Lone Wolf Sullivan is a writer, songwriter, and studio musician.

Monday, July 20, 2009

White Wolves (1993 - 2000) * * ¾

The three WHITE WOLVES movies are sequels to A CRY IN THE WILD, a 1990 film based on the 1987 book "Hatchet", written by Gary Paulsen. It features a bear and other animals, whereas wolves dominate the three sequels: WHITE WOLVES: A CRY IN THE WILD II, WHITE WOLVES II : LEGEND OF THE WILD, and WHITE WOLVES III: CRY OF THE WHITE WOLF.

In A CRY IN THE WILD, 13 year old Brian Robeson (Jared Rushton) is the sole survivor after a plane crashes in the woods of the Yukon, and with hatchet in hand, he must find his way out. He eventually finds some company in a pair of orphaned grizzly bear cubs. The obstacles that Brian faces are demonstrated in a realistic fashion and keep the viewer wondering what is going to happen next.

Brian Robeson: (sings to himself) Nobody loves me. Everybody hates me. I'm gonna eat some worms.

The movie follows closely the plot of Gary Paulsen's book "Hatchet." It's quite realistic with the main characer Brian involved in a life and death struggle to survive in the wilds of Canada. The way Brian finds the will, creativity, and courage to stay the course keeps you glued to your seat. All the natural beauty of the forest is revealed in its glory and unforeseen danger. If you enjoy realistic, survival-type films, then definitely see this one. It's first-rate.

The cast also includes: Ned Beatty (Pilot Jake Holcomb), Pamela Sue Martin (June Robeson), Stephen Meadows (Brad Robeson), Terence H. Winkless (Boyfriend Steve), Louise Baker (Woman at Picnic), Deke Anderson (Store Clerk), John Jakes (Rescue Plane Pilot), Lois Mallory (Grandma), and Ollie Mann (Grandpa). Arthur Kempel composed the original music. Catherine Cyran and Gary Paulsen wrote the screenplay from Paulsen's novel. Mark Griffiths directed.


The movie is set in the wilderness areas of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon. As the film opens we see a school bus driving to the base camp and inside are two groups of teenagers and two teachers about to embark on a two week trek vacation. The teens have attitude problems and are assigned to stay at a camp that is trying to increase the wolf population. Cara (Amy Dolenz) is a campus queen who has a somewhat condescending attitude about the others. Adam (David Moscow) has a little bit of the class clown in him, but is also lacking in self-confidence. Pandra (Amy O'Neill) is Cara's naive younger sister, who was a last minute substitution on the trip, made to go by her parents so she could spend some "quality time" with Cara. Benny (Marc Riffon) is a poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks, but asked to go on the trip by Jake (Matt McCoy), who has been mentoring him as his Big Brother. Naturally, poor Benny isn't treated well by the rest of the teens, and he has an attitude problem to boot.

Both groups split up when they reach base camp, with the idea that they will meet again in several days. One group is called The White Wolves, and their trip involves rafting down a mountain river, and then climbing up a very steep peak where there is an incredible view of the entire region. Their teacher Jake or Mr. B takes his group of five teenagers into the wilderness. WHITE WOLVES starts innocently enough, with a crew of rowdy teens embarking on a camping trip with woodsman and role model Mr. B as their guide. But after some mountaintop horseplay goes awry, Mr. B falls approximately twenty thousand feet to the ground below, and somehow survives.

The teens have to rescue Mr. B, and each has his or her own style, which leads to frequent clashes. When the teenagers find the teacher the next day, they have to put aside their differences and work together to save the life of their dying teacher. And the teenager who decides to go and fetch help is Benny. Scott (Zach Morris) is an authoritarian thug who almost murders Adam in a rage. Cara is distraught when Mr. B's accident seriously cuts into her flirting schedule. Benny is a malcontent delinquent who can hardly function without his father figure. And Pandra is the weirdest one of all, as demonstrated by a romantic scene in which she and Adam confess their attraction to each other. It's one of the strangest moments of teen love ever captured on film.

Just when you think this movie can't get any more weirdly, bizarrely entertaining, with ghostly white wolves appearing and disappearing, the kids get attacked by a bear. You should watch this scene in slow motion to see its fakeness and sheer absurdity. However, when a wolf they found recently is killed by a bear, the group must protect its pups. The film focuses on the group, The White Wolves, led by their enthusiastic teacher. Years before Mr. B was once lost in the wilderness, and tells a story about how he was assisted and saved by a white wolf.

Acting from the amateur cast ranges from good to mediocre throughout--sometimes in the same scene. We are treated to some nice scenery, with a white wolf and a savage bear. Curiously, you never see any of the characters in any of these animal shots, so it's probably recycled footage from the first film.

It's a formula movie produced by Julie Corman, Roger Corman's wife, and overall seems to be generic. While there are a lot of holes in the story, it has a 1980's feel with the clothing, hair styles and some lame special effects. It does have some wonderful scenery, good storyline and a strong message about taking on responsibility and challenges. There is a brief reference to a plane crash that leads one to believe this is a sequel to A CRY IN THE WILD. WHITE WOLVES certainly isn't the worst movie following this formula. But you've seen it before. It's so bad it's good.


