With more and more movie streaming services popping up, it can feel impossible to keep track of what’s showing where. So to help, this October I’ll be recommending a different film every day from one such service that embodies the spooky spirit of the season. From classic Halloween movies to indie horror to campy dark comedies, this is 31 Days of a Very Chingy Halloween.
Today we look at Wolf Guy: Enraged Lycanthrope, Sonny Chiba’s funkadelic martial arts monster film, currently streaming on Arrow.
Akira Inugami (Shinichi “Sonny” Chiba) is an investigative reporter who’s also the lone survivor of an ancient clan of werewolves, becoming superhumanly empowered on the 15th night of the lunar cycle. One evening, Akira sees a man claiming to run from a tiger before he’s gored and eviscerated in front of him, seemingly by nothing and no one. As he begins to investigate what could’ve caused these bizarre circumstances, he uncovers a dark conspiracy involving a politician, the mob and an emotionally desolate cabaret singer.
Wolf Guy is a glorious mess of a film, mixing elements of detective dramas, martial arts movies, sexploitation and the supernatural. Chiba’s Inugami is like Dirty Harry if he was part canine, had razor claws and could throw yen coins like throwing stars. Gratuitous, action-packed and overdramatic, it’s evocative of the 1970s, the era in which it was created, an effect made even more pronounced by its funk-heavy soundtrack. Even stranger, it’s revealed that the tiger is a metaphysical one, a strange power born of the trauma of cabaret singer Miki. Having been cast aside by her loved ones after a violent gang rape and a subsequent drug addiction, her rage toward her aggressors becomes a demonic force capable of psychokinetically mauling those who have harmed her.
A running theme throughout Wolf Guy is the beastliness of humanity, with the city serving as a sprawling neon jungle where atrocities can be committed in plain sight. Both the film’s superpowered individuals have their abilities brought forth by personal loss and a hatred for humankind. Akira and Miki form a kindred connection through this, but as a trailer for the movie aptly promises, “The plot gets more and more complicated!” There’s also a conspiracy to turn Miki into a government assassin and to use Akira’s wolf blood to create a race of artificial superhuman soldiers, a plot line that features stock footage of what appears to be a real dissection, adding to the film’s graphic nature.
From there, things only get more confusing. At one point, Akira meets a mysterious woman who shares the same name as his mother with whom he enacts a previously unmentioned mommy fetish as he nurses at her breast. Chiba is definitely the main attraction throughout the film, and while he doesn’t always bring dramatic weight to its theme of people being the real monsters, he consistently delivers on inventive fight scenes, manimal charisma and making the film’s gonzo plotlines engaging.
All in all, it’s an inventive look at what it’s like to tame the animal within.
To see a list of each of the previous entries, check out the A Very Chingy Halloween list on Letterboxd.