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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Late Phases: Night of the Wolf

November 4, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Late Phases: Night of the Wolf

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #575: Late Phases: Night of the Wolf

The 2020 October Werewolf Movie Marathon: Week 4

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that is unaware of what’s going on over there and doesn’t really want to go see what’s going on over there because… look, I just don’t want to okay?, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number five hundred and seventy-five, the 2020 October Werewolf Movie Marathon continues with Late Phases: Night of the Wolf, which received some sort of release in late 2014 (it played a lot of festivals) and eventually arrived on home video in 2015.

Late Phases: Night of the Wolf


Late Phases: Night of the Wolf, also apparently known as Late Phases and Night of the Wolf, is one of the most badass werewolf movies I’ve ever seen. Directed by Adrian Garcia Bogliano, Late Phases goes in unexpected directions and features Nick Damici in a performance that, if the world was a cool place, would have netted him an Oscar nomination. I shit you not, Damici is that damn good in the movie.

Late Phases stars Damici as Ambrose McKinley, a blind Vietnam veteran who, after moving into a retirement community known as Crescent Bay, is viciously attacked by a werewolf. In the chaos of the attack, McKinley’s neighbor Delores (Karen Lynn Gorney) and his seeing eye dog Shadow killed (Shadow does put up a fight against the werewolf but is just overwhelmed by the deadly creature’s size). McKinley, obviously, doesn’t see any of this happen, but he does smell the werewolf and tries to get information about the attack aftermath from his visiting son (Will, played by Ethan Embry) and daughter-in-law (Anne, played by Erin Cummings). When McKinley finds out that the attack happened on the night of a full moon, he starts hatching a plan of attack. McKinley figures he’s got thirty days until the next full moon, and that is when he plans on taking out the creature that killed his dog.

So McKinley starts digging a hole in his backyard, presumably for Shadow. It takes McKinley a number of days to dig this hole because he’s using a small shovel and he only digs as much as he has time for during the day. At night he has other preparations to attend to. When he isn’t digging the hole in his yard, McKinley is questioning the neighbors willing to talk to him (McKinley meets a group of old women when he moves in and is less than cordial to them. I totally understand why he was rude to them, though. He was doing important “moving in shit” when they came over and he’s blind. It’s difficult enough doing important “moving in” shit when you can see and you get interrupted to be told about a cake that you can’t eat because you have sugar issues. Imagine having to endure all of that and not being able to see anything). During his inquiries, McKinley finds out about a local church where Crescent Bay citizens congregate on Sundays, so he decides to go there on Sundays. The church is run by Father Roger Smith (the immortal Tom Noonan), who seems like a nice enough guy but you never know. McKinley also meets Father Smith’s church helper James Griffin (Lance Guest).

Now, at first, McKinley suspects that the werewolf is likely one of the old women he met, or maybe one of their husbands, because they all give off an odd vibe. The more he spends time with them at church, though, any of them being the creature becomes less likely. It’s someone else. But who? Is it the priest? His helper? Could it be someone he doesn’t have access to, maybe someone who just pops in from the nearby forest? Is it one of the asshole cops that show up every time there’s an animal attack of some sort (Crescent Bay loses a lot of pets).

While all of that is going on, McKinley continues to develop his big attack plan. He buys a gigantic tombstone that he tells everyone is for Shadow (it is and it isn’t. You’ll see). He also looks for someone who can make him silver bullets, both for a revolver and a shotgun (the armorer in question here is a guy named Westmark played by Dana Ashbrook). And while all of that is going on, McKinley starts to emotionally drift away from his son Will. They were never all that close, but whatever relationship they did have at the beginning of the movie slowly dissolves as the movie progresses. And when Will reveals to his father that Anne is pregnant and that they will be moving closer to her parents very soon, it seems as though their relationship is irreparably damaged. McKinley has other issues on his mind, though, when he finds this out. McKinley needs to kill that goddamn werewolf.

