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The Best Transformation Scenes of Horror, Part 2: A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985), Late Phases (2014) and The Company of Wolves (1984)

August 29, 2016

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This article is rich with images you do not want your boss to see when he’s looking over your shoulder at work. View at your own risk.
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Transformation scenes are often the coolest things we see in horror films–especially when they’re executed with practical effects.  Some of my favorite transformation scenes are also the most gory and brutal.  In The Best Transformation Scenes of Horror Part 1 we reviewed the transformations featured in Tales from the Darkside (1990; the short story Lover’s Vow), Zombeavers (2014) and Wolfcop (2014) (the latter two are also discussed in the MoviesFilmsandFlix Podcast Episode 17).  So today I’m continuing to highlight transformations in which the “new form” pushes its way out of the “old” (human) form much as a moth emerges from its cocoon…but deliciously GORIER!

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Transformations like these are gory, abrupt and to the point; like the human skin was just an ill-fitting suit entrapping a monster.  The first film (that comes to mind anyway) using this transformation method was the werewolf movie The Howling (1981), and far later by the werewolf character from Hemlock Grove (2013-present; Netlfix show).  The Fly (1986) also utilized this method, in which Brundelfly’s transformation was a slow mutation and his human form was almost gorily “molted” off.  I feel like an honorable mention is owed to Spring (2014), which features hints of onscreen transformation frequently and in interesting ways but limits all significant changes in form to offscreen events (i.e., revealing the final form but not witnessing the actual transformation).  If only that film had a larger budget–but then, that might have spoiled the more elegant tone of that special romantic horror film.

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But enough of this banter.  Here are a few more transformations that I really enjoyed.  Stay tuned for future installments in this series of articles…

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A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)

Opening as playfully as the original ended, this sequel has brought a bit more humor than original, but maintained the dark and dire evil aspects. From his very introduction Freddy is noticeably more malicious and now he wants Jesse’s (Mark Patton) body!  Things get more than a little weird in this sequel.  Freddy seems to be crossing over into reality on his own accord, which seems to violate the rules we once learned about him.  But how…?

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Freddy (Robert Englund; Wishmaster, Hatchet) uses Jesse’s unwilling body as a conduit to exact his revenge. Whereas part 1 introduced us to the terrifying notion that someone (or something) can hunt and kill us in our dreams (and we really die!), this sequel removes from us not only control of our dreams but also control of ourselves.  After harbingering the horrors to come in dreams of Jesse wearing the bladed glove, Freddy’s claws pierce through Jesse’s fingertips and the skin lacerates from the inside out making way for Freddy’s iconic sweater to appear beneath.

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This scene is gross, painful to watch…and AWESOME!!!  From here Freddy’s face forms through Jesse’s stomach and pushes its way out like a belly-born pregnancy of Krueger’s head and torso.

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As if to offer a bit of poetic justice, when Freddy is defeated by Lisa’s love for Jesse (BARF…LOL), Freddy’s burnt husk is peeled away to reveal Jesse within.

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This scene isn’t majorly transformative and some would reduce it to Freddy simply tearing his way out of Jesse’s body.  But I contest that, while perhaps a lesser transformation scene with little onscreen transition (e.g., the claws emerging from Jesse’s fingertips and the “glove” now being Jesse’s hand in several scenes), I figured it had just enough merit to include it.

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Late Phases (2014)

Directed by Adrián García Bogliano (B is for Bigfoot – The ABCs of Death), this film throws tropes out the window to deliver a fresh indie werewolf movie with a blind elderly antihero.  I enjoyed the different approach to the hero, the unique retirement community setting, and the deviation from some standard tropes. But do you know what I loved most about this film? The practical effects!  The transformation scene may not have been top-dollar, but it was cool and smacked of Hemlock Grove (2013-2016), The Howling (1981), Wolfcop (2014; transformation scene) and The Company of Wolves (1984).

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During the full moon transition, the body expands tearing open the clothing and subsequently expanding and internally rending the flesh to reveal the furred beast within.  The werewolf itself had a sleek look of its own, too.  This little indie was a blast!

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The Company of Wolves (1984)

This is one of the more stylish (yet less substantial) werewolf movies out there, featuring two highly memorable transformation scenes (out of four, in total) worth the price of admission alone.  The first transformation scene begins with a subtle change in eye color to a sharp yellow. He proceeds to tear away chunks from his cheek and his forehead, stretching and yanking flaps from his neck and his chin.  It’s quite deliciously gross.  After tearing away the last of his skin and hair with bony hands he uncovers a fleshless head of sinew from which springs and extends his canine muzzle.  It’s all practical effects, of course, and weirdly off-putting—it actually reminds me of the modern “Bodies” exhibit.  Finally, his neck extends like a turtle’s from its shell as it unsheathes!

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This scene may not be as brutally long and painful as An American Werewolf in London (1981) or as grimy and sloppy as The Howling (1981) or its Wolfcop (2014) successor, but it’s quite effectively uncomfortable to watch.

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Another transformation scene in the movie feels brief and comical, more akin to Howling 3: The Marsupials (1987).

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But the final transformation scene features a gross writhing tongue followed by the emergence of a wolf’s snout from a man’s wide open mouth (as seen on the movie poster) before it tears its way out of his skin as if it wore him as a suit (a more crude version of the “unzipping” werewolves we find in Trick ‘r Treat).

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I have a major soft spot for this movie.

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I hope you enjoyed these gore-slathered movie memories and perhaps you have been directed to new things you need to see for yourself.  Stay tuned for future installments…

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 29, 2016 12:05 pm

    Company of Wolves was a weird but fun movie…

    • John Leavengood permalink
      August 29, 2016 1:49 pm

      Calling that film “weird” is an understatement. LOL. More like a drug-induced fever dream.

      • August 29, 2016 2:22 pm

        Yeah, it’s all about the girl moving into “womanhood” if you know what I mean…

  2. August 29, 2016 7:03 pm

    Great to see The Company of Wolves getting a mention. Awesome transformation effects and a beguiling little movie.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      August 29, 2016 7:44 pm

      Until I saw it a month ago, the transformation scenes were all I remembered from this movie that I hadn’t otherwise seen since the 90s. They made an impression!

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  1. The Best Transformation Scenes of Horror, Part 1: Tales from the Darkside (1990), Zombeavers (2014) and Wolfcop (2014) | Movies, Films & Flix

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