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If You Liked This Season One Episode...
by Adam; orginally posted October 3rd, 2000
Since Big Wolf On Campus often makes sly references to other TV shows and movies, I thought it might be interesting to make a list of movies similar to episodes of the series. Sort of an "if you liked this episode of Big Wolf, you might also like..." type of thing. You know, like the stuff at the end of some of those cheesy TV movies on NBC in the '80s. It's probably unlikely anyone will actually use this, but maybe it'll give you some ideas next time you're looking for something to watch at the video store. This list is for season one, and also on the 'Features' page is a list for season two. Anyway, here goes!
The obvious choices for the first episode of a series about a werewolf would be to check out some of the original werewolf films. Merton mentions "Teen Wolf" and "Teen Wolf Too", but...you might just want to stick with the Michael J. Fox 'classic', which is similar in tone and feel to Big Wolf. Other classics include Universal's "The Wolfman", "An American Werewolf In London", and "The Howling". I also recommend one film that may have inspired Big Wolf, "My Mother Is A Werewolf", a comedy featuring an otherwise-normal person who tries to keep her affliction a secret and finds help through a horror film-obsessed teenager. The 1954 film "The Intruder" stars a character named 'Wolf Merton', which I'll consider to be the first example in this entirely-too-long bit where I look for references with no basis in reality. The second will be Red Skelton's role as the title character in "Merton of the Movies", which is appropriate, since Merton's knowledge of cinema is unrivaled (well, present company excepted). Red also played a different character named Merton in "Ship Ahoy" a few years before. There's also a Mr. Dingle in the supernatural comedy series "Sabrina the Teenage Witch", and "My Boyfriend's Back", which is very similar to the season 2 episode "Rob: Zombie", has a zombie named Johnny Dingle. Coincidence? Probably.
Though not a movie, another evil librarian can be found in "The Library Policeman", part of Stephen King's "Four Past Midnight". Okay, okay...pretty weak, but if there's a specific movie/TV show/whatever that "The Bookmobile" is based around, I'm not aware of it. "Jídlo" has a couple of guys turning into food dispensers and "Troll II" has people turning into goblin-food, but none of those transformations have anything to do with the personalities of those people being transformed. Hmmm...the only other movie I can think of where people are turned into inanimate objects is "Return of the Killer Tomatoes", but that doesn't really count since they were tomatoes transformed into people to begin with. And I guess turning people to stone as in "Light Years" wouldn't count either. This thing gets better...really!
Butch Comes To Shove
Butch Jenkins' jaunt from celluloid to reality is similar to "The Purple Rose Of Cairo", which Merton references in this episode. And, of course, the educational film Hugo forces Merton and Tommy to watch is very similar to real '50s educational films...although I don't know of any collections of these films on video or DVD, they were constantly MSTied in the wonderful series "Mystery Science Theater 3000". For Weird Al fans, his music video "Christmas At Ground Zero" consists almost entirely of genuine footage from such films, and the "Weird Al Live" DVD has two fake educational films pieced together from real films. Another instance of me looking too hard for something that isn't there is the name of the company that produced the film featuring Butch -- Los Alamos Films. Los Alamos, New Mexico is where the Manhattan Project was developed, and, of course, the end result of the Manhattan Project (more notably, how to protect oneself from a nuclear attack) was the subject of many campy '50s educational films.
Merton references both the original "Cat People" and its 1982 remake in this episode. Also of interest may be the sequel to the original, "Curse of the Cat People". Carole was, of course, named after Romy Schneider's character in "What's New, Pussycat?", another film to check out. Okay, that's probably just a coincidence (I'll let you know if I hear otherwise), but if you're looking for an obscure fact, another Big Wolf guest-star, Jessica Paré, Merton's love interest Tanya in "Time And Again", played a character named Carole in "En Vacances".
This episode is pretty clearly based around "The Craft" (which Merton mentions by name), but there are also similarities to the 1973 TV movie "Satan's School For Girls". (A remake of "Satan's School For Girls", interestingly, features a number of Big Wolf actors/actresses/guest-stars, including some of the witches from "Witch College".) The similarities pretty much begin and end with a group of witches at a college that require another member and draw one into their fold, but...hey, why not? My personal favorite movie about witches is "Suspiria", about a European ballet school that serves as a front for a coven. I think I just ruined a lot of the suspense for it though. Oh well.
The Pleasantville Strangler
Merton mentions the more recent "Fallen" to describe how the Pleasantville Strangler passes from person to person, but we all know that the movie Merton meant to use was the far superior 1987 film "The Hidden", which also features a cop chasing after a villain who can switch bodies by touch. Really, go see "The Hidden" right now. Definitely a favorite of mine. Anyway, as you can probably guess from the title, the Pleasantville Strangler sounds remarkably like the infamous Boston Strangler, and there are a number of movies about this insidious fellow. Among them are the wonderful "Strangler" (1964, starring Victor Buono) and the better-known-but-not-quite-as-good Tony Curtis film, appropriately titled "The Boston Strangler".
