Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Day 04: Monster of the Week: The Werebeast

For the Halloween Countdown I have decided I would showcase a different Monster every week to go alongside my other random posts. This weeks pick is none other than The Werebeast.

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:

Puberty is a bitch.
Then there is Canadian writer 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:

Worst hair day EVER.
Cat People is another favourite, even though I totally hate cats. It's just such a good movie, and really captures the struggle woman have with their sexuality:

I think I'd die from my allergies before she'd ever get to kill me.
And then lastly, Dog Soldiers. A very interesting take on werewolves. They didn't skimp on the effects either, and there's plenty of gore and brutality:

If you need more of a werewolf fix, I found this nifty little 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.


  1. I love Cat People. One of my fave were-beast movies. I'll have to check out BITTEN. Thanks for the recs.

  2. I'll be looking forward to your daily post! Bitten seems like it'll be an awesome read.

    An American Werewolf in London is such an awesome movie. Seeing that whole transformation when I was younger used to freak me out. x_x

  3. I think an American Werewolf in London was my first horror movie, the initial attack is especially memorable. The Werewolf genre is long overdue a comeback, maybe they just don't fit as well into modern society?

  4. LOVED Dog Soldiers, loved An American Werewolf in London, but haven't seen Cat People yet. Ah, well, that's what the Interbutts are for. :D

    Another good werewolf movie in recent years is the 2010 remake of The Wolfman. Benicio del Toro's good as the tortured Talbot trying to cling tooth and nail (ha ha) to his humanity.

    But it's Hopkins as the senior Talbot, who's given in to the power of the 'curse' and revels in his separation from the rank & file of humanity... far more compelling to me. He's a monster, knows it and loves it. His predatory grin is even more unsettling than Lecter's lurid gentility, for my money.

    The werecreature works as an object of fear- as you said- because it's a symbol of the unreasoning animal lurking in all of us, just under the surface- nowhere near as deep-down as some would have us believe. It really doesn't take much prompting to get us back to that slathering beast, either- one need look no further than videos of Black Friday sales to see that.

  5. @PhilH: I think they fit perfectly well into modern society. I just think modern society is too scared to look at them closely. I would like to see a proper werewolf revival myself.

    @The other Phil: I did see the new Wolfman remake! It was pretty damn good! I just forgot to add it to the list. Thanks for mentioning it!

    Glad you all are enjoying my posts so far! :D

  6. Hello, you have a great blog. And also your LibraryThing includes books by Neil Gaiman, one of my favorite British writers. I'm thinking you might one to check my blog out: www.artbyarion.blogspot.com


  7. Werewolves are Cian's favorites, I'm so so on them, but I'd love to give bitten a chance.

    Oh and before I forget, you will be on It's on random this Friday for Get to know your bloggers! Enjoy!


Feel free to leave a comment! Everyone loves comments! How will I know you visited without a comment? Just be respectful please.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...