The Werewolf of Fever Swamp
Long before the craptastic Twilight turned werewolves into vaguely ethnic, shirtless emo kids with strange obsessions for white girls with no personality and their half-vampire offspring, RL Stine had that shit on lock. Wedged between the lame werewolves of today and the ones that new how to ball in the 80’s, The Werewolf of Fever Swamp fulfills exactly what you would expect from the story and the tension of the two-part episode is palpable.
As I continue to watch these, it’s becoming obvious that each episode sort of follows the same path: kid witnesses something eerie, tries to tell his unbelieving parents, then spends the rest of the episode trying to prove what he saw. I can’t call it lazy or discount the episode because of this fact, because The Twilight Zone got away with sticking to a formula, but the pattern is worth noting.
This time, the story revolves around Grady who just moved with his family (That sounds familiar!) to Florida so his scientist parents can study whether or not deer can live in Florida (who cares?). Grady meets up with this kid Will, who basically knows all there is to know about the swamp and warns Grady of werewolves, fevers, and that crazy old hermit that lives in the swamp. Wouldn’t you know it: Grady can’t seem to steer clear of any of them. Because there’s nothing Grady likes more than stumbling around a swamp forest on his own.
The fever thing kind of comes and goes in the story without having much bearing on the plot, but suspecting the old crazy dude that lives in the woods to be the werewolf, Grady investigates, only to be captured in the old man’s hunting net and brought back to his shack in order to… I don’t know. Seriously, if you live in a shack and you accidentally trap a young boy in a net, you probably should just let him go. Anyway, Grady eventually escapes the shack after catching the old dude barking at the moon (did we mention he’s crazy) and when he gets home he tells his mom that the dude is a werewolf and they should do something. What’s weird is that the kid never mentions that the guy basically kidnapped him and brought him back to his kink lair to act out his own private Roman Polanski dinner party. Maybe Grady doesn’t get molested if he sticks around, but if you want something done about the crazy dude in the woods, you scream “Rape!” not “Werewolf!” Common sense, Grady.
Anyway, doglike mayhem starts to happen, too, which points squarely at the stray dog Grady decides to keep and this puts that dog in the doghouse… get it? The dad disappears because something made all the deer run away and now he has to catch them, as if anyone has caught a deer without putting one between their eyes. While the dad is away, the werewolf comes with indisputable evidence that Grady has been telling the truth the whole time. This led me to believe that the twist would be that the dad was a werewolf, but I was wrong. More predictably, it was that kid Will that seems to know all about werepeople and the silliness of the whole “silver bullet” theory. A chase ensues and when WereWill has Grady dead to rights, that dog that everyone seemed to hate earlier comes to the rescue and pushes Will into the swamp, never to be seen again.
This is basically the story you would get if you could average out all the plot points of a Goosebumps story into a narrative. It’s neither good nor bad; it just sort of exists. The lead kid actor that plays Grady is actually a pretty decent actor, despite the fact that he’s weird looking and is probably Canadian.