Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Behind the Symbol: The Pentagram as a Sign of the Werewolf


I know that it’s full moon and that I said the next time I would post would be this month’s Werewolf Movie Review, but I simply didn’t finish it in time, for which I am sorry. Instead, while I continue working on the review, I thought I’d post something shorter. I apologise in for posting something that’s already been posted, in a way, on Werewolf Theory, but here’s why I’ve decided to do it: the paragraphs pertaining to the symbolism of the pentagram and how it may be related to werewolves were originally a part of the September 2015 review of 1941’s The Wolf Man. Because they were quite far into the review, and because there is no mention of its inclusion in the review’s title or description (since it came about as a side-effect of my analysis of the movie), not everyone looking for this particular subject would be able to find it. So I decided to make a separate post consisting of those couple paragraphs, expanded by additional examples of the use of pentagrams in relation with werewolves that would not fit into The Wolf Man review for obvious reasons. I guess this post could be treated as a filler by those who’ve already read my analysis and review of the mentioned movie. For those who haven’t, I encourage you to take a look at the complete review to which a link you can find in the menu on the right in the ‘Cinema & TV’ section :) And to those who’ve stumbled onto my humble doorstep looking for an article on pentagrams and werewolves I say: enjoy!

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To many members of the older generation (especially overly concerned parents of teenagers, it seems – and I’m talking from personal experience here), the pentagram is a sign of the devil. However, the whole business is trickier than that, which many people don’t realise. The symbolism of the pentagram in Western culture depends on its orientation. And so, there are two pentagrams: one whose meaning is good, and the other, whose meaning is more sinister.

The one which represents positive qualities is the one where a single point is projecting upwards, so the standard type of a pentagram, which we most commonly see when we hear the word ‘pentagram’. This pentagram is sometimes called the Pythagorean pentagram and in ancient times it was used as a Christian symbol of the five senses or the five wounds of Christ. During the Renaissance period, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa – a 15th/16th century German magician, alchemist, occult writer, theologian, and astrologer – in his 1531 work De occulta philosophia libri tres (Three Books of Occult Philosophy) spread the popularity of the pentagram as an occult symbol. He attributed each of the points to the five Neoplatonic elements and inscribed the human body in a pentagram. In the 19th century, a further distinction appeared concerning the way the pentagram is positioned. The already mentioned Pythagorean pentagram, one with a single point projecting upwards, was a depiction of the spirit presiding over the four elements of matter and was symbolically ‘good’.

Then there is the ‘evil’ pentagram. The 19th century French occult author and ceremonial magician Eliphas Levi called the pentagram ‘evil’ whenever it appeared upside down. In his 1854 work Transcendental Magic, its Doctrine and Ritual (Dogme et ritual de la haute magie), he wrote:

A reversed pentagram, with two points projecting upwards, is a symbol of evil and attracts sinister forces because it overturns the proper order of things and demonstrates the triumph of matter over spirit. It is the goat of lust attacking the heavens with its horns, a sign execrated by initiates.

An overturned pentagram thus became the symbol of the goat of Black Magic, since its head could be inscribed into the symbol. In a later work, Levi also calls this pentagram ‘a sign of antagonism and fatality’. A drawing of a goat’s head inscribed in an overturned pentagram was then included in 1897 in Stanislas de Guaita’s La Clef de la Magia Noire and is known as the ‘Samael/Lilith’ version. Later on, in 1968, a slightly redesigned version of this pentagram, known as the Sigil of Baphomet, became a copyrighted symbol of Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan. But this last thing is just a curiosity, because it doesn’t pertain in any way to our current predicament.
So that is that, as they say. Now that we know a little more about the nature of the pentagram, we can understand a little more about why it could be regarded as a sign of the werewolf. Of particular interest here is Levi’s interpretation that the overturned pentagram symbolises ‘the triumph of matter over spirit’ in contrast to the proper pentagram, which symbolises the dominance of the spirit. The duality of human nature is a constant struggle between the spirit and the body – between what we regard proper and good for the soul (especially in religion) and the often primitive temptations of the body. While the Pythagorean pentagram is a symbol of a human’s will and spirit dominating those primal instincts, the Samael/Lilith pentagram symbolises the opposite. With werewolves, the struggle between humanity and bestiality is magnified tenfold, for obvious reasons. A werewolf’s efforts to dominate the beast within are an omnipresent theme in works concerning lycanthropy. A human physically transforming into a wolf, succumbing to the curse, becomes a symbolic surrender of spirit to matter and the overturning of the natural order of things, just as the pentagram itself is overturned.