I won’t reveal who the werewolf actually is as it is a bit of a surprise (I really thought the movie was going to go in the “obvious” direction, and all you have to do is look at the cast to know what I mean). I will also say the final confrontation doesn’t play out the way you think it will, especially when you see what the werewolf does to confront McKinley. I did think the ending would be a little more action packed, but the ending that we get is terrific. Considering that this movie was likely made for a modest budget, the creature and gore action we get is amazing to see. The werewolf transformation sequence is brutal as hell (you can’t really have a non-brutal werewolf transformation sequence in a werewolf movie anymore) and the werewolf makeup and creature effects work is not what you expect. There’s one makeup that, at first, looks kind of silly (it looks like the werewolf is smiling), but as soon as you see the werewolf in action that silliness is gone. You don’t want these creatures anywhere near you.

I do have an issue with the movie’s plot that still bugs me a few days after watching it. Why does McKinley assume that it’s a werewolf that attacks Delores and Shadow? Why would that thought pop into his head at all? Did I miss something in the movie where McKinley explains why he thinks a werewolf attacked his neighbor and dog and, more importantly, thinks werewolves are real in the first place? I don’t think I did. Did he have a werewolf experience when he was in Vietnam? Is that why he makes all of the connections that he makes during the attack sequence? Holy shit, is that going to be the sequel/prequel to this movie? Nick Damici in the jungles of Vietnam hunting down werewolves? If and when that ever happens sign me up for that movie. I would watch the shit out of that.

The Crescent Bay location makes the movie look bigger than it probably is. The location actually looks like a retirement community. And the abundance of tremendous older actors in the cast is a plus. Tina Louise, Ginger from Gilligan’s Island, does an amazing job as Clarissa. Rutanya Alda also does a great job as Gloria Baker, and Caitlin O’Heaney is awesome as Emma. And Karen Lynn Gorney is a superstar as Delores. It’s a damn shame what happens to her. If the werewolf didn’t attack her, you can imagine what sort of older person drama that would have developed between her Delores and McKinley. They only share a few small scenes together but there’s an undeniable connection there between the two. It makes you wonder what could have happened.


Nick Damici is just so damn good as Ambrose McKinley. From his mannerisms, the way he delivers McKinley’s dialogue, to the way he holds his revolver while blind, Damici is just exceptional from the start of the movie to the end. You totally believe him as a badass old guy who, despite his blindness, would fucking own you and your life if you ever decided to try to fuck with him. I mean, look at the way he uses a small shovel as his guide cane. Only a guy like McKinley would do that and pull it off. And Damici’s scenes with Ethan Embry are amazing, especially their last scene together. As I said earlier, if the world was a cooler place, Damici would have been nominated for an Oscar in 2015 for this movie. He is that goddamn good in the part. Damici needs to be in more movies. He really does.

Ethan Embry does a fine job as McKinley’s son Will. It’s fascinating watching Will deal with his complex emotions regarding his father. He loves him, he wants to do things for him and have a relationship with him, but there may be too many issues between them, both said and unsaid, to allow that to happen. Will’s breakdown late in the movie is emotional as hell. Great stuff.

Tom Noonan does his usual great job as Father Roger Smith. He’s in full mellow Tom Noonan mode here and it’s both heartening and unsettling to see him being such a nice guy. Noonan has several awesome scenes with Damici and, man, these guys need to be in more movies together. They really do. And Lance Guest is phenomenal as James Griffin. Guest makes Griffin approachable and warm but also kind of sleazy all at the same time. You’re never quite sure what his deal is, and even when you do find out you’re still weirded out by it. What the hell, man? And be on the lookout for the immortal Larry Fessenden as O’Brien, the guy that sells McKinley a tombstone. Fessenden is great in his scenes, and would you buy a tombstone from O’Brien? Would you buy anything from O’Brien?

If you haven’t seen Late Phases: Night of the Wolf you should make an effort to do so. It’s a great werewolf flick and something that you will want to revisit all of the time just to experience Nick Damici’s performance again. I can’t stress enough how goddamn good he is in this movie. It’s amazing. And Late Phases: Night of the Wolf is amazing. You need to make it a part of your horror movie watching life. You really do.

