Archive for werewolves

Monday Monster Profile: Werewolves

Posted in Monday Monster Profile with tags , on March 1, 2010 by gobbets

Werewolves were the winners of last week’s poll so they have the dubious distinction of being the focus of the first Monday Monster Profile:

What are Werewolves?

Werewolves fall into the larger category of ‘shapeshifters’. Specifically, werewolves are humans who are capable of turning into either completely into wolves or into wolfmen (half wolf/half human hybrids). Some werewolves can change shape at will, others can only change during the full moon. It is generally understood that even a werewolf that can change at will must change under the influence of a full moon.

How do I know if I’m looking at one?

When they’re in human form you probably won’t. Unless it is fast approaching full moon, when werewolves in human form have been known to act grouchy, jumpy, depressed or just hyper. In their alternative forms, werewolves will either look like an ordinary wolf (often retaining a ‘human’ look to their eyes), or a very large wolf, or a large, hairy person with wolf-like features (hands, feet, elongated muzzle, pointy ears etc). You should try very hard to be elsewhere at this point.

How does a person become a werewolf?

It seems in some cases it is hereditary, a rare form of lycanthropy where instead of the person just believing they can turn into a wolf they actually do.  Hereditary or ‘born’ werewolves are rare though – most often people become werewolves as a result of being bitten by other werewolves.

Current theories suggest that there is something in werewolf saliva that ‘infects’ the person bitten, and the ‘virus’ begins a period of incubation in the host. During the incubation period, the host commonly suffers from a high fever, increased hunger (often a craving for rare meat) and discovers heightened senses of smell and hearing. After the first full ‘change’ (either at the next full moon or at the end of the incubation period for change-at-will shapeshifters) the person is now a werewolf.

Is there a cure?

No. Most werewolves simply adapt to their condition, locking themselves away during the full moon, or only opting to change when it is safe to do so, and refraining from biting in social situations. Death is also a cure of sorts to those who no longer feel able to live with their condition.

What should I do if a werewolf is after me?

It is important to remember that a werewolf is also a human being and has very little say in their condition. Some werewolves retain no memory of their ‘wolf’ times and may be quite surprised when confronted with evidence of their condition. If at all possible a werewolf should be trapped and held at a secure location until they revert to human form and can be reasoned with. Usually hereditary or change-at-will werewolves are adept at managing their condition and pose few problems – it’s usually the recently bitten, who may have no idea what’s happening to them, that cause all the havoc.

In some cases a werewolf goes ‘bad’ and chooses to give in to their worst impulses while in wolf form (it is unfair to say they choose to act like wolves, for even wolves don’t chase and kill humans for the fun of it). In this situation you will probably need to kill it.

How am I supposed to do that?

Usually ‘silver’ in some form is recommended for the destruction of werewolves – and since you don’t want to get too up close and personal, silver bullets tend to be the weapon of choice.  You can stab them with a silver knife, or slice them up with a silver sword but these methods are not recommended for amateurs (for one thing – how expensive do you think a silver sword is?). You can also get good results with fire and decapitation – there aren’t too many things that you can’t kill in this way.

Lastly, if at all possible try not to just run away. Firstly, it won’t work. They’re much, much faster than you (they have more legs – even a wolfman can choose to run on all fours). Secondly, even otherwise respectable werewolves have reported that the urge to chase something that’s running away is just overwhelming.

What do I do if I get bitten in the process?

Clean and dress the wound. Stock up on rare steaks and invest in some chains and handcuffs. Sorry.

I want more information!

Sabine Baring-Gould’s The Book of Werewolves (1865) is a seminal work on the subject. But if Victorian folklore isn’t your thing you could opt for one of the more modern ‘documentaries’. There are hundreds, but I’d recommend:

The Wolfman (1941)

The Howling (1981)

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

Teen Wolf (1985)

Wolf (1994)

Ginger Snaps (2000)

Dog Soldiers (2002)

Underworld (2003)

The Wolfman (2010)

Please recommend any other tips or sources for our database!

And don’t forget to vote for your favourite werewolf movie in our poll! (if yours isn’t there, send us a comment and tell us about it!)

The Wolfman: Lon Chaney would be proud

Posted in Reviews with tags , on February 25, 2010 by gobbets

Though film remakes have a reputation in horror circles of being unmitigated disasters (my hackles rise just thinking about Nicholas Cage butchering The Wicker Man!) I’m going to go out on a limb and say I love the new version on The Wolfman. Now the 1941 original starring Lon Chaney is an undisputed classic – but I think even the wolfman himself would howl with pleasure over this one.

The opening scene sends little shivers down the spine of the true fan who will immediately recognise the poem from the original:

Even a man who is pure in heart
and says his prayers by night
may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
and the autumn moon is bright.

The Victorian setting-  replete with misty moors, eerie manor house housing ghosts of the family’s troubled past, and the usual gaggle of gypsys and superstitious locals – is new, but works well to create the right atmosphere of mystery and suspense (and of course to capitalise on the craze for all things Victorian at the moment!).

The inclusion of Hugo Weaving as Inspector Aberline (more famous for his work on the Jack the Ripper Case!) adds another element of interest into an already full dance card of celebrated character actors. Anthony Hopkins plays an eccentric and increasingly sinister patriarch (no surprises there!) and Benicio Del Toro (a collector of original Wolfman memorabilia) has just the right hangdog look to play the confused, melancholy Talbot Jnr.

The ‘look’ of the wolfman is strikingly similar to the original – with Del Toro becoming the man-wolf hybrid made famous by Lon Chaney rather than the ‘large wolf’ type werewolf favoured by modern films. Interestingly it seems the hirsuit Del Toro made make-up artist Rick Baker’s job a little harder: “Where do you go from there? He’s practically there as it is! … going from Benicio to Benicio as the Wolfman isn’t a really extreme difference” (you can read the rest of the interview here).

The attention to detail in the set is amazing – it will take a few watches to really see all the curios scattered through the house – and the clues to the real mystery of the wolfman that are hidden in plain sight. And I’m certain the cinematographers had enormous fun setting up shots that mirror those from the original film, but with a wry twist here and there.

The Wolfman is no ‘prodigal son’ but a faithful heir to the Hammer throne.

The best bits: the scene in the asylum’s lecture theatre, and the bloody fingerprints on the piano keyboard.

Rating: 4 severed thumbs