World Of Difference

WEREWOLF (July 1987 - August 1988) -- season only, episodes 11 and 12 -- "World of Difference" parts 1 and 2. In this half-hour horror serial, James Morrison plays Deputy Angles who arrests Eric, only to be chomped by his werewolf alter ego.

WEREWOLF is the tale of budding preppie, Eric Cord, whose career in suburbia gets cut dramatically short when his best friend confesses that he’s a werewolf and promptly proves it by biting Cord. The friend earns a silver bullet for his generosity. Cord now has the same problem, signaled by the appearance of a bleeding pentagram on the palm of his hand whenever the moon is full.

Cord, short of opting for the bullet himself, can only be cured by destroying the beginning of the werewolf bloodline, who is apparently the psychopathic werewolf-cum-sailor Janos Skorzeny (Chuck Connors). Also on the prowl in this THE FUGITIVE meets THE INCREDIBLE HULK odyssey across America is bounty hunter Alamo Joe (Lance LeGault), a man obsessed with bringing Cord to bay.

wolf1.jpg (18088 bytes)wolf2.jpg (16462 bytes)In "World of Difference" Alamo Joe tracks Cord to a jailhouse. Inside on the phone with his girlfriend, Deputy Angles coos, "Well now, you don’t have to be graphic, just... describe it in a lot of detail." He reluctantly hangs up to question Joe. Joe presents Angles with a warrant and confronts Cord. But the deputy is unwilling to release Cord without his sheriff’s approval. As he searches for the absent sheriff, Alamo visits a local bar.

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wolf7.jpg (19666 bytes)wolf8.jpg (22753 bytes)Cord begins his change into a werewolf and escapes from the jailhouse. Alamo and the deputy go out searching for him. They are attacked. Alamo is severely wounded by the animal and Deputy Angles is killed -- Eric Cord is found nearby shot dead.

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The bodies are sent to the morgue, and Alamo is rushed to the hospital. He hopes Cord is really dead, but he fears the worst. He knows it was the deputy who shot the animal and without Joe’s silver bullets. He also fears his wounds may be bite marks, making him the newest member of the bloodline. Tests are run to determine what inflicted the marks.

While awaiting the results, Joe reflects on the journey he has traveled to this point -- how he discovered Cord’s condition, how he found the method to kill werewolves and how his passion to destroy the animal separated him from his lady. (In one flashback, Ethan Phillips plays the bail bondsman who tries to persuade Joe to take another, more important case and drop Cord’s. But Joe refuses.)

Joe is awakened from his dreaming when trouble stirs at the morgue. Joe and the Sheriff arrive to find Cord’s body missing, and the metal door that once secured his corpse now ripped from its hinges from the inside out.

But good news follows the bad with a phone call from the hospital. The bite marks Joe incurred are identified as claw marks, not fang marks. Joe is safe to continue his pursuit.

John J. York who was cast in the role a week before the two-hour pilot began shooting plays Eric Cord. But the actor doesn’t quibble, "WEREWOLF was an opportunity to work as an actor.... I know I’m playing second banana to the werewolf, and that’s fine with me.... The reason I can live with that is because the scripts are taking great pains with my character. As a result, I’m getting to do more than just one-dimensional setups for the werewolf transformations.... The funniest thing is that Eric winds up naked at the end of each werewolf transformation, but always seems to find a pair of pants nearby to put on. I keep telling people that Eric is always prepared. He left home with a ton of luggage."

The idea behind WEREWOLF materialized shortly after the run of co-producer John Ashley and creator Frank Lupo’s successful THE A-TEAM ended. The production duo, at that point, was in a position to do anything they wanted in the action-adventure arena. But Lupo wanted to try something different.

"Frank got the idea for WEREWOLF while he was taking a shower," chuckles Ashley. "When he brought it to me, I was a bit skeptical. But we had a blind commitment for a series with the Fox Network at the time, so we pitched the idea of WEREWOLF to them. They asked all the appropriate questions, and we had all the appropriate answers, and the Fox people said, ‘Do it.’"

Fortunately for Ashley and Lupo, the series as a whole works. "Scare is the operative word," assures Ashley. "I did not mind ending up faulted for the concept, but I did not want to be faulted for the execution."

Besides settling on a style for the show that incorporates smoke, dark lighting and a semi-grainy filming technique that has added a Gothic coating, the creators chose their creature designer, Rick Baker, and makeup man, Greg Cannom, carefully. "Hiring Rick and Greg was the smartest move we ever made," says Ashley. "The days are long gone when you could get away with somebody falling behind a desk and coming up with some facial hair." Cannom appears satisfied with his work on WEREWOLF, but that does not necessarily mean he would do it again. "The pace of television is ridiculous.

We usually don’t know what’s shooting on a given day until the night before."

This "no time" factor extended itself to preparing for the show. Cannom only had six weeks to create both the good and bad werewolf costumes. "I worked in tandem with Rick Baker. I was making body casts and molds for the actors, while the final designs were still in development. At one point, I even had to fly to England to get the hair on the werewolf suits hand-tied by an expert. It was a rush-job, but we succeeded in giving the show movie-quality effects for a television budget."

While Eric’s early stage transformation is fairly simple (contact lenses and fangs), the evil Skorzeny lycanthrope effect is much more complicated and interesting. "That was my favorite because the Skorzeny werewolf if more of a horrific creature," Cannom enthuses. "The disease has progressed to the point where his human side is starting to break down physically. There was also the mechanics needed to move the eyes; that made it more than just another werewolf transformation."

During the course of the series, Eric finally finds and kills Skorzeny only to learn that the beginning of the bloodline is actually 2,000-year-old Nicholas Remy (Brian Thompson).

Ashley says, "The nature of the material gives us lots of ways we can go. We have a show coming up where Eric discovers the existence of two other werewolves. And who is to say there are not other kinds of monsters out there? We’ve had a witch in one episode already, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility to do a show about a vampire."

Initial high ratings led Fox to contemplate renewing the program for a second season, and the creators made plans for that year. "The premise was set forth in the pilot that the werewolf disease is a progressive one," Ashley reasons.

"So far, Eric’s basic good nature keeps him in control, which is why, when he knows the change is coming; he will lock himself up so he can’t hurt people. We will not make Eric a mass murderer like the Skorzeny werewolf, but by the second season, you will begin to see him lose more and more control. As the disease begins to progress, he loses more of his humanity."

Sadly, this never materialized. WEREWOLF was cancelled after its first season. Synopsized from interviews by Marc Shapiro for Fangoria with additional info by J.E. McKillip from the Internet Movie Database and Trish from the JMDG list.

Interesting tidbits: Ethan Phillips -- who, earlier in 1987, starred in Morrison-directed THE FOREIGNER -- was also a guest star on WEREWOLF. In 1998, Greg Cannom was nominated for an Oscar for his part in developing the make-up effects for TITANIC. Cannom created the "Old Rose" makeup.

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