The 'revenge' aspect of this episode seems to come from "The Cable Guy", and accordingly, the character of Santini, from the facial expressions to the delivery of the dialogue, is a dead-on Jim Carrey. The 'sucked into the television' bit was more than likely inspired by the John Ritter film "Stay Tuned", which, sadly, I own on DVD. ...and you may be wondering where the name "Santini" came from. Could it be "The Great Santini"? As in the film, Santini seems to be a 'warrior without a war'. I dunno...maybe it's a "Soylent Green" reference. Or maybe to "Side Show", which I think is where the phrase 'the great Santini" came from to begin with. Who knows...? I'm sure someone does, but 'tain't me.
That Swamp Thing You Do
The title is obviously a witty play on the title of "That Thing You Do", tossing in "Swamp Thing". The origin isn't too far off from the original "Swamp Thing" -- in both, a science-lovin' environmentalist dies in a swamp and is reborn as a swamp creature. This episode is a little more similar to the sequel Merton mentions, "Return of the Swamp Thing", particularly in how the Swamp Thing/Abigail relationship results in a gross-out. "Return of the Swamp Thing" has to be seen to be believed. Too bad Swampie didn't have a baseball bat like Swamp Thing when he was taking on TNT! (That reference will make no sense to anyone who hasn't seen "Return...", so just politely laugh and move on...)
Muffy The Werewolf Slayer
I'm not even going to bother with the title. Other werewolf hunters can be seen in "The Beast Must Die", "Silver Bullet", and the TV series "Werewolf". Reaching way too far again, I think Muffy may be a reference to the 1986 slasher "April Fool's Day", which features one character playing the characters of Buffy and her "twin" Muffy. This is probably unlikely but I can dream, right? This episode of Big Wolf has a Soul Sucker as a villain, and other movies featuring soul-feasting monsters include the "Evil Dead" series and "Fallen Angels".
Stalk Like An Egyptian
This episode is very similar to the 1932 original "The Mummy", including the hypnotism, the reunion with a reincarnated love, and the fact that Budelmhar spends next to no time in the traditional mummy-form. If you liked this ep, I also recommend "Bloodsucking Pharaohs In Pittsburgh" (another horror/comedy), and "Robot Vs. The Aztec Mummy" is a pretty campy treat. I just referred to a film as a 'treat'. Shoot me now. Anyway, it's kind of difficult to recommend any more mummy movies because most of them really, really suck.
"An American Werewolf In Paris" has a somewhat similar plot -- Claude uses a sample of Serafine's blood to turn his followers into an army of werewolves bend on world domination. I'm having a hard time thinking of anything else similar to "Flugelhoff". There's "L'Umanoide", where a chemical is used to create an army of soldiers. Most of these movies involve robots or zombies. Uh...some others... Maybe "The Fly II"? Weren't those fly-genes going to be used to create an army of fly-soldiers? Professor Flugelhoff does Dr. Evil's pinkie-to-the-lip schtick from the "Austin Powers" series, and in a way, he is stealing Tommy's mojo. :) Oh, by the way -- there really is a Heidelberg Universitat. I think this means that werewolves are real too.
Aside from the obvious classic "The Invisible Man", you might also want to check out "The Body Disappears", where invisibility is similarly forced upon a disrespectful young fella. Also of note is "The Amazing Transparent Man", in which a man is turned invisible against his will to steal material for a scientist's experiments. I could mention "Hollow Man", but everyone's heard of that by now. Fans of the inept magician shtick might be interested in the whimsical, zany antics of Orko in the series "Masters of the Universe", "Sabrina The Teenage Witch" (I actually like the animated series, embarassingly), and...lots of other stuff.
The Wolf Is Out There
A similar hunt for a werewolf involving an angry mob can be seen in the 1941 "The Wolfman", and...virtually every other movie with a monster. Hmm. An episode of the Simpsons, "Homer Vs. Patty and Selma" has a similar plot device -- Bart has to sign up for a sport and ends up with a less-than-masculine selection. Some other good cheerleading movies are the slasher "Cheerleader Camp" and the hilarious and unfortunately obscure "Satan's Cheerleaders".
Interview With A Werewolf
The title obviously comes from "Interview With A Vampire", sorta stemming from Stacey's journalistic interest in the Pleasantville Werewolf. The first films that sprung to mind when I saw Ms. Thorne's age drop were "Cocoon" and its sequel, but other notable 'youth-stealing' things to check out include "4D Man", "The Hunger", and the television series "The Immortal".
Fangs For The Memories
"The Lost Boys" would be the obvious starting place. One of my favorite episodes of "Tales From The Crypt", the season three episode "The Reluctant Vampire", centers around a vampire stealing from a bloodbank, and the great TV movie "Nightlife" features a hematologist using blood from a hospital to sustain his vampiric love. Great werewolf/vampire battles include "La Marca del Hombre-lobo", "House of Frankenstein 1997", and an episode of "The Real Ghostbusters" called "No One Comes To Lupusville". A great spin on the werewolf/vampire bit is "Twisted Tales", an anthology with one story starring a half werewolf/half vampire. Also, an issue of DC's "The Outsiders" featuring an EC parody had a werewolf/vampire battle, but I forget the issue number offhand. I can sift through my collection and find out, if anyone's dying to know, but I believe it's one of the later ones (during the Halo-with-braces and maybe during the Halo-with-stupid-white-costume period).