Let’s now take a look at the appearances of the pentagram in werewolf cinema. Note that this list will be updated in time, because even I still haven’t seen all werewolf movies (shame!) :( So I apologise for its incompletion. For now, here are three productions that came to my mind in the first place.

The Wolf Man (1941)

In this movie, the pentagram is an important plot point and it is probably the first time it was used in this context. The first time it’s mentioned is when the main character, Larry Talbot, visits an antique shop where he eventually buys his famous silver cane. The shop owner’s daughter tells Larry that the pentagram is considered the symbol of a werewolf, but no further explanation as to why is given. The only reason that the movie provides is that someone who’s a werewolf will see a pentagram in the palm of his next victim’s hand, which is shown later on-screen. The pentagram also features on the tip of Larry’s silver cane, where it is paired with a leaping wolf. Additionally, scars of those bitten by werewolves are said to be star-shaped, as is the case with Bela the Gypsy and, later, Larry himself. A slightly different use of the pentagram is made when Larry is given a pentagram-shaped charm that’s supposed to protect him from evil. This pentagram, however, is the upright one, as if to bring balance to where there is a lack of thereof.

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

In An American Werewolf in London, the pentagram appears roughly at the beginning of the movie when our two main characters visit a pub in a small Welsh village where they end up during their tour of Europe. The pentagram is painted on one of the pub’s walls in red paint, with two candles hanging on each side, and one of the characters makes a reference to The Wolf Man when they say that it’s a sign of the werewolf. However, the pentagram here is drawn upright, which doesn’t comply with my earlier theory. Either the filmmakers didn’t think the issue through as thoroughly as I did or I myself saw meaning where there was none. I do like my theory, though, because it makes some semblance of sense, at least in my head.

Cursed (2005)

Cursed is another movie that makes many references to the original Wolf Man. The pentagram’s use here is similar to the one in the 1941 classic. After a character in the movie contracts lycanthropy, dark spots appear on the palm of their right hand, which, if traced, create a pentagram. This is a similar approach, if with a little twist, to the one in The Wolf Man. In one scene, one of the main characters is reading a book about werewolves and finds an entry that describes how whoever is a werewolf will have the mentioned marks on the palm of one of their hands. Although in the picture presented in the book the pentagram seems to be upright, when the character connects the dots on his own hand using a marker pen, the pentagram is clearly turned upside down.

WolfCop (2014)

In last year’s WolfCop, the main character becomes a victim of a demonic ritual of sacrifice, which ends up making him a werewolf. During said ritual, an overturned pentagram is carved into his chest with a sacrificial knife. He discovers the wound only the next morning when he tries to shave. The pentagram here is referred to as ‘the mark of the beast’.

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And that is all for now, I hope you’ve enjoyed this short article nevertheless. In the meantime, I’m going back to working on 2010’s The Wolfman and I will hopefully see you again very soon. Until then!

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Cinema & TV: The Werewolf Cinematic Timeline, Part II: 1950-1969

Hello and welcome to the second part of the Werewolf Cinematic Timeline! 

First of all, I would like to thank everyone who has visited my blog over the past three years. We have officially broken 140,000 pageviews (almost 141,000 now, actually)! It is quite a milestone, seeing as only recently have I returned to actively posting content, so I am very grateful to each and every one of you guys. You rock! :D

But let's get back to our timeline. Below you will find a list, along with some (mostly) colourful posters and short plot summaries, of werewolf movies and movies that feature werewolves in one way or another that came out between the 1950 and 1969. Compared to the earlier years, we can already notice a significant increase in the number of such productions. Because of the size of this post, I had to back down from my original plan of including movies from 1950 all the way to 1979 and instead stop ten years earlier. So off we go!


The Werewolf

In the remote Californian town of Mountaincrest, a beast is on the loose, killing people. The locals find footprints that suddenly turn into pawprints and decide that any further investigation should be left to the law enforcement. Meanwhile, the protagonist, Duncan Marsh, wakes up naked in a drainage opening, with no recollection of what happened or even what his name is. As it turns out, he is a victim of two mad scientists, who rescued him from a car accident and, taking advantage of his condition, injected him with irradiated wolf blood, which, as a result, turned him into a bloodthirsty werewolf.


