Jack: Now, I'm really sorry to be upsetting you, but I have to warn you. David: Warn me? Jack: We were attacked by a werewolf. David: [putting his hands over his ears] I'm not listening to this! Jack: On the moors, we were attacked by a lycanthrope, a werewolf. I was murdered, an unnatural death, and now I walk the earth in limbo until the werewolf's curse is lifted.David: Shut up! Jack: The wolf's bloodline must be severed; the last remaining werewolf must be destroyed. It's you, David! Or is it you...will you be howling at the moon come this Halloween? Lets hope so and let us help you out with the perfect werewolf costume. Wether youre looking for something scary or something fun were sure we have something for you from the cult classic 80s film teen wolf to the iconic transformation from Michael Jackson's Thriller video or if its a red riding hood inspired party try the big bad granny wolf costume....see you're alright NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!!!
The Lycanthrope comes from the Greek meaning of wolf and man and is commonly known to us as a werewolf. A mythological human from folklore who has the ability to shape shift from human form to that of a wild wolf like animal, it is believed that a human will change after being cursed or afflicted by being bitten by another werewolf, as in the same way of the superstition as that of the vampire curse. The mythology surrounding humans who could shape shift between animal and their own physical being has been around for centuries and the best example is the werewolf. Man has always feared and admired the wolf equally, early ancestors competed against packs of wolfs for food but had admiration for the wolfs hunting skills and of its swift aggression and strength.
So the desire for these skills became reality…of sorts. Warriors would dress in skins of animals to emphasise their voraciousness in battle and intimidate their opponents, Shaman of indian American tribes would intoxicate themselves with mind altering medicines in which time they believed to be taken over by the spirit of an animal. over the years the mythology and legend of the werewolf grew, stories from eastern europe of men who lived in a way was that of a wolf and believed to have the appearance of a wolf too. The belief that these wolf like humans could mate with humans and produce an offspring that could shape shift also fuelled the legend, none more so than the stories of cannibalism throughout these areas, with remote areas in a developing world in harsh seasons man was known to have eaten other humans in order to survive! Though of all it was religion that gave the legend a real terror and threat to mankind, claiming that this creature was an agent sent from hell to do the devils work.
WITNESS A MAN TRANSFORMED TO A BEAST BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES -
Was the tagline of the very first film to feature a werewolf in 1935 Werewolf of London hit the cinemas and was regarded by critics as too similar to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and subsequently flopped at the box office! So lets look at the most successful movies in the genre and the classics…and take a look at the modern takes on the genre.
The Company of Wolves released in 1984 Directed by Neil Jordan is a surreal British gothic horror that takes n place in modern times and is a macabre retelling of the fairy tale Red Riding Hood with a more gruesome and surreal twist!
Dog Soldiers released in 2002 was another British Horror filmed on a low budget and became an instant classic full of nail biting tension and gore ramped unto the max…it sees a group of soldiers on a training exercise against the special ops in the Scottish Highlands, though it was filmed almost in Luxembourg. While telling stories and jokes around the campfire a mutilated cow is falls down onto the campfire, upon following the trail of the cow they come across a severely wounded special ops soldier from then on its all out carnage as they fight for survival against this ferocious pack of werewolves!
Ginger Snaps, a play on words about the biscuit and female lead character creating a pun about werewolf's Ginger…Snaps! Is a Canadian horror released in 2000 focusing on two teenage sisters who have a morbid outlook on life as do most teenagers, riddled with angst they have a fascination with death. After school bullies attack Gingers sister during a game of hockey and is barged into the remains of a dead dog, Ginger vows to get revenge by kidnapping the bullies dog however they stumble upon the mutilated corpse of another dog then Ginger is attacked and dragged off screaming into the woods she manages to escape but days later she starts showing signs of becoming a lycanthrope. This film is filled with blood and gore and gives a refreshing twist to the genre mixing a coming of age angst ridden teenager with the ferocity of a werewolf!
Bela Lugosi famed for his role as Dracula replaces his fangs for some real gnashers in The Wolf Man the black and white classic! in this tragic adaption he finds himself playing the role of a gypsy werewolf, However Bela gets killed after attacking Larry Talbot played by Lon Chenney. Talbot stalks the village after he himself becomes a werewolf, first killing the local gravedigger. He continually struggles to overcome his condition yet retains the need to kill with memories of being a wolf at night. He meets his doom by the hands of his own father unbeknown to him with his own silver walking stick after he sees him attacking Gwen Larrys love interest in the film. Once dead the werewolf transforms into human form as the horror of what has happens become clear and that he has just killed his own son.
Without doubt the most popular film of the genre is the awesome funny and equally tragic and scary cult classic An American Werewolf In London written and directed by John Landis. It features two American students David Kessler and Jack Goodman backpacking across Europe and while in the Yorkshire moors decide to stop at a pub called The Slaughtered Lamb after a very strange and hostile encounter with the locals they decide to leave and upon leaving are advised "Beware the moon, lads" and "Keep to the road" advise that slipped their minds whilst talking about what they meant as they begin to hear howls and find themselves off the road and notice that the moon is full! The noises get closer until they find themselves being circled by some kind of animal, whilst running away David Falls and Jack is attacked and killed then David is attacked but the animal is shot and killed by the regulars from The Slaughtered Lamb. Whilst lying there David sees the body of a naked man before falling into a coma! when David wakes he he is visited by Jack who is now in limbo and warns David that he needs to kill himself, before he turns into a Lycanthrope, a werewolf! The film received critical acclaim and to some the real star of the film was the special effects artist Rick Baker who received an Oscar for the transformation effects of the werewolf and set a new bench mark for horror effects in the 1980's.
WEREWOLVES IN POPULAR CULTURE…
The legend of the werewolf saw an explosion within popular culture in the twentieth century with stories and novels coming from both sides of the Atlantic and most renowned was The Werewolf of Paris in written by the American author Guy Endore and is regarded as the Bram Stokers Dracula of werewolf novels and was adapted for Hammer Film Productions The Curse of the Werewolf! In recent times we have seen the crossover of the mythology surrounding both vampire and werewolf's with the likes of Hugh Jackmans Van Helsing and in particular the Underworld and Twilight trilogies both films tackle the war raging between the two supernatural forces and at points as allies.
The Genre has also seen its a fair share of spoofs and comedic takes such as The Monster squad, Wallace and Grommit and the Curse of the Wererabbit and the most notable classic Teen Wolf starring Michael J Fox as an average student wishing he was more popular. whilst a a party he begins to notice changes happening to him and when he returns home, locks himself in the bathroom and completely changes to 'Teen Wolf'! His father demand to open the door and after a while he does only to see that his father too is a werewolf! Its during a game of basketball that he reveals his alternate state to the other students shock, but starts to wow them with his basketball skills and is then mr popular! The theme of werewolf's appears in many songs wether its about the wolf itself or mans wolflike aggression or the moon, in the music video for thriller you see Michael Jackson transform into what looks like a werewolf but with the king of pop being that little bit different he actually becomes a werecat! The New York punk band, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs video to Heads Will Roll featured a werewolf dancing heavily inspired by Michael Jacksons moves, and sees it dancing on a stage similar to that of the street path on the video for Billy Jean. Werewolves have played a part in storytelling for ages. These cursed monsters have delighted and frightened countless children, and probably quite a few adults alike. So beware the moon and stick to the path, as you may find yourself with an uncontrollable craving for raw bloody meat and running throughout the night howling down darkened alleyways and then find your self to awaken in a wolf enclosure in the zoo and waiting for a bus in a red granny coat…with black fur trim?