Time And Again
The 1980 TV movie "The Girl, The Gold Watch, and Everything" features a pocket watch with a similar power, though it freezes time rather than allowing the possessor to travel back. Another watch-that-can-stop-time story, Alan Brennert's "Influencing The Hell Out Of Time and Teresa Golowitz", was turned into one of the most memorable episodes of the '80s Twilight Zone series. Though this is going too far off a tangent, I was a big fan of the TV series "Out Of This World", where the half-human/half-alien lead character could freeze time by putting her index fingers together. Anyway, more on target, the TV series "Voyagers!" features a pocketwatch-like device used to travel back in time, and using time travel to fix mistakes sounds similar to the plots of "The Time Tunnel", "Quantum Leap", the 1990 TV movie "Running Against Time", and, to some extent, "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home".
Big Bad Wolf
Plenty of good evil twin movies! Here's a huge list -- "The Black Room", "The Class of Nuke 'Em High III: The Good, The Bad, and the Subhumanoid", "Cobra Woman", "Dead Men Walk", "Drunken Rumble Story", "Lies of the Twins", "The Man In The Iron Mask", "Munchies", "Wizards", "The Worst Witch", and probably...well, hundreds more. "The Dark Half", which Merton mentions, is another one worth a look (and a little closer to the plot of "Big Bad Wolf"), as is the very similar 1970 film "The Man Who Haunted Himself". The appropriately-titled "Doppelganger" starring the reprehensible Drew Barrymore and "Schizopolis" have doppelgangers featured prominently as well. Hey, and there's also a They Might Be Giants song called "My Evil Twin" on their brilliant album "Apollo 18".
"Carrie" is the obvious inspiration here, and I was apparently one of the few who enjoyed its sequel (which had songs from the Hippos and Mono Puff in the movie, though neither appeared on its soundtrack). Why stop there, though? The best telekinetic teen story is, of course, "Zapped!" ("Zapped Again!" is also worth a look), and some other killer telekinetic flicks include the criminally overlooked '79 film "Tourist Trap", the criminally...bad "Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood", and the classic "Fiend Without A Face". More trivia! "Carrie" was also referenced in "The Virgin Suicides", which briefly features Dawn "Ms. Thorne" Greenhalgh as Mrs. Scheer.
Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
Although it bears no similarity to this episode of Big Wolf, when I first saw the title for this episode, I thought of an episode of the animated "ALF" series called "Hair Today, Bald Tomorrow". Why that's stuck in my head after a decade is beyond me. "The Empire Strikes Back", which is parodied for quite a bit in this episode, would be an obvious place to start, and Tommy's costume reminds me of Kevin Peter Hall from "Misfits Of Science". Wasn't he the one who was always wearing the Michael Jackson jacket? Ummm...the tale of a werewolf fighting its creator goes back quite a ways and is featured in...well, almost every werewolf movie ever. The great TV series "Werewolf" was pretty much entirely centered around this idea.
"The Exorcist", of course! I'd also recommend "Exorcist III", but...uh...stay away from the first sequel. Another trilogy with plenty o' possession is the much-loved "Evil Dead" series. Rock. Oh, and the "Night of the Demons" trilogy, which features Vlasta "Flugelhoff" Vrana and Richard "Hugo Bostwick" Jutras in the third film. Another light-hearted look at possession can be seen in "Repossessed" and the Troma classic "Rabid Grannies". If you look beyond possession of people, it doesn't get much better than the 1991 film "The Refrigerator", which sadly is not currently available on video or DVD.
Don't Fear The Reaper
Don't forget to pick up "Agents of Fortune" by Blue Oyster Cult, featuring the single of the same name. The sequence with Merton and Tommy challenging the Grim Reaper to various games was lifted from "Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey" (an excellent film), which in turn was parodying "The Seventh Seal", which Merton mentions in this episode. The Grim Reaper also appears in "Mulberry", "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen", the short "Death and a Salesman" (which I very highly recommend), "Reaper Madness", and the TV movie "And Then There Was One" (which stars Dawn "Ms. Thorne" Greenhalgh as Julia Sands).
The character of Dirk Stry'em is strongly based on Duke Nukem, and since Duke Nukem 3D references "Army of Darkness", "Aliens", "Star Wars", and "They Live", those should be at the top of the list. Yeah. "Commando" and virtually any other films with, well, commandos would make for appropriate viewing. Other video-game-characters-come-to-life movies include "Evolver" and "Deadly Games", and "The Last Starfighter" also uses the "high score on a video game has effect on the life of the player" plot too. I could do "characters sucked into video games" (off the top of my head, episodes of "Darkwing Duck" and "Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends"), but I'll save that for another time.
Have any other suggestions? Let me know!