Where Europe has the legend of the werewolf, America has the dogman.
There have been a lot of other documentaries that have debated and theorized the existence of dogmen. From the most infamous cases of the Michigan Dogman to the Beast of Bray Road, these humanoid wolf-like creatures have become the stuff of nightmares.
While other documentaries have shared stories and speculated encounters of dogmen, as told by a panel of experts, authors, folklorists, and investigators. ‘American Werewolves’ instead leaves the storytelling to the witnesses. Those who have come across the beasts and lived to tell their tales.
‘American Werewolves’ initially travels to Ohio, where we’re introduced to three unfortunate souls who happen to cross paths with monsters plucked from their worst nightmares.
First up is a woman who recalls her chance encounter with a creature with amber eyes. A creature that managed to keep pace alongside the vehicle, as she and her boyfriend attempted to flee the area.
Next, we’re introduced to a man who recounts his run-in with a six-foot-tall beast while out for a run on a lone country road. That fateful night, while he was running past a cornfield, he found himself faced with the realization that an unknown entity lurked within the corn.
The next unlucky individual happened across a tattered and bloody pair of woman’s pants while he was out in search of dogmen. To his dismay, he may have found what he was looking for when he discovered the remains of a bloody and tattered set of woman’s clothing.
From here, ‘American Werewolves’ jumps the state line, as it moves to Kentucky, where we learn about the dark history of the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area.
In Kentucky, we meet a man who is plagued by a nocturnal visitor. An unwanted guest with glowing red eyes that would watch him from the trees. The creature, which he described as a “giant canine,” would scratch its claws outside his window, possibly attempting to lure the man outside to his impending doom.
Then we met another poor soul who had the misfortune of finding himself coming up close and personal with one of the beasts while out hunting with his dogs. While the man lived to tell his tale that night, one of his dogs was not so fortunate. This would not be his only run-in with a dogman, as just two years ago he once again found himself face-to-face with the terrifying creature.
Having cheated death on two separate occasions, this individual now refuses to go out at night, for the next time he might not be so lucky.
‘American Werewolves’ then introduces us to a retired police officer, who describes his experience visiting the Land Between the Lakes. While camping in the recreation area, he recalls how it felt as if he was being followed. Before long, he hears whistling and sees something standing behind a tree. That very night, he received a visit from the very thing that he had seen earlier that day, a visit that he would never forget.
Along with the testimonies from those who witnessed firsthand the monsters that dwell within the Land Between the Lakes, ‘American Werewolves’ shares stories of those who visited the recreation area but, regrettably, didn’t survive to tell their tale.
What made ‘American Werewolves’ interesting was the fact that it focused on a subject matter that has seldom been covered before, with the exception of the more famous cases of dogmen in America.
It also provided the opportunity for those who allegedly encountered dogmen to theorize where they believe these creatures come from. The general consensus in Ohio seemed to revolve more around the notion of the dogmen being more akin to the legend of the Skinwalkers. Whereas the dogmen in Kentucky involved the lesser-known Beast of the Land Between the Lakes and the troubled history of the area.
Much like with any documentary covering the topic of a cryptid, you won’t find any resolution to whether or not dogmen actually exist. Instead, the film serves to explore a facet of American folklore that is often overshadowed by the more popular legends of werewolves or Rougarou’s.
As a viewer, I found little suspense in the stories that were shared within the film. I feel the fault lies in the fact that the filmmaker didn’t attempt to recreate the events as they’re being shared. The visualization of the events would have allowed the viewer to put themselves more into the situation, and build a more suspenseful atmosphere.
The filmmaker made some attempts to recreate the story, but it only came in quick snippets and mostly consisted of out-of-focus shots of a dogman, but for the most part, the film consisted of people describing their tales to the camera.
If this is your preferred method of delivery, this project would have worked better as a podcast, as it would have relied on the listener to imagine the situation, rather than watch somebody in a chair tell their story.
On a scale of 1-5 stars, I give this movie 2.5 stars.
If you are fascinated with cryptids, particularly the existence of dogmen, then ‘American Werewolves’ is a film that you would benefit from watching.
If, on the other hand, you don’t believe in the existence of dogmen, then this documentary is not something you are going to want to check out.
‘American Werewolves’ debuts on major streaming platforms on July 5, 2022, from 1091 Pictures, including iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, and FandangoNOW.
Or you can head on over to Small Town Monsters and order your own copy of ‘American Werewolves’ for yourself.
I have come here to chew bubblegum and write horror, and I’m all out of bubblegum.