Famous Female Werewolves?

Artsy has an article up today that asks an important question of the horror genre – where are all the great female werewolves? Think about it. It’s not that there are no female werewolves depicted in books, film, or television, but for whatever reason it seems like they never become anywhere near as famous or iconic as their male counterparts and there are far fewer of them.

Where are all the great female werewolves? Other than the occasional few over the years, there is a marked dearth of them represented in literature and film. When envisioning famous male werewolves, there’s certainly no lack. We can point to young Bertrand Caillet from the famous 1933 horror novel The Werewolf of Paris by Guy Endore; Scott Howard from the 1985 movie Teen Wolf; Remus Lupin of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter-verse; Wilfred Glendon of the 1935 film Werewolf of London; Lawrence “Larry” Talbot of the 1941 film The Wolf Man; and Jacob Black, the hunky teen werewolf from Stephenie Meyer’s 2005–08 Twilight books (and subsequent films).

There is a certain irony here, because many of the first werewolves to be outed in society from the 16th through the 18th centuries were actually women. Just as our American ancestors had their Salem Witch Trials, Europe had its Werewolf Trials, and a large number of the so-called “werewolves” tortured and burned at the stake were female.

Still, many of the tales that have trickled down from this period of history to the present day focus on celebrated male werewolves who ravaged villages, the most famous of whom may be the German farmer Peter Stumpp (sometimes written as Stubbe or Stumpf). That gentleman made a dastardly deal with Satan himself in order to become a werewolf, murdering and consuming the flesh of good Christian villagers, even his own kin. He was tortured ruthlessly, and his mistress and daughter were flayed alive and killed alongside him.

We remember Stumpp, yet so many of his female peers are long forgotten. In the 17th-century werewolf trials of Estonia, women were about 150 percent more likely to be accused of lycanthropy; however, they were about 100 percent less likely to be remembered for it.

The article offers a long, detailed analysis that pretty comes to the conclusion that female werewolves don’t get traction because the idea of a woman as a huge, hairy beast isn’t very sexy to most people. That’s probably part of it. Also, just as vampire stories are metaphors for dangerous sexuality, werewolf stories are metaphors for dangerous anger – and the idea of a dangerous, angry woman has cut across the grain of popular culture until relatively recently. Then again, with the massive success of films like Quantin Tarantino’s Kill Bill – essentially an homage to the entire concept – it may be that the female werewolf’s time has come at last.

As far as what more can be done about it, we here at Moonfire would love to take a look at a story with a strong female werewolf protagonist. If you have one of those, go ahead and submit it. We’re happy to do our part to promote monster equality!

Midnight, Texas

Fans of the popular HBO vampire series True Blood will be thrilled that Charlaine Harris’ work has returned to television. The new NBC series Midnight, Texas is based on a series of books by Harris, just like True Blood was. And according to this article from Inverse, the similarities don’t end there.

Sure, it had delightfully absurd moments like vampires attending a Ted Cruz rally, or memorable lines like Pam’s “I’m so over Sookie and her precious fairy vagina and her unbelievably stupid name.” But beneath all the sex and blood and dramatic heart-ripping, True Blood was surprisingly earnest. It was a story set in a southern small town filled with a colorful mixture of humans, vampires, werewolves, and fairies. In one scene, vampire Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard) hammed it up in a magic vampire sex dream; in the next he had a serious sad moment with his vampire-dad Godric. And at no point did the show attempt any tonal distinction between these two scenes.

This grey area of camp and seriousness enabled True Blood to balance on the fence. It was a soap opera that gestured towards being a prestige drama. Because Midnight, Texas is not a premium cable show, it has significantly less sex, blood-geysers, and references to fairy vaginas. But it skirts the same odd line of the absurd and the earnest. Scenes that could easily be supernatural punchlines — a man sprouting giant feathery wings and suddenly taking flight; protagonist Manfred fighting with ghosts — are played straight.

