himself so enthusiastically into the role of total dick it’s hard to care what happens to Nico when the full moon comes out.