El Castillo de los Monstruos 
(The Castle of the Monsters)

A Mexican horror comedy directed by Julian Soler. El Clavilazzo – a Mexican funnyman – falls in love with a seamstress by the name of Beatriz. When Beatriz is kidnapped by a mad scientist that has been producing monsters based on the classic Universal Studios monsters in his nearby castle, our protagonist has no choice but to rescue her. Along with friends, he finds his way into the castle and in one way or another does away with all the monsters, including a werewolf, a mummy, a vampire, a Frankenstein’s monster-wannabe, and a fish-man similar to the Creature from the Black Lagoon. He manages to save his beloved, while the mad scientist meets his end at the hands of his hunchback assistant after the latter turns on him.

I Was a Teenage Werewolf

Tony (Michael Landon) is a distressed teenager who basically has anger management issues. Every so often, he gets into fights with his colleagues, which causes him a lot of problems at school. After one such fight, Tony attracts the unwanted attention of the local police department. The officer in charge breaks up the fight and advises Tony that he seek help of a local psychologist. Said psychologist, Dr. Brandon, specialises in hypnotherapy. When Tony decides to visit him, Brandon agrees to treat him, but he has an agenda of his own. Wanting to advance his scientific career, Brandon injects Tony with a serum and convinces him that he’s a werewolf. As a result, Tony undergoes not only a mental, but also a physical change at certain times (e.g. he transforms at the sound of a ringing bell), which makes him start killing locals. Realising what he’s become, Tony seeks help to get out of this new predicament.


How to Make a Monster

Yet another cross-over featuring a wolf-man and Frankenstein’s monster, although a bit differently than before. Pete Dumond, our protagonist and chief villain, is a make-up artist that has worked on horror movies for the last twenty-five years of his life. When the studio he’s been working for is bought by a company that wants to make musicals and comedies instead of horror movies, Pete loses his job (and, arguably, his sanity). He vows to take vengeance on the new owners by using the monsters of his own creation as tools. To this end, he blackmails and hypnotises two actors so that they think they actually are the characters they’re playing (Teenage Werewolf and Teenage Frankenstein). In full werewolf and Frankenstein’s monster’s make-up, the two become Pete’s tools of destruction. No genuine werewolf here, it would seem, but I thought this movie was worth mentioning nevertheless.


La Casa del Terror
(House of Terror)

Another Mexican horror comedy. These seem to have been quite popular at the time, didn’t they? A night watchman at a wax museum of horrors is being experimented on by his boss, the Professor – while he sleeps on the job, the Professor takes some of his blood and uses it in his experiments that are meant to bring back the dead to life. To cover his misdeeds, the Professor covers all his failed experiments in wax and places them on display in the museum. When he hears about a mummified body discovered in an Egyptian sarcophagus, he decides to steal it with the help of his two henchmen. Back at his lab, by utilising lightning in the traditional Frankenstein manner, he finally succeeds in bringing the corpse back to life. However, when the full moon rises in the sky, the reanimated dead man transforms into a werewolf, escapes the laboratory and goes on a rampage through the city.


The Curse of the Werewolf

Based on the novel The Werewolf of Paris by Guy Endore. Set in 18th century Spain, the movie starts with a beggar becoming imprisoned by a cruel marques for uttering inappropriate remarks at his wedding. The beggar spends the next fifteen years in prison, tended to only by the jailer and his beautiful daughter. In time, the marques sets his sights on the jailer’s daughter, but when she rejects him, he has her thrown into the same cell as the beggar. The beggar, who’s lost his sanity due to years of imprisonment, rapes her, which results in her becoming pregnant. Given the opportunity, the girl escapes, kills the marques and hides in the forest. There, she is found by a man and his housekeeper who nurse her back to health, but she dies eventually anyway after giving birth to a son on Christmas Day (a bad omen that in some folklore meant the child will become a werewolf). Indeed, thirteen years later, the boy undergoes a transformation and starts killing people, the only thing that can supposedly prevent this change being the presence of the girl he’s fallen in love with. Unable to marry her and imprisoned on suspicion of murder, the boy changes into a werewolf and goes on a killing spree until he is killed by a silver bullet shot by his step-father.