Like True Blood, it’s set in supernatural small town America, and features a colorful cast of vampires, angels, psychics, and witches. The Sookie stand-in is Manfred (François Arnaud) a guy with an equally “stupid name,” as True Blood’s Pam would say. He’s psychic instead of telepathic but just like Sookie, his powers make him a constant outsider. And like *True Blood’s setting of Bon Temps, Louisiana, Midnight, Texas is supposedly a sleepy, dusty little town that — shockingly — isn’t as sleepy as it seems. It remains to be seen whether a show like this needs sex and blood spatter or if it can thrive on network TV, too. But for now, if you still miss True Blood, Midnight, Texas is a diluted mixture of the same ingredients.

So vampire fans, werewolf fans, fairy fans, and psychic fans should all enjoy the series. With such an extensive collection of supernatural creatures, there’s bound to be something for everyone. Oh, except maybe zombies – but we’ll have to see where the program goes. I wouldn’t be remotely surprised if they show up too at some point. Midnight, Texas premiered on July 24th and airs Monday nights on NBC.

Hitler’s Monsters

I suppose it makes sense that one of the biggest metaphoric monsters in all of history would have had an affinity for literal ones. Hitler’s Monsters, a new book by Eric Kurlander, explores how the Nazi party exploited popular belief in monsters and the occult to sustain its political movement. Vice has an interview with Kurlander up in which he discusses how Hitler and the Nazis employed fantastic tales of vampires and werewolves to create a sort of mythic underpinning for their ideology and policies.

Kurlander quotes pro-Nazi writer Gottfried Benn, who observed, “There tended to be a regression in intellectual advances while those grasping for power… reached backwards in search of mythical continuity.” In Nazi Germany, this meant werewolves, a preference for magic over science, and the influential Thule Society, which traced the Aryan race back to a lost continent, or what Kurlander collectively refers to as “the supernatural imaginary.”

Hitler’s Monsters, which will be published on July 18 by Yale University Press, is the story of a romantic movement—the populist völkisch movement—gone terribly awry, as paramilitary groups coopted magic and religion and effectively banished reality, instead embracing “fantasies of racial faith” like Hanns Hörbiger’s World Ice Theory, which postulated that huge blocks of celestial ice were at the root of all natural science and explained human history. Kurlander also records the attempts of leaders like Reinhard Heinrich to expel occultists from the Party, which proved impossible given that the science-averse Nazi religion depended on superstition to justify itself.

Far from the Hollywood depiction of Nazi sorcerers (Indiana Jones, Wolfenstein 3D, Marvel’s Hydra) or Britain’s harmless-by-comparison Golden Dawn, Nazi magic and mysticism was something far more insidious: an ideology immune to logical contradiction and capable of shaping a faith-based populism rooted in the idea of a common myth and a shared destiny. When I recently spoke to Kurlander over the phone, it became clear that his project was not an idle arcane history of the kind that fills occult bookstores, but a prescient document of how a nation in crisis could come to prefer its own myth over reality, and reap the consequences.

Back in 2016, Augoeides posted an article discussing challenges to the notion that the Nazi regime was literally powered by dark magick. Kurlander’s hypothesis seems to be more on the mark. Whether or not the Nazi leaders really believed in the occult and magical forces, they skillfully made use of popular beliefs in such things as part of their propaganda methods. That may explain why the few Nazis who did believe in such things had trouble being taken seriously above and beyond their ideas being used to promote the party and its agenda. The book sounds like a fascinating treatment of an area of history that is often sensationalized.

