Technology, Films, Nonsense


Posted by kraftymiles on March 3, 2008

I’ll tell you up front that it’s not the Zombies and their associated despair, or the fear of the outsider Vampire that gives me the willies, its Werewolves. The thing with the werewolves is that whilst you can say that you are trying your hardest to survive against the odds that the world throws at you (Zombies) or that, No, you are not a fearin’ of outsiders (Vampires); werewolves are in us all, and these days, not just men.

Werewolves differ from vamps and zombies in that they have been around a lot longer, initially appearing in history as essentially an excuse for foul deeds. It wasn’t me that killed yon maiden, it was the wolfman. Kind of a medieval “The dog ate my homework”. Over time, however, they have transformed into something more sinister. There are two main themes that run through out werewolf movies, that of cyclical violence and that of “it’s in us all” and it’s that second one that gets me on a dark night.

Cyclical violence, well that’s an easy one to discuss. Menstruation. Once a month at full moon the main protagonist goes loopy and bites the heads off raw chickens or in the case of the werewolf, goes out and attacks humans. This comes through clearest in “Ginger Snaps” and Angela Carter’s “In the Company of Wolves”. Both are essentially about a girl becoming a woman and the monthly cycles that ensue. There is an older version kicking around though, and that’s one we tell our kids on dark nights, Little Red Riding Hood. Although in the case of LRRH, there are more undertones of female sexuality than properly fit into a discussion on werewolves.
SIDE BAR. Why on earth do we do that? Horror stories at bed time? Come on! “Here you go small child, a nasty story where granny gets eaten by a wolf, now I’m going to turn off all the lights and shut the door, see you in 12 hours.” You may as well add “If you’re still alive! Muah ha ha ha!!!”
Ginger Snaps ranks up there as my all time favourite Werewolf film, and yes higher than American Werewolf in London. (of which, more later). The Film centres around two sisters and follows the coming of age of one of them, namely Ginger. Essentially, whilst out and about, Ginger is bitten by a beast, bleeds heavily, starts growing hair in unsightly places and shacks up with an undesirable youth. That story is every girl’s teenage years, isn’t it?
This theme has been used in the real world when talking about serial killers. These days your serial killer has to do something a little different to stand out from the crowd, so Cannibalism is on the menu. And the very nature of serial killers is that they kill, wait, and kill again. Maybe serial killers are not such a recent invention after all?

In the sense of full disclosure, Angela Carter lived in my street when she was at Bristol Uninersity. She wrote the book and I think the screenplay for “In the Company of Wolves”; so no hiding the feminist magical realism in that one. While we’re on it, Cary Grant was born round the corner and Paul Dirac would have been here at the same time as well. There’s no one famous in the street now, well, apart from the monkey fucker, and he’s not that famous. He’s devoted his entire life to studying the great apes, worked with Dianne Fossey and what does he get remembered for….? Well I’m sure you know the rest of the story,

So enough of the chicks, what about the blokes I hear you cry? Well, all men are shits. That’s the deal. Here we come to the first werewolf film I ever watched, The Howling, I would have been about 12 at the time. Scared the crap outta me. In this one, a male serial killer is stalking a reporter, turns out he’s a werewolf. They catch him and send the reporter and her husband to a commune to get over it. Husband plays the field, screws another woman and BANG, he’s a werewolf. Now I read that back, I can’t work out what it was that scared me at the time.
Wolf starring Jack Nicholson is a bit different in that you expect old Jack to be the shit, but he’s actually the nice guy, it’s Spader who’s the shit in this case. Jack loses his job, Spader is shagging his wife, but then Jack pisses on his leg, so that makes it all right.

And it’s the final category that has brought us our most famous Werewolf film. The reluctant beast. Those animals who show the humanity beneath the animal,

You may note that throughout these entries I’ve not touched on anything that can be construed cross-over. For example, I’ve never wondered about underlying themes in “Frankenstein meets the Werewolf” with uber-wolfman Lon Chaney, because these crossover films, with one or two notable exceptions are only ever made because the two genres are popular at a certain time. Studio thinking will be along the lines of “Hey Werewolves are popular; Frankenstein is popular; so imagine how popular the two together would be!” Whether or not they are popular, they’re always shit. cf. Freddy Vs Jason.

A couple of final ones. Of course there are werewolves in Harry Potter, one of the teachers and one of the bad guys if I recall correctly. Here they are just another of the marginalised groups at the school, but then that’s the whole point of Potter, the bringing together of loads of people who are outcasts and showing them that they’re OK. Or have I missed the point in it somewhat?

Dog Soldiers: I have no idea what the underlying themes in this one are. Scotland is not a nice place to go camping? Don’t join the army? Who can tell, but hell, its fun. The sequel is in the works at the moment, supposed storyline kicks off from when the Special Forces chaps get eaten. Talking of such things, the Benny del Toro remake of The Wolf Man (the role that made Lon Chaney famous) has been touted for a while, but I’ve no idea If that will ever make it out of pre-production hell.

Altogether now….

If you hear him howling around your kitchen door
You better not let him in
Little old lady got mutilated late last night
Werewolves of London again
Ah-ooooo, werewolves of London

He’s the hairy-handed gent who ran amok in Kent
Lately he’s been overheard in Mayfair
You better stay away from him
He’ll rip your lungs out, Jim
Ha, I’d like to meet his tailor
Ah-ooooo, werewolves of London


2 Responses to “Werewolves”

  1. Shereen said

    RE: Fairytale SIDE BAR

    Because they generally tend to end with “and they all lived happily ever after”?

    Although I hear fairy tales are getting nicer these days anyway. My friend showed me the LRRH one his daughter gets told at creche. There’s no gobblng up by the wolf – LRRH merely hides in a cupboard until the hunter rescues her. But I guess that’s another whole layer of hidden meaning…

  2. kraftymiles said

    Shame it wasn’t a lumberjack with his meaty chopper and then the meaning would be clear.

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