Frankenstein, el Vampiro y Cia 
(Frankenstein, the Vampire, and Company)

A Mexican remake of Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein from 1948 (discussed in Part I of our Timeline). The plot is practically identical to the original Universal Studios production, so there is not much for me to say here.


(Werewolf in a Girls' Dormitory)

An Italian take on the subject of werewolves. A creature resembling a wolf-man starts killing young women at a school for girls. The newly-hired science teacher becomes the prime suspect of being a werewolf.


Face of the Screaming Werewolf

Dr. Cowan Redding is a psychologist specialising in hypnotic regression. During one such session, he discovers that one of his patients is a reincarnation of an Aztec woman. Thanks to what he can uncover from her memories, the doctor is able to lead a team of archaeologists into a hidden chamber of the Great Pyramid of Yucatan. Instead of expected Aztec treasure, inside they find two mummified bodies, one of which (somehow) appears to still be alive. Once the two bodies are transported back to the city, however, Dr. Redding is killed by a rival scientist who steals one of the recovered mummies. He manages to resurrect it, only to find out that it’s a werewolf. The creature breaks free from the lab, while at the same time the other mummy (the live one) escapes from where it was being held. The two mummies face off against each other in the streets of the city. What is worth noting is that the werewolf mummy was played by Lon Chaney, Jr. (through the use of footage from 1960’s La Casa del Terror), this being his last film role as a werewolf.


La Loba 
(The She-Wolf / Los Horrores del Bosque Negro)

A beautiful young Mexican woman from a rich family suffers from a curse that makes her transform into a wolf every night. She starts seeing a doctor, hoping that he can help her lift the curse. When it turns out that he is also a werewolf like her, the two fall in love with each other and from now on murder people by night together. Their killing spree eventually comes to an end when become the prey of a hunting dog trained specifically to kill werewolves.

Dr Terror's House of Horrors

Starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, this film tells the story of five men who board a train carriage from London to Bradley. They are joined by a sixth man, a mysterious Dr. Schreck (whose name in German translates to ‘terror’, hence the first part of the movie’s title) who offers to tell his companions their fortunes using his deck of Tarot cards, which he calls the ‘House of Horrors’. Each time he draws a card, he tells one of the five men a story about the fate that lies ahead of them. One of those is a story about a werewolf that one of the travellers will come across in the future.

Orgy of the Dead

An erotic horror directed by Ed Wood on the basis of his own novel. A young couple is looking for a cemetery at night, hoping that the setting will bring inspiration to one of them who is a horror screenwriter. They have a car accident, but nevertheless eventually manage to find the cemetery, where they witness a scene that can be best described as danse macabre – the so-called Emperor, a powerful demon (perhaps Death itself?), summons the souls of the damned to dance for him. Among his lackeys are a werewolf and a mummy, who discover and capture the couple. The demons argue about what they should do with them and in the end the couple is saved by the first rays of sunlight of the dawning day. Subsequently, they wake up at the scene of their car accident, which suggests that everything that happened was just a dream.


Mad Monster Party

Staring Boris Karloff, famous for his portrayal of Frankenstein’s monster in 1931’s Frankenstein,  as Baron Boris von Frankenstein (we see what you did there, movie), this production is a stop motion animated comedy featuring numerous classic Universal Studios monsters and more. Karloff’s character orders his assistant, Francesca, to send out invitations to all known monsters for a party he will be hosting on his Isle of Evil. Once they’ve all arrived, Baron Boris announces his plans to retire as the head of the ‘Worldwide Organization of Monsters’ and names his nephew, Felix, as his successor, much to Francesca’s dismay. He also reveals that he’s developed a secret formula for total destruction. The monsters decide to get rid of Boris’s successor and steal the formula for themselves, but are prevented from doing so by the arrival of one monster that’s not been invited - a King-Kong-like giant gorilla. While the gorilla wreaks havoc on the island, Felix and Francesca escape by boat, while the Baron, furious with the monsters for wanting to kill his nephew and steal the formula, drops the vial with the destructive compound and annihilates the island along with himself and all the monsters on it.

