Friday, October 18, 2013

Werewolf Stories

The classic horror stories and archetypes carry rather specific messages. Vampire stories tend to be about the danger of seductive evil. Frankenstein’s monster and reanimation stories are a metaphor for the capacity for evil that lies within mankind; specifically in our struggle to usurp God’s place in creation. Mummies are all about the curse of history and the attempt to hold onto the mistakes we have made in our cultural pasts. Zombies—the relatively new kid on the block—are all about the fragility and flaws of society.

The other classic subgenre, the werewolf stories are about our own brutal, violent tendency towards evil that we continually give into, despite all efforts on our part to resist. It is a curse. Try as we might we are little better—no, in these stories natural man is reduced to exactly no more than vicious animals. The curse in the werewolf story mirrors the curse of sin. Unfortunately, these stories also tend to be the most boring horror. Why that is remains a mystery to me. The topic has huge potential for drama. However, for some reason—cinematically speaking—these stories tend to be more about make-up and effects than actual story.

Whatever the reason, they just don’t work. As a result there are scant numbers of films about werewolves, especially in comparison to the other classic monster stories. A few of the stories worth mentioning are:

“An American Werewolf in London” (1981)

Not a fan. This movie is heralded for its humor and effects, both of which are oversold.

“Dog Soldiers” (2002)

This is supposed to be some sort of Scottish masterpiece. Impressively made, but merely derivative.

“Teen Wolf” (1985)

Not a horror film, but uses the theme effectively to address the issue of adolescence.

“The Curse of the Werewolf” (1960)

Hammer’s spin on the story. As always a solid piece of work.

“Silver Bullet” (1985)

A mess of a movie, but gets automatic bonus points for when it was made. There is something about films from 1984-1989. (Nostalgia factor, I suppose.)

“Werewolf of London” (1935)

The first werewolf film Universal doesn’t really set the classic tropes that they would establish for the genre later in…

“The Wolfman” (1941)

The classic. It is not as good, nor as bad, as you might have guessed. I have yet to check out the Joe Johnston remake. (2010)

“Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Wererabbit” (2005)

Best werewolf, err rabit, film ever.

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