Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Werewolves in the Woodlands

I’m presently working on a werewolf novel and I’ve had to take my own take on it rather than the traditional. However, I realized when I chose the subject that I’ve been fascinated with werewolf mythology forever.

What is it about the subject that piques our interest? The concept of a man who is also a beast is a theme that’s been played out ever since Greek Mythology with the Minotaur in the labyrinth who was part bull and part human. Man is always held back by his humanity, but he is also part animal. The human side in most cases wins out in our behavior, but the concept that the animal side completely takes over is chilling.

It’s believed that in the Middle Ages the werewolf legend began with a fear of wolves in the woodlands surrounding villages. Apparently, our popularized werewolf involves changing only on a full moon, but “real” werewolves can change at will. I know the former makes for cinematic movie plots, but the latter is actually much grizzlier. Imagine someone being able to turn when he wishes?

In America we have a werewolf legend, the Beast of Bray Road in Wisconsin. This reported dog-man was first reported in the 1980s. According to Wikipedia the beast is described many ways including; a bear-like creature, a hairy biped resembling Bigfoot, and an unusually large (2-4 feet tall on all fours, 7 feet tall standing up) or an intelligent wolf-like creature apt to walk on its hind legs and weighing 400-700 pounds. Although the Beast of Bray Road has not been seen to transform from a human into a wolf in any of the sightings, it has been labeled a werewolf in newspaper articles.

How do you kill a werewolf? You can decapitate it or remove its heart or use a silver object which apparently it’s allergic to. It’s believed that the silver is magical by ancient pagan beliefs. How do you become one? Lots of explanations from; pact with the devil, black magic, being bitten by one, being a seventh son, incantations and curses.

Movies to get you in the werewolf mood: “Teen Wolf,” “The Howling,” “An American Werewolf in London,” “Big Bad Wolf,” “Ginger Snaps,” “Never Cry Wolf,” “Blood and Chocolate,” “The Feeding,” “Underworld: Evolution,” “Wolf,” “The Beast of Bray Road.” There’s actually a site just about werewolf movies (yahoo!) find it here.

I admit that of the monster movies, werewolves are my very favorite. I’m so glad they don’t really go out of style. To me a really good one includes darkened forests and the primal aspects of a beast without conscience and its need to hunt for flesh. I like it when writers and moviemakers keep it down to the basic elements.

For the novel I’m writing, the werewolf aspect includes elements of my theories I knock around in this blog. It’s great to be able to use the theories and work them into something ancient and elemental. I hope to add something to it that hasn’t been seen before.

So, tell me, are you more fascinated with werewolf movies, vampires, or Frankenstein’s monster?


  1. I personally love all monsters, but werewolves, by far, are my favorite creatures of the night. And like yourself, the best werewolves to me are the ones that can change at will. I think part of our fascination in the werewolf legend comes from our envy in the unbound freedom of wild animals. Let's face it. Human civilization can at times feel like one giant overcrowded prison cell. So many rules and expectations. It's no wonder the werewolf has remained a popular favorite in the American subconscious. I know I would be tempted to get bit by one if they did indeed existed.

    I also DID happen to drive through northern Wisconsin once at night some time ago, and god are we talking darkness. The woods are like walls on either side of the road and if you're car were to break down there, good luck. It wouldn't surprise me to find out something weird hides there.

  2. Hey Grim;
    Yeah, well you know me and woodlands...I love the idea of just shedding your humanity and racing through the woods with only the rudimentary drives to eat, rest, and procreate. It sounds pretty sweet after a day of hard work in the city and life in the suburbs. I've heard that about Wisconsin, too. I love really dark woods. The last time I was in West Virginia, I took the walk through the woods without my flashlight. I had to feel my way down the path and kept hearing something walking parallel with me. It was very exciting and primitive. I liked the idea of being stalked by a creature and having to go to its level to survive. I'm such a freak. Good thing I write horror.