Dr Terror's Gallery of Horrors
(Return From the Past)

Just like Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors from 1962, this low-budget movie is an anthology film, meaning that instead of having one plot-line, it tells several shorter stories in succession. Due to the uncanny similarity of its title to the 1962 production, it has been released under many different names over the years. John Carradine plays the Narrator who tells five horror stories, each with a humorous twist ending. The last one, ‘Count Alucard’, is a variation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and possesses a twist ending in which it turns out that Jonathan Harker is a werewolf.


La Marca del Hombre Lobo 
(Mark of the Wolfman / Frankenstein's Bloody Terror)

Thanks to his role as Count Waldemar Daninsky – a werewolf – in this movie and its many sequels over the next thirty-odd years, Paul Naschy gained fame in the film industry as Spain’s Lon Chaney, Jr. The movie opens up with a drunken Gypsy couple who decide to spend the night at the abandoned Wolfstein castle. While there, they discover the tomb of its owner, Imre Wolfstein. When they remove the silver cross that was buried with him, the man – who turns out to be a werewolf – rises from the dead, kills the couple, and proceeds to go on a rampage through the nearby village. Blaming ordinary wolves for the attack, the villagers organise a hunting party to track down the animals. During the hunt, one of the members of the party, Count Waldemar Daninsky, is attacked by the werewolf Imre and becomes afflicted with werewolfism. Once he transforms, he starts killing people. Realising this, he seeks help from a pair of doctors, who eventually turn out to be vampires. Instead of helping Daninsky, the two nosferatu resurrect Imre Wolfstein and pit the two werewolves against each other. Daninsky manages to defeat Wolfstein, kills the vampires, but in the end is shot dead by a woman who loves him.

Las Noches del Hombre Lobo 
(Nights of the Werewolf / Nights of the Wolfman)

(poster unavailable)

Widely regarded as the second film starring Paul Naschy as the famous Count Waldemar Daninsky, it is a cinematic mystery of its own. The reason for this is that it is uncertain whether or not the script for this movie was at all filmed, since it was never theatrically released nor was it ever released on video. The only person who maintained that it was actually filmed was Paul Naschy himself. It is possible that he made the movie up to boost his popularity. The little that we know of the supposed plot is that Count Daninsky was supposed to become a guinea pig for a mad scientist who learns how to manipulate him using sound waves and uses him to achieve his personal goals (namely, revenge, as usual). Some people suggest that, owing to the great similarity of the storylines, this film somehow became the later Fury of the Wolf Man, but it is all just speculation. Adding to the confusion, another film of Naschy’s, El Retorno del Hombre Lobo, was released on DVD under the title Night of the Werewolf, but of course the two have nothing to do with each other whatsoever.


Blood of Dracula's Castle

A photographer inherits an old castle from his late uncle. However, it turns out that the castle has been rented for over half a century by an old couple who look surprisingly young for their age – Count Townsend and his wife. It is then revealed that Count Townsend is, in fact, Count Dracula and that he and his wife use the castle as their hideout, to which they lure young girls who they then drain of blood for sustenance. In time, they are joined by their old acquaintance, Johnny, who has broken out of prison. The thing about Johnny, though, is that during the full moon, he goes berserk and turns into a werewolf-like monster. When the photographer and his fiancée visit the castle, the vampires and their lackeys devise a plan to do away with them in order to keep both the castle and their secret to themselves.

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And that's another seventeen movies listed! I have to say, it took me longer than expected to finish this part, as I've been a little busy in real life. Still, please stay tuned for Part III, which will present movies from 1970 to 1989 (at least, like always, that is the plan). And there is quite a lot of them during that period, so it might take me a while to compile all the descriptions ;) I might actually cut the list for the next part to just ten years, because otherwise the post will most likely stretch all the way down to the South Pole. As a comparison, the above included 17 movies. The number of productions that were made between 1970 and 1980 alone equals 29 (give or take). Between 1980 and 1990, we are looking at around 38 productions, so the post would have to contain 58 entries. Yeah, now that I've given it some thought and did some simple math, I think making Part III include movies between 1970 and 1980 the better option.

Anyway, the next time I post something it will probably be full moon, so it will be time for this month's Werewolf Movie Review. As promised, this time we take a look at the remake of The Wolf Man from 1941, which was featured as last month's review. That said, I will see you again soon!

Friday, 16 October 2015

Cinema & TV: The Werewolf Cinematic Timeline, Part I: 1913-1949

Hello werewolf fans!