See Late Phases: Night of the Wolf. See it, see it, goddamn see it!

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: At least 9.

Explosions: None.

Nudity?: None.

Doobage: Awesome opening titles music, a driver fucking around with his cell phone while driving, moving in, mailbox fondling, a blind man with a gun, a werewolf in the background, barking dogs, mattress moving, door smashing, off screen guts removal, dog attacking a werewolf, a seriously wounded dog, of screen dog killing, douchebag cops, vet hooey, gun cleaning, a conversation with the mailman, wall touching, shuttle bus hooey, church service hooey, hole digging, pushups, step counting, shovel fighting exercises, old records, tombstone buying, a man in a cloak, of screen dog killing, alternate transportation hooey, talking about ‘Nam, ammo buying, very gross wounds, burning things, a father and son argument, woman biting, serious arm biting, smoking, attempted absolution, werewolf transformation, full on skin pulling face removal, werewolf jumping, windshield smashing, of screen decapitation, a massive hip wound, more wound fixing, a final message, suiting up, hearing aid hooey, TV monitor smashing, window opening, multiple hand-to-hand brawls with a werewolf, accidental foot shooting, serious window smashing, shotgun blast to the head with exploding head on screen (fuck yeah), giant tombstone to the back, more hand-to-hand brawling with a werewolf, shoulder biting, shovel breaking, double eye gouging, rocking chair hooey, hearing that final message, a funeral, and shooting at the moon.

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: “And Tom Noonan,” Nick Damici, Nick Damici as a blind guy, Larry Fessenden, tombstone touching, Ethan Embry, Tina Louise, a werewolf, a dog named Shadow, a guy looking at skin magazines, Nick Damici sitting outside and eating a bucket of fried chicken, Nick Damici using as a small shovel as his blind man cane, a guy in an iron lung, Tom Noonan, Tom Noonan as a priest, Lance Guest, Nick Damici doing pushups, Larry Fessenden making a rude but funny money joke, Nick Damici talking about ‘Nam, notes rubber banded to mailboxes, serious arm biting, cigarette smoking, Nick Damici putting on his old Army uniform in order to kick ass, multiple instances of hand-to-hand combat with a werewolf, a funeral, and shooting at the moon.

Best lines: “People think they always got time,” “Easy, boy,” “I don’t like it when you go walking without Shadow like that,” “Did you bring cake?,” “I’d see you ladies to the door but I’m blind,” “What did I do with the gun?,” “Dude, not all old people smell like that,” “Help me, please, my dog,” “Thanks for the peace of mind, boys,” “Is it a full moon? What?,” “One month,” “I’m only here a week and I’ve already got mail?,” “You grow vegetables, huh?,” “Since when is murder a small problem?,” “Canes are for cripples,” “I can take care of myself! What do I look like, an idiot?,” “I smell you, you sonofabitch!,” “What the fuck?,” “You don’t seem like a very religious man, Mr. McKinley,” “When you’re blind it always looks like you’re paying attention,” “So you killed that bad part of yourself?,” “Wish I had that goddamn ammo,” “Can you make silver bullets?,” “Hey! What do silver bullets make you think of?,” “The only thing precious about life is that it ends,” “That’s a big cross for a dog. It was a big dog,” “It’s all I’ve got left, father. Consequences,” “God, this neighborhood has gone to pot,” “I know that perfume, you bitch!,” and “Will, pick up the fucking phone.”

Rating: 10.0/10.0


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Things to Watch Out For


Tremors: Shrieker Island: The great Michael Gross is back as Graboid hunter extraordinaire Burt Gummer in the seventh, and possibly final, Tremors movie, Tremors: Shrieker Island. Why is possibly the final Tremors movie, at least as we understand them? I haven’t seen the movie quite yet, but based on the reviews I’ve seen and the Facebook and Twitter discussions I’ve seen, the ending implies that this is the last one. Will it be? Who knows? I’m sure Universal Home Video will want another one if this one makes money, but what does that really mean? Who knows? I hope to see it soon and do a full review at some point in early 2021. Napoleon Dynamite hisself Jon Heder and the great Richard Brake co-star.


