Once upon an easier time, on-screen lycanthropy consisted of Lon Chaney Jr. running about a papier mache forest. Over time, however, werewolves took on new cinematic depth as either symbols of unresolved feral sexual needs (“An American Werewolf in London,” “The Company of Wolves”) or new lows as single-joke punchlines stretched into endless stupidity (“I Was a Teenage Werewolf,” “Teen Wolf”). The low-budget British offering “The Wolves of Kromer” does the ridiculous by attempting to cover both territories and, not surprisingly, fails to be anything more than a pointless, silly diversion.
In this film, werewolves are actually effete gay men with wolf-like physical characteristics such as pointy ears, long nails and bushy tails that poke through their fashionably torn pants. They don’t wear shoes and most go shirtless, but all sport ratty-looking fur coats. They live as outcasts in the woods, resorting to petty larceny to get food and money for playing arcade games, and since these are gay wolves there is the inevitable circuit-style party.
Meanwhile, in a typically bad movie-stereotype English village complete with all of the usual eccentrics, a nasty old dowager is being slowly poisoned by her two evil but daffy maids. When the poisoning process takes too long for the desired results, the sinister seniors create a frame-up in which the awful dowager is found dead in the woods and it looks like the wolves killed her. An insufferable priest grabs his rifle and rallies a very small army of torch-and-pitchfork-carrying villagers to hunt down the framed canines.
“The Wolves of Kromer” plays like five different films unspooling simultaneously, without any rhyme or reason to a single solidifying result. The acting is split between community theater-style hamming and somnambulist line-spitting and director Will Gould (who was but 22 years old when this was shot in 1997) is often clueless regarding camera placement and editing. The film’s press kit hints that the wolves are actually a metaphor for homosexuals and their pariah status in society, which is rather strange since one of the wolves enjoys some passionate hoo-hah with a pretty girl and another muses about his crush on a married wolf with a wife and cubs.
Lee Williams and James Layton, who play the quarreling lover wolves whose relationship takes up most of the film, were able to use this film to snag contracts with major modeling agencies. That post-production news is the closest thing this dumb little movie has to a happy ending.