A long, long time ago (twelve years ago to be exact), there was a website about werewolves that had a huge list of werewolf movies from the very beginning to what was then the present. From what I know, the website hasn’t been around for a long time, since it disappeared from the waves of the Internet ocean still during the time when I was writing posts on my first blog as a teenager. And so, with Werewolf Theory reborn, I decided to scrape up what I had once saved from the mentioned website, revise it with my own knowledge of werewolf cinema and make a giant list of my own for all those interested to see. Because of its size, I’ve decided that it will be a good thing to split it into parts. The first part, which is this post, will cover productions from the year 1913 up to and including year 1949. The subsequent parts have their time-span yet to be determined, depending on the size of each post. The lists will mostly feature werewolf movies, but in some cases they will also list productions that are not strictly werewolf-themed, but in which werewolves have appeared for longer than just a cameo. For those I have the Werewolf Cameos series of posts. Anyway, I hope you find this list of mine informative. Enjoy!


The Werewolf

Regarded as the first ever made werewolf movie and the earliest of Universal Pictures monster movies, this silent film short tells the story of an Indian woman who becomes a witch and passes her knowledge of witchcraft to her daughter. The girl transforms into a wolf and carries out vengeance against white American settlers. The film is considered lost since it was supposedly destroyed in a fire at Universal Studios in 1942.


Le Loup-Garou

A French silent film whose premise revolves around a priest who is murdered and curses his killer so that he transforms into a wolf. The werewolf begs God for forgiveness for what he has done, but instead of the curse being lifted from him, he is struck and, as a result, killed by lightning.


Wolf Blood
(Wolfblood: A Tale of the Forest)

A silent film starring, and directed by, George Chasebro. It tells the story of Dick Bannister, who becomes the new field boss of the Canadian Ford Logging Company. At the time, the company is waging a private war with a rival logging company. When the conflict turns bloody, Dick is wounded and loses so much blood that he requires a transfusion. Since no human wants to volunteer, Dick is given the blood of a wolf. Medical probabilities aside, soon afterwards Dick starts having dreams of running with a pack of wolves, while the rival loggers begin dying to wolf attacks. Subsequently, his fellow lumberjacks come to the conclusion that Dick is a werewolf.


Le Loup Garou 

The first sound film to feature a werewolf. Directed by Friedrich Feher and based on Alfred Machard’s novel Der Schwarze Mann, the movie has been lost to time. 


Werewolf of London

The first mainstream Hollywood werewolf movie by Universal Studios. Wilfred Glendon (Henry Hull), a renowned English botanist, travels to Tibet in search of a rare mariphasa plant. While there, he is bitten by a werewolf and starts to transform himself during the next full moon. It turns out that the mariphasa plant can be made into a temporary antidote for lycanthropy, but when the flower does not bloom, Glendon goes on a killing spree through the streets of London. He tries to isolate himself from other people, but the beast within seems to always find a way to escape its confinement.

The Wolf Man

The first of many movies featuring Lon Chaney, Jr. as the Wolf Man. Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.) returns from the USA to his hometown after the unexpected death of his brother and reunites with his father. One night, as he fends off an attack by what he thinks is a wolf, he is bitten by the animal that turns out to have been a werewolf. Soon, Larry starts changing into a wolf-man and prowls the nearby woods in search of his next victim.
My analysis & review of the movie: [here]


The Undying Monster 
(The Hammond Mystery)

The Hammond family has been cursed with lycanthropy since the times of the Holy Crusades, but the only thing the public knows is that its members have been dying under mysterious circumstances or committing suicide. When two people are attacked by an unknown creature, Robert Curtis (James Ellison) and his partner Christy (Heather Thatcher) are sent to investigate the crimes and find a rational explanation for what the locals believe to be a result of the Hammonds’ family curse. When the monster kidnaps a woman, the police chase it down and shoot it, revealing that the creature responsible for the attacks was a werewolf member of the Hammond family.

The Mad Monster

Dr. Lorenzo Cameron is a mad scientist seeks revenge on his peers by developing a serum made from a wolf’s blood that turns his gardener (and test subject) into a bloodthirsty wolf-man. He then uses the wolf-man to kill the fellow scientists that ridiculed his beliefs and made him lose his job at a university. A newspaper reporter begins to investigate the killings and he begins to suspect the scientist of being the culprit. In the end, the wolf-man turns on his master and kills him, while the laboratory burns down, burying all the evidence of what has really happened.