Scare Package: I reviewed the DVD presentation for this terrific horror comedy anthology (check out that review here and the proper full on movie review by the great Joseph Lee here) and it’s a great home video package (the Blu-ray has the full episode of The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs where the movie made it’s streaming debut). And the movie is a riot from start to finish. If you like horror comedies and horror anthologies you should definitely check out Scare Package.


The Amityville Harvest: The great Sadie Katz and Paul Logan star in this low budget horror flick that looks like some sort of haunted house type deal. I’m not entirely sure why it’s called The Amityville Harvest as the trailer doesn’t suggest that it has anything to do with the Amityville legend or that it’s a sequel to any of the low budget horror flicks out there with the word “Amityville” in the title, but that shouldn’t keep you from checking it out if you’re into that kind of thing. The trailer is pretty spooky, and I like the cast, so I’m willing to give this a shot. There also appears to be a ton of atmosphere in this movie, and that’s what you want in haunted house movies. If you don’t have any atmosphere you don’t have much of a movie. Very rentable.


Attack of the Unknown: I reviewed this sci-fi action horror flick starring Richard Grieco and featuring Tara Reid not that long ago (you can check out that review here), and while I thought it was mediocre, I’m willing to give it a second chance. It does have some good stuff in it, but I’m not entirely sure that the good stuff outweighs the mediocre stuff. If you like sci-fi action horror flicks and or Grieco, you should give the movie a chance. You might like it more than I did.


Redwood Massacre: Annihilation: I just reviewed this low budget slasher flick, which is a sequel to a movie that came out in 2014, and it’s incredibly disappointing. It stars modern horror icon Danielle Harris and a terrific Gary Kasper, and it’s very well made. The movie has great atmosphere, a great killer (the monster needs a name), and some very nasty kills and gore. But the movie just shoots itself in the head in the last minute with a total bullshit twist ending that the movie doesn’t need at all. Maybe the ending will work for you, I don’t know, but I ended up hating it. I wanted to like it, though. It has tons of good stuff going for it. That ending, though. Goddammit. Check out my review of the movie here and decide for yourself if you want to see it.


Taking Shape II: The Lost Halloween Sequels: This is the sequel to the tremendous book Taking Shape: Developing Halloween From Script to Screen that came out last year, and it explores the twenty-four Halloween sequels that never happened. Once again brought to us by Dustin McNeill and Travis Mullins, this book is no doubt exhaustive (it clocks in at 600 pages) and if McNeill’s excellent book on the unmade Freddy vs. Jason scripts that were never made, The Lost Halloween Sequels will be a rocking good time for Halloween franchise nerds and just horror movie nerds in general. The book is available right now on Amazon (you can purchase the book here. You can get in in Kindle format and in paperback). I can’t wait to get a copy and find out what could have but didn’t happen in the world of the Halloween franchise.


Next Issue: The 2020 October Werewolf Movie Marathon concludes (in November!) with High Moon!


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Well, I think that’ll be about it for now. Don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

B-movies rule. Always remember that.

Happy Halloween

Late Phases: Night of the Wolf

Nick Damici– Ambrose McKinley
Ethan Embry– Will
James Guest– James Griffin
Erin Cummings– Anne
Tom Noonan– Father Roger Smith
Tina Louise– Clarissa
Karen Lynn Gorney– Delores
Caitlin O’Heaney– Emma
Dana Ashbrook– Westmark
Rutanya Alda– Gloria Baker
Larry Fessenden– O’Brien

(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by Adrian Garcia Bogliano
Screenplay by Eric Stolze

Distributed by MPI Media Group

Not Rated
Runtime– 96 minutes

Buy it here