Shifters. Werewolves. Cat People. These are some of many familiar terms within the horror genre that describe a class of monsters that are caught between beast and man. Creatures that have difficulty reconciling their wild sides with their humanity.
Why are were-creatures so popular in stories? What makes them different than other creatures of the night? I'd say it's because they are hot-blooded instead of cold. Their struggle is one of fury and fire. Their plight is one of intense passion and the pull of the wild within. It's about the more primal darkness in the human soul that connects us to the animal kingdom. The need to feed. To hunt. To kill. To fuck. These things are urges that remind us we are no different than animals.
Unlike the other creatures of the night, they are not about the fear of death or being remade into something dead, but more the fear of living too much. The fear of loosing control over ones emotions, passions, and primal urges. The fear of nature gone mad. We are conditioned in Western society to contain our emotions. To only relinquish your "useful" urges in an "appropriate" way. Especially in western society, people are bombarded with conflicting messages about how to deal with feelings.
Of course there is also the conflict between nature vs man. The fear of the natural world can be seen all around us, especially in our modern world. Shifters tend to embody something spiritual in the connection to nature. A lot of legends about shifters show a sort of merging with the animal they shift into, so man and beast are one. This is not the case in horror, where stories of werewolves show us the fear we have of man and beast becoming one. We fear that if we are too close to our animal instincts, we will loose ourselves to the beast within. And in so doing, become monsters.
This is what the plight of the werebeast is about. Some shifter tales have the creature controlling their change, but werebeast tales tend to involve a struggle with the change. I do enjoy a good shifter tale where the shifter can have complete control over their change (because it lends a sense of hope to those of us who relate strongly to werebeasts as our inner monster), but my favorites are those that struggle with their gift-curse. Werebeasts are tales of people who instead of coping with the world by going numb, empty and listless, they have too much emotion. Too much passion. Too much rage. They are too alive in a lot of ways, and were never taught how to ride the wave within them. So instead, the wave rides them, and usually devours them with hungry jaws.
I love all monster stories, because even at a young age I related to the monsters. Different monsters speak to different parts of me. Werewolves were always the most intriguing because of my own struggles with rage issues, gender issues and other such things. Werebeasts are the prefect monster for someone "more human than a human." For someone who sometimes feels out of control within their own body and who BURNS inside with all the overwhelming feelings they don't know how to express.
So, now that I've rambled your ear off, let me present a few of my favorite werebeasts of all time...
Of course, I love me my Ginger from Ginger Snaps. She's a twisted girl to begin with, the turning into a werewolf thing just heightened her darkness. And seriously, that is how I felt about puberty:
Kelley Armstrong's series about werewolves which I highly recommend. She did for werewolves what Anne Rice did for vampires. Her main character is the only female werewolf at the start of the series. It's hawt stuff, and totally worth a good read:
Back to the realm of movies, I present to you the classic An American Werewolf in London. It has one of the best transformation scenes to date:
site all about werewolves! Are werewolves mere fantasy? Or maybe they are reflections of us. Maybe deep down, we all have a little beast in us. Sometimes, they are not as tame as we think they are. Sometimes they break their chains and run free.