Le Loup des Malveneur

A French film directed by Guillame Radot. Similarly to the family from The Undying Monster, a curse hangs upon the Malveneur family – its first-born male members are doomed to transform into wolves by night. Once a family of hunters, they are now the hunted monsters. The last member of the family, who happens to be a scientist, conducts mysterious experiments in order to find a cure and revive his ancestors. Once people start disappearing, a detective is sent to investigate. The movie incorporates themes from both Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man

The sequel to 1941’s The Wolf Man. On the night of a full moon, graverobbers break into the Talbot family crypt, where Larry Talbot was laid to rest after the events of The Wolf Man. When they remove the wolfsbane that was buried with him, the full moon’s light revives Larry, to the horror of the graverobbers. He escapes and travels to the remains of Dr. Frankenstein’s castle, where he hopes to either find a way to cure himself of lycanthropy or permanently end his life. It is there that he comes across Frankenstein’s monster.


The Return of the Vampire

An unofficial continuation of Bela Lugosi’s version of Dracula from 1931, where Lugosi plays Count Dracula in all but name. Generally speaking, this is a vampire movie, so I’m not going to write a summary of it. The reason why it’s on this list is the fact that the titular vampire’s servant is a werewolf, whose lycanthropy is somehow bound to his master’s existence, for when the vampire is killed with a stake, the werewolf returns to his human form. After the vampire is revived, however, he becomes a werewolf again and once more serves his master.

The Three Stooges: Idle Roomers

A short film featuring the American slapstick comedy team, the Three Stooges. In it, the trio work as bellboys at a hotel where they are trying to win the affection of an attractive female guest. It turns out that the woman’s husband has somehow smuggled a wolf-man into the hotel. Lupe the Wolf Man, for that’s his name, goes berserk whenever he hears music, so when one of the bellboys turns on the radio while cleaning his room, all hell breaks loose.

House of Frankenstein

Another movie with Lon Chaney, Jr. in the role of the Wolf Man, this movie continues the story from 1943’s Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. Dr. Gustav Niemann (played by Boris Karloff) seeks revenge on Burgermeister Hussman, who once caused his imprisonment. He visits the flooded ruins of Frankenstein’s castle and finds Frankenstein’s monster and the Wolf Man frozen in the water. He thaws the two of them out and promises to help Larry Talbot find a cure for his lycanthropy. He is not one to keep his promises, however, and Larry transforms into a wolf-man and starts killing people. Eventually, Larry is shot with a silver bullet by a Gypsy girl who has fallen in love with him.

Cry of the Werewolf

Based on a story by Griffin Jay, the movie tells of a Romani princess supposedly descended from Marie La Tour, an 18th century French noblewoman. She has the ability to transform into a wolf - a trait she inherited from her mother. When she learns that the location of Marie La Tour’s tomb has been discovered, she decides to kill everyone privy to this information, because it is considered a sacred place whose whereabouts are to be known only to her family.


House of Dracula

Yet another Universal Studios production that puts Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, and the Wolf Man together on one screen. Once again, this movie continues the story of its predecessor, House of Frankenstein from a year before. Count Dracula (John Carradine) comes to the fictional town of Visaria to meet with Dr. Edelmann, saying that he is looking for a cure for vampirism. At the same time, Larry Talbot arrives at the castle (wait, didn’t he get shot in the previous film?) and wants Edelmann to develop a cure for his werewolfism. The doctor claims that Talbot’s transformations may be caused by pressure in his brain - and not by moonlight - and undertakes the task of curing him. Eventually, he succeeds in curing Larry of werewolfism by relieving the pressure in his skull (yeah right), but while trying to cure Dracula, he becomes a vampire himself.


She-Wolf of London 
(Curse of the Allenbys)

Phyllis Allenby is a content noblewoman who is about to be married to an aristocratic lawyer. She lives in her family’s manor in London with her aunt, cousin, and a servant. Suddenly, people start being killed at the local park, their throats ripped by what seems to be a wild animal. Rumours about werewolf attacks spread through the city and some people claim to have seen a “she-wolf” emerge from the Allenby manor and head for the park. At the same time, Phyllis wakes up with blood on her hands, unable to remember what happened the previous night. She starts believing that she is the female werewolf responsible for the murders, affected by the legendary curse of the Allenby family.


Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein

Abbot and Costello were the most popular American comedy duo in the 1940s and early 1950s. This movie was the first of a number of productions in which the two comedians come across classic Universal Studios monsters. Here, Abbot and Costello play two baggage clerks, Chick and Wilbur, respectively. They are contacted by Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.) – who, for some reason, is once again a werewolf (so much for that brain pressure relieving therapy, I guess) – who tries to warn them that a shipment they’re handling is dangerous because it contains the bodies of Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi) and Frankenstein’s monster (Glenn Strange) en route to McDougal House of Horrors. As we can expect, Dracula awakes upon arrival and devises a plot to revive Frankenstein's monster and replace its brain with that of Wilbur’s. Together with Larry Talbot, the two comedians have to act to stop Dracula’s plans.

And that would be it for Part I of the Werewolf Cinematic Timeline. Phew, I have to say it took me a while to get all these short summaries together. I actually had to cut the post earlier than planned, because it was getting too long. Stay tuned for Part II, which will list productions from 1950 up to and including 1979 (at least that’s the plan), where their numbers begin to visibly increase. See you next time!

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Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Werewolf Cameos, Part I

Hello, hello and welcome!

This time I decided to write a slightly different post, not concentrating on a single piece of work, but featuring a few at a time. The reason for this is simple – sometimes werewolves appear in movies and video games for a moment as cameos to accentuate a point that the movie/video game is making. These appearances are hence too brief to be given separate articles. That is why I decided to start a series (hopefully) of posts with a few such werewolf cameos at once, so that the post itself isn’t the length of a tweet ;) That said, I hope you enjoy this mini-series that will be popping out every now and then as soon as I gather enough examples to include. The order in which I list these is completely random, by the way. And I think that posting them in threes will be just about right for now. Might be more, depending on the amount of material. As always - enjoy!

Despicable Me (2010)

A werewolf is briefly shown in 2010’s animated movie Despicable Me when the main character, Gru, succeeds in shrinking the moon in order to steal it. The werewolf is shown howling at the moon, but once the moon is shrunk and disappears from the sky, he quickly transforms back into a human, confused at what has happened.

The Last of Us (2013)

At the very start of the game, we control a young girl and navigate through her home as we witness the beginning of the fungal zombie apocalypse. If we inspect the interior of her room, on the wall next to the bed we will find a fictional werewolf movie poster. The movie is called “Dawn of the Wolf” and there are mentions of it later on in the game. It is referenced in a conversation between the two main characters, Ellie and Joel. Subsequently, if you inspect the walls of the hotel the main characters find themselves passing through or look at some poster frames out on the streets, there are also posters for "Dawn of the Wolf, Part II". Additionally, Joel describes it as a “dumb teen movie”, which, all in all, strongly suggests that the whole idea is Naughty Dog’s way of parodying Dawn of the Dead (because of the title) and the Twilight saga (because of its being a multi-part teenage movie hit featuring a woman in love with a supernatural being, in this case a werewolf).

But that's not all. Yet another werewolf cameo occurs in the DLC pack, "Left Behind", where Ellie and her friend visit a store which sells Halloween merchandise. On one of the shelves they find masks and the one Ellie puts on is based on the werewolf from An American Werewolf in London.

Big Bad Beetleborgs (1996-1998)

Ah yes, now this takes me back to my puppy days. In this American live-action television series, three kids obtain the power to transform into their favourite comic book heroes after they accidentally release a phantasm named Flubber during their visit at the supposedly haunted Hillhurst Mansion. It is then revealed that Hillhurst Mansion is home to a group of (classic Universal Studios) monsters that the children befriend (more or less, since the monsters still want to eat them, but are always outsmarted by them). One of these monsters is Wolfgang “Wolfie” Smith – a werewolf who acts more like a pet dog and is treated as such by the other residents of the mansion. He speaks in yelps, growls and barks, similarly to Scooby Doo, and can be understood only by another monster, Count Fangula, who acts as his translator.

And that is it for the first part of the Werewolf Cameos series. More will come in the future, of course. For now, I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and I will see you again soon!

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