American Werewolves, the latest documentary from Seth Breedlove (The Mark of the Bell Witch, Momo: The Missouri Monster) and Small Town Monsters opens with a statement that there are dozens of sitings of bipedal canines every year. It’s a topic he touched on once before in The Bray Road Beast and here he takes a wider look at the phenomena, talking to witnesses in several states.
Right from the start, American Werewolves emphasizes the aggressiveness of these creatures, which gives the film much more of a horror movie feel to it than many of his other productions. We get not only accounts of people who were stalked and/or chased by what are referred to as dogmen, but there are also stories of hunters and campers being killed by them.
Unfortunately, or perhaps, fortunately, the people relating these accounts don’t seem to have anything to back them up, not even newspaper accounts of the bodies being found. Instead, the fact a park’s RV area was shut down is offered as proof a family was found torn to pieces there. And there are the usual allegations of coverups, one from a former law enforcement official, to explain that lack of evidence. You’ll excuse me if I’m skeptical that entire police forces and park ranger details would let people be eaten alive to protect park revenues.
On the other hand, one of the most convincing appearing interviewees in American Werewolves has one of the two truly bizarre stories we hear. He claims to have come across bloody clothing near where he would later find out a woman had vanished. When the police refused to believe him he went home to get something to put the clothes in. When he returned not only were the clothes gone the area was torn up by car tires destroying tracks and any other evidence.
Not only does his voice reflect his emotions but his face reddens and he’s in tears by the end of it. Is he a good actor, or someone relating events they’re convinced they experienced? That’s just one of several judgment calls American Werewolves asks you to make during its eighty-eight-minute running time.
Unlike most of the films from Small Town Monsters, there is actually no evidence beyond eyewitness accounts presented in American Werewolves. There isn’t even a recording of strange sounds in the woods or any blurry photos or video. This means we have to take the stories on faith, which isn’t easy when someone claims to have run into both Bigfoot and Dogmen in the same incident. Could the creatures be Sasquatch’s hunting dogs?
There’s also very little discussion on just what these creatures might be. We get accounts linked to Native American burial mounds. Others claim to have seen them with their young, suggesting they’re an unknown flesh and blood creature that gave rise to the legends of werewolves. Whitely Strieber used that as the basis for his novel Wolfen. Unfortunately, the movie version tossed that idea, along with most of the novel, and changed the plot to something about wolf spirits.
Despite that lack of evidence or the lack of discussion about werewolves for that matter, the accounts are enjoyable in a scary story told around the campfire way. The recreations also feature a creature that looks like it stepped out of The Howling. American Werewolves may not be the most convincing film Seth Breedlove has made, but it is one of the most entertaining.
American Werewolves debuts will debut on Digital platforms on July 5th from 1091 Pictures. You can check the Small Town Monsters website or Facebook page for more information. And if you’re looking for more creepy viewing, FilmTagger has some suggestions.