As a plea-bargain to clear their school records, a group of misfit teens go into the majestic but unforgiving wilderness to help young wolf researcher Ben Harris (Corin Nemec) save the vanishing wolves. At the beginning of the film several teenagers are forced together through the Lupine Foundation which sends them out into the wilderness for a nature hike. They were all assigned to the Lupine Foundation in lieu of juvenile hall where they all would have been for various petty crimes. Beri Jones (Ele Keats) is the only one who won't confess her crime. Crystal Myers (Elizabeth Berkley) was arrested for petty theft and "Miami" Steve was arrested for tagging. Steve (Ernie Reyes Jr) has a difficult time in the woods because he still has the desire to tag. Ben Harris, who has had a lot of experience in the wilderness, is their leader and also involved in the Foundation's funding to save the wolves. He claims that sometime in the past, when he was out in the wilderness alone, a white wolf actually led him to safety, and saved his life.

After taking canoes across a lake, the foursome exit and start their hike up into the forest. Shortly after their trek begins, they see a mother wolf and her two baby cubs. The adorable cubs romp and wrestle in a meadow while the mother wolf looks on. The next day, our group meet Mason (Jeremy London) and Jeff (Justin Whalin), brothers who are up there parasailing. As the winds have changed, Mason and Jeff join the group on their hike.

Along the way, our group of now six, come across the mother wolf who has been killed by a mountain lion. It now becomes a quest to locate the baby cubs and make sure they are taken care of until another wolf family can take them. Miami Steve eventually finds the cubs and the group takes turns caring for them. They name the cubs Burt and Ernie. It is Crystal and Beri's turn to watch Burt and Ernie, who are now on leashes tied to a tree. As the cubs play, Mason and Jeff invite the girls to watch Mason parasail. Knowing the cubs should be okay for awhile, they agree to go. In the meantime, Burt and Ernie have exhausted themselves playing so fall asleep. When they awaken and are alone, they start whining as they try to pull on the leashes to escape. They eventually chew the leashes off and run off into the woods. Later, when Ben and Steve return, they find that Burt and Ernie are missing and realize that Crystal and Beri have left them alone. After lashing out at the girls for leaving the cubs alone, Steve takes off looking for them. He finds them nearby eating out of a ditch. As Steve calls them, they come bouncing over to him.

Throughout their trip, Ben has emphasized the necessity of burying food scraps at least 100 yards from the campsite. Miami Steve, annoyed about something that was said around the campfire, buries the scraps approximately 20 yards away. As a result, a bear, smelling the food, roars and comes charging into the campsite. The cubs are scooped up by one of the group and run into the tent. The bear, looking for food, tears the stuffing out of the sleeping bags. Steve, Jeff, Crystal and Beri grab Burt and Ernie, put them in an ice chest for protection, and run down to the river to the canoes. Our group jumps into the canoes and take off, leaving the bear roaring at them back on the river bank.

In the meantime, Ben and Mason, both injured, are further down the river, unconscious. Once again, the same white wolf saves Ben and Mason's life by dragging them from the river. In their search for Ben and Mason, Jeff and Beri see the white wolf on the riverbank. Remembering Ben's story about the white wolf saving his life, Jeff and Beri follow the wolf. When they get to a cave, they find a family of white mice huddled together. Meanwhile, back at the new campsite, Crystal supervises Ben and Ernie playing on the riverbank with a fish in one of their mouths. After Ben and Mason have been rescued, the white wolf stands majestically nearby. After seeing that, Steve releases Burt and Ernie who run to the white wolf, whom it seems will become the cubs' new guardian. The intent of this film is to display the resourcefulness of young people when confronted with life threatening situations, as well as the true good nature of wolves.


In this outdoor adventure, three young people find themselves fighting for survival in a frozen wilderness. They are put to the test when the plane taking them to a wilderness boot camp for juvenile offenders crashes. Their Indian pilot, Quentin (Rodney A Grant), injured and ununable to make the dangerous journey, teaches them the ways of his ancient people and to have faith in the spirit of the white wolf as well as themselves. Pamela (Mercedes McNab) and Jack (Mick Cain) must call upon an ancient Native American spirit of a legendary white wolf to help them survive. This movie shows how different characters have to work together, trust each other and the white wolf to lead them to safety. They only have to walk 200 miles to find the tiny ranger station in the middle of nowhere. Forced to rely on their wits and their limited knowledge of fending for themselves in the arctic, they receive life-saving assistance from an unlikely source--a white wolf which seems to understand their predicament as he helps them find food and shelter and guides them back to civilization.

Jack's mom: (Watching Pamela and her family coming) You're daughter better watch out, my son's a real ladies man.
Jack: Yeah. Haven't you heard I'm a "real ladies man"?

Pamela: (trying to start a fire with two sticks) This is impossible!
Quentin: Keep going. It's how man first made fire.
Pamela: Well that just shows you how great men are. If a woman had created this, it would be a lot easier!

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