Movies for Gamers #11: De Vloek van Woestewolf

This is part of a series of reviews of movies particularly interesting or inspiring for role playing. Because of their setting, style, characters, editing or story. Read the introduction here or here if you are new to this series.

Yes, this movie title is Dutch. And it's only available in Dutch. It's a children series for TV, made in the 1970s. And it means “Curse of the Werewolf”. It is based on a book by Paul Biegel, which was translated into english, french and spanish - so if you're not keen on learning our language you might consider finding the book.

A little over a year ago it came out on DVD, and to my surprise the story still works. It is no longer as scary as it was when I first saw it – I was eight at the time – but it's still fun to watch. If you understand Dutch, that is.

The story follows doctor Kroch who is given a huge treasure to cure a patient from gold fever. At first the doctor is not interested in the treasure, but when it is stolen by bungling thieves Oenk and Boenk, his interest is piqued. He sets out to find the rich patient, the Duke of Dire Wolf, and his adventures become stranger and stranger. And if you're young: scarier and scarier.

The special thing of the show is, that it's filmed entirely in front of a blue screen. And the backdrops are children book illustrations. It makes it a strange mix between child fairy tale and real life. The illustrations are very atmospheric – done by Carl Hollander. And the excellent storyline is done by children book writer Paul Biegel.

It's easy to convert the story to a more grown up, grittier version, and use it as a series of adventures. Your players don't have to play a doctor. But they could be invited to lift a curse. And then they'll have to find the Castle of Woestewolf, a ghostly place that exists only when the stars are right. Somewhere between reality and fairy tale. And in the mean time they have to resist the... gold fever.

Another thing you might consider, is using such a  - slightly scary - children series as a storyline for a game for your kids.

Yes, you could entice your eight year old or twelve year old into playing exciting fantasy story with werewolves, but with bungling thieves, silly grown ups, and so on. I'd not give them the roles of the doctor and his assistant, but make them children who travel with the doctor and his assistant instead. They would have to help the grown ups and be smarter than same grown ups (which will be fairly easy, actually). You shouldn't make the game deadly, and give experience points for being smart instead of slaying everything on their path maybe. But I think it will work. I already did a few role playing experiments with my seven year old, so...

Go see it, if you dare. And speak Dutch. Or no, wait. I think I'll use it myself in an adventure first.

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