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Monday, 5 October 2015

Werewolves - A Classic of the First Order - #MonsterMondays 20

So for the run up to Halloween I have decided to talk about classic monsters of gothic horror for Monster Mondays. These are the monsters everyone thinks of when someone talks about the classic horror movies of the early twentieth century or the classic books in the genre.
Monster Mondays posts may be fiction, film reviews, book reviews or me waxing lyrical about a particular monster. Monsters can be paranormal, sci-fi, fantasy or even simply human. So basically, anything monster goes. I also invite anyone who would like to, to join in with their own post. (See end for details).
Werewolves - A Classic of the First Order

Werewolves are classic monsters in all senses of the phrase. They appear in folklore all over the Europe, usually being very bad news, and they appear in many stories and films. They don't have quite as many films to their name as vampires, but they are definitely up there.

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When most people think of werewolves they probably associate them with full moons. However, there are many, many different ways of becoming a werewolf in folklore and fiction and not all of them are involuntary:
  • There is the classic of being bitten by an existing werewolf during their rampage at the full moon.
  • Being born on Christmas Day is an insult to Christ and hence the person is in danger of becoming a werewolf. (Curse of the Werewolf)
  • If you feed Zeus the roasted flesh of your son to see if he's truly omniscient then you're going to find yourself cursed and transformed into a wolf like Lycaon, king of Arcadia.
  • Taking off your clothes and putting on a wolf skin, with or without magical salve, can give you the power deliberately, usually thanks to the Devil.
  • You can drink a special drink and chant a special formula if you are Livonian - there was one Livonian, Thiess, who believed he and other werewolves were in fact the Hounds of God and fought the devil.
  • Excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church could result in becoming a werewolf (another way to keep the masses in line).
My favourite is being bitten, simply because it is the most exciting. Being chased through the darkness by a slathering creature of legend on the night of the full moon is much more interesting than climbing into a wolf skin, IMHO. In some versions of this legend there is a way out for the cursed - to find and kill the originator of the curse, the first werewolf in the chain. However, for others, once transformed, they are cursed for life. Not to mention the fact that some cultures believe that after death werewolves became something even worse, either vampires or zombies.

My favourite werewolves are as follows:
  • Teen Wolf

    This latest incarnation of the werewolf legend is from MTV and is set in the town of Beacon Hills, CA, a place that seems to attract the supernatural. The werewolves are not the baddies, well, at least, not all of them are. As you can see from this shot from season 3 the cast is very pretty. There are actually four werewolves, one hunter, a banshee, a kitsune and one normal human in the above image, but I'm not going to tell you which one is which :). I do enjoy Teen Wolf, but I have to admit they make questionable decisions about plot and characterisation at times.
  • An Amercian Werewolf in London

    This film is undoubtedly a classic. The transformation scene has to be one of the most traumatic and amazing in cinematic history. In the film, David and Jack are walking across the Yorkshire moors and stray from the path. Jack is killed by some kind of wild animal and David wakes up with just a mauling. However, things go downhill for him from there. (I really enjoy the sequel as well An Amercian Werewolf in Paris, even though it is definitely not a classic :)).
  • Underworld

    Vampires and werewolves in the same film, how could it not be one of my favourites. In the Underworld universe vampire and werewolves actually share a common ancestor, Alexander Corvinus, immortal thanks to a quirk of genetics, whose sons, Marcus and William were bitten by a bat and a wolf respectively, becoming vampires and werewolves. Werewolves were originally uncontrollable monsters, only later gaining the ability to return to human form and were used as slaves by the vampires.
  • The Wolf's Hour by Robert R. McCammon

    This is by far my favourite werewolf novel. It is set mostly during World War II and a British secret agent, Michael Gallatin, Russian by birth, is sent into occupied France to stop the Nazi's war machine. Michael's main advantage is that he is a werewolf, able to transform and use his wolf form against his opponents. The book is exciting, dragging you along, even when it flashes back to show Michael's origins in Russia. I re-read this one over and over again. It's a great book.
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So there you have werewolves and my favourite werewolf incarnations. I think werewolves sometimes get the short end of the stick when it comes to monster movies. They are often the dumb animals who kill without thought or mercy, sometimes being pointed in certain directions by evil machinations. I prefer my werewolves with a little more brain usually.

What is your favourite werewolf legend/fiction?

Monster Mondays Links 

If you would like to join in, please feel free to make your Monster Monday post and add it to the list.

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Still pimping out the Share a Scare Halloween Blog Hop. It will run on the 31st October as you would expect, but now is the time to sign up.

Have something a little bit scary to share? All bloggers, authors and artists welcome. Just click the link to see all the details:

And here's another wonderful blog hop all you authors might be interested in. The Trick-or-Treat blog hop is run by the lovely Patricia Lynne and the idea is to give away free books to trick-or-treaters visiting your blog.


  1. I can remember the first vampire story I read, but not the first werewolf. It was probably a Goosebumps story or something like that.

    1. I can't remember the first werewolf story I read either - it may even have been a fairy tale :) I always liked the werewolf in The Monster Squad because he was indestructible - only silver bullets could kill him, even if he was dismembered he came back together.


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