The Craigslist Werewolf

Now this is a weird one. This story was posted four days ago on Craigslist in Denver. It’s plenty creepy, and if you’re a werewolf or paranormal fan you should check it out before it gets taken down. Some excerpts:

The silence was broken when a bizarre incident unraveled this past year. Last August, i was startled by someone trying to kick the front door down in the middle of the day. i could hear them angrily talking on the other side. They pounded on the door repeatedly. They tried their keys in the locks, the doorknob rattled every which way, and they continued trying to force their way in. By no means was it a typical “break-in”, or burglary. It was an insistent, demanding attempt to reach someone.

i didn’t know if it was police at the wrong house, or a family member upset or panicked about something. My heart raced, and my thoughts were a blur. i grabbed a steel pipe from a barbell, and as i looked down at the front room window, i caught a glimpse of my old friend tearing off the screen, and violently sliding it open. He didn’t get very far, it abruptly stopped after a few inches. We kept bars in the window tracks for the very purpose of intruders. (although we never needed them until this day)

Suddenly, my nerves disappeared. It was weird, i almost felt like my sibling was trying to break in. He was like some neighbor kid who was at the house all the time, or parents would just let come over whenever they wanted. Really not so scary, however i was still on edge from the altercation. His energy was spent, and he decided against getting in. He calmed himself, then started talking to what he assumed was me on the other side.

He hadn’t seen me, and i remained quiet. i silently made my way down the stairs. i wasn’t going to open the door, but awaited his next attempt. i tried not to listen to what he said, as not to be coerced. A still moment came, and in a very calm voice, i remember him saying, “I just come by because I miss you guys…” i remained silent. He again paused, then said, “You know what? …HAVE A NICE FUCKIN’ LIFE, BUDDY!!”

In and of itself, kind of ordinary. But here’s where it gets really strange.

i learned an attacker in a trench coat, shirtless, clutching a butcher knife, and smiling from ear-to-ear, tried to claim the lives of several innocent families on the 4th of July in the neighborhood that mirrored mine. i will refer to him only as, “Ravenous”. A family spotted him at the front door of what turned out to be an old high school classmate’s home. (It was later revealed that he had moved away, and no longer lived there. Although his reason for being there that night remains unclear) He was violently banging on the door, and trying to get in the residence.

Families across the street took notice of the commotion. Agitated, he turned his attention to them. He slowly approached them, and someone concerned asked if he was ok. He didn’t say a word, he only smiled. He raised the knife, and kept coming toward them. Everyone panicked, and parents desperately struggled to move their families inside. He then sped up, chasing after them. Children started crying, and everyone was screaming as they tried to get inside. The other neighbors witnessed what was happening, and someone up the street started yelling, warning the other families outside that an attacker had a knife, and was trying to break into houses.

An eerie moment of stillness came, and the chaos outside retreated after residents had all taken shelter from the mysterious attacker. Alone now, Ravenous began calmly walking up the road in the direction of his old place. A few minutes later, police caught up to him. He ignored all verbal commands as they held him at gunpoint, only responding by turning around, and smiling. He began reaching into his coat, and they had no choice but to use force. The officers deployed tasers, which he literally “brushed off”. Several more officers arrived at the scene, and again, he ignored all commands given by them.

They attempted several take-down tactics including strikes with batons, which also had no effect. Police were stunned that the assailant was unaffected by physical force, and a struggle ensued. By now a crowd had gathered, there were police from 2 different counties on the scene. Dozens of residents came out, and witnessed the attacker violently wrestling around with police, screaming, and refusing to surrender. The horrendous scene came to an end in a driveway up the street from the initial attack. Officers tackled him into the side of a parked car, and he was finally subdued.

So more like the kind of thing you hear in an urban legend. Maybe paranormal, maybe drugs or something like that. But here’s the kicker:

After months of legal deliberation, the courts ultimately decided he was unfit to face punishment for all the damages done, and was given a chance at rehabilitation instead. i listened to those innocent families speak out about how their lives were ruined by that one hideous night. He was released from supervision, and victims sat in the courtroom appalled that this beast was being set free for the second time. Recently, he posted online about the Supermoon. He alluded to transformation, flirting with the romanticism of Lycanthropy.

