Were-Beasts

“Ah’m the werewolf o’ th’ Old West! ‘N’ ah kin rip yuh apart, chew yer biggest steer ta bits, ‘n’ gen’r’ly raise all the hell ah want t’ raise! And ain’t no one can do anythin’ t’ stop me, ’cause ain’t nothin’ kin kill me, ‘cept a silver bullet! So what makes you think I gots t’ be scared o’ you or your Injun friend, masked man?”

Forgive me for that little, probably failed, attempt at humor. But I thought it might be a cute introduction to this subject,

When it comes to transformations, few, if any, are more popular than werewolves. Any blog or round-robin tale (cyoc.net) or sites for transformation stories is going to have a tale of lycanthropy or two — or LOTS. Maybe it will be the kind of werewolf that only transforms under the full moon. (There’s a minor debate over if that’s four, three, or only one night a month.) Maybe it will be the kind that can occur whenever the subject wants it to occur (<i>The Howling</i>). It can be the result of a curse or an experiment.

I recently watched An American Werewolf in Paris. I was a little disappointed by it, as I thought it was going to be about the daughter of An American Werewolf in London. Nope, it was another American kid who escapes with a lycanthrope-caused injury and then turns into a werewolf himself. He is joined in this by a female werewolf, but we don’t see as much of her as we do him. (And there’s an entire pack of werewolves involved in this story.) I thought it was okay, and (mild spoiler here), it had a happy ending, something you rarely see in werewolf movies.

I much preferred the London story. It had some nice touches to it, such as the werewolf being haunted by his victims’ ghosts and being told the hauntings will continue until the one causing the deaths is himself killed.

In looking over some of the werewolf stories written in round-robin transformation stories (Choose Your Own Change, Fiction Branches), one appeal to the writers seems to be the werewolf having a harem made up of women that the main werewolf has turned himself. I remember one story I read where the harem was made up of his mother’s female co-workers, including the lady boss, and, oh, yes, the mother herself.

I think mostly it is the wildness of the werewolf life that appeals to fans. Being able to hunt, to run, maybe to avoid death if you go with the silver bullet idea. (Other versions have the werewolf being able to be killed like any other animal, a normal bullet, a mortal injury.)

I very much liked the original Howling, with its encampment of werewolves, some trying to live peacefully among humans, others giving that up to prey on whatever animal they come across, including Homo Sapiens. And, as someone who prefers seeing women transforming, the high point of Howling was seeing Dee Wallace, the future mom of E.T, turning into a werewolf. I thought the make-up job was very well done.

But then, there’s also my dislike of transformed people being killed. This is a BIG problem with werewolf stories. As I said earlier, werewolf stories usually don’t have happy endings. Movie people especially seem to believe the most satisfying ending of a werewolf movie is for the werewolf to die.

Then, there is the fact that so few werewolves are female. I devoted an entire blog entry to the disappointment of She-Wolf of London. Chloe Grace Moritz was briefly seen as a teenage werewolf in the Dark Shadows movie. But most werewolves are male. (For an excellent essay on this situation, to here: https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-great-female-werewolves )

Below is a still from the movie In the Company of Wolves, which some people love and others are “It turns into ‘Little Red Who?'” Say what you will about the movie, it did a nice job of portraying a she-wolf in her human form.

1984 — Actress Danielle Dax on the set of “Company of Wolves”. — Image by © Sunset Boulevard/Corbis

I heard from a couple of people when I asked for feedback about werewolves. One was  SenorIncognito69, who wondered if I was going to deal with other were beasts. He was particularly interested in the 1982 remake of Cat People with Malcolm Mcdowell and Nastassja Kinski. “It’s probably the only full TF tale made into film so far and that has some merit and deserves recognition,” he said. But we agreed it featured a kind of transformation we don’t like, where the change to the animal happens under the skin, until the cat bursts out through the skin and leaves it behind in shreds.

And, I got an e-mail from Anthony Spotts on deviantArt. He said “Personally, I’m a fan of the ‘unaware/unexpected’ transformation.  The woman who forgot it was a full moon, or doesn’t keep track of it well, or doesn’t know she is a werewolf until she gazes on the moon.  Part of it is because the fear of the change, but also because it usually involves growing and ripping out of whatever they were wearing when they change.

“If I were to have a preference beyond the physical transformation, I have a slighter preference for one where she remains somewhat personality-wise close to her human side – maybe a bit more aggressive, sexual or impulsive (a la the older Savage She-Hulk comics) but still able to access memories or thoughts of her base self.  Though depending on the work, a feral change is alluring in the danger aspects.

“Story wise, the works of MrCharlieBaker on DeviantArt (particularly his short “Delays”) and Cursebearer are very good – a lot of focus on the mental and physical transformation.  I also am a Patreon subscriber to WereWorld, who is currently doing a couple comics about a young woman who finds out she’s a werewolf.  It’s a little bloodier than many people care for, but it’s pretty good.”

Forty-seven years ago, my local library got a book titled Werwolves by Elliot O’Donnell, which had stories from all over the world. I was particularly intrigued by learning of a Russian folk legend, the vargamor or vargamoor, a woman who has a bond with wolves, were- or otherwise. I’m surprised no one has used this legend as a basis for a movie.

But I recognize we’ve only scratched the surface when discussing werewolves. Anyone who would like to add to this conversation, please feel free to do so.

And, where I started this entry with my silly little story, I can think of no better way to end it than this:

Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night,

May become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and Autumn moon is bright.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s