It left me with a sick feeling, and then something clicked. i realized he became that awful thing i quietly dreamed up a long time ago. Years away from that mysterious night, “Ravenous” was released; the monster within. In no way was it a prophecy. But looking back, it’s become an unsettling dream that still haunts me. Today, the town lives in fear from that bizarre, unexplained night. And the sleeping city faces the sinister threat of that monster being released into the night once again.

Is this just a story, or did it really happen? Was “Ravenous” a werewolf, or just a man who by his sheer ferocity convinced the people around him that he was something more than human? Some drugs do that. Some people can perform unbelievable feats of strength when hopped up on adrenaline. And some people can become so manic that they literally lash around like animals.

But it also is true that perhaps the legend of the werewolf was built on a kernal of truth – maybe a kernal just like this one. Enjoy!

Universal’s Dark Universe

Monster fans rejoice! Following the recent remake of The Mummy, Universal Pictures has plans to release remakes of its most famous classic horror films. They will be released over the next few years, and will include The Bride of Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Wolf Man among others.

We already know about The Bride of Frankenstein being next at bat on February 14, 2019 with Beauty and the Beast’s Bill Condon directing from a screenplay by Jurassic Park’s David Koepp. Angelina Jolie and Javier Bardem are expected to star. And Johnny Depp has officially inked a deal to headline The Invisible Man and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is rumored to transform himself into The Wolfman.

Now Universal has announced the next round of reboots to be interwoven into the family fold with plans to produce updated versions of Dracula, The Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. If you paid close attention to some of The Mummy trailers you can see what appears to be Dracula’s skull in a jar inside Dr. Jekyll’s Prodigium, and what seems to be a fin from The Creature From The Black Lagoon so at least one of these titles was anticipated, but the other pair is a pleasant surprise.

Dark Universe creative chief Alex Kurtzman confirmed the news during an interview with Fandom during The Mummy’s press tour:

“We know we’re going to do Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, Dracula, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Phantom of the Opera, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Invisible Man. There are characters within those films that can grow and expand and maybe even spin off,” he told the site. “I think that digging into deep mythologies about monsters around the world is fair game for us, as well and connecting the monsters that we know to some surprising monsters could also be really interesting. I’d love to bring Michael Fassbender in, I’d love to bring Jennifer Lawrence in, I’d love to see Charlize Theron in there, Angelina Jolie…”

Phantom (1925) and Hunchback (1923) were two of the first horror movies Carl Laemmle ever produced for Universal, both starring “The Man Of A Thousand Faces,” the legendary Lon Chaney. They will join the previous mention films in this expanded lineup all under the Dark Universe umbrella. Whether or not Universal’s Dracula reboot or spin-off will be based on the 2014 Luke Evans film, Dracula Untold, is yet to be determined.

It sounds like Universal has taken a cue from the success of the Marvel Universe films and plans to do something similar with its horror catalog. So assuming that all these remakes are well-done, monster fans have a lot to look forward to. The Bride of Frankenstein is scheduled to open next February. There’s no word yet on release dates for any of the others, but we’ll keep you all posted as soon as they are announced.

Werewolf News

Fans of the werewolf in literature, film, television, art, gaming, and just about everywhere else should stop by werewolf news, a site dedicated to all the lycanthrope news that’s fit to print.

Werewolf News was launched by A. Quinton in 2008 to share links to werewolf-related films, comics, books, products, and anything else that fellow fans of lycanthropic horror might find interesting.

Our posts tend to focus on the darker, more horror-based incarnation of the lycanthrope, but we welcome readers (and encourage submissions) from all corners of the diverse werewolf fandom. We sometimes post reviews about the things we find, especially if they’re new, noteworthy, or should be avoided altogether – because let’s face it, not every werewolf movie or book is worth your time.

The site is quite extensive, and posts updates all the time. So this is the place for all you full-moon fanatics to frequent. Check it out, just don’t take any silver bullets.