The clawing appeal of werewolves — there’s something about hairy

July 20, 2009 | 6:30 p.m.

Linton Weeks has an article over at NPR about the full-moon fever for werewolves these days. Here’s an excerpt of the lengthy piece that goes on to analyze the paw prints of this pop-culture stirring. (Note: We added the links…)

Lon_Chaney_Jr as Wolf Man

Seen The New York Times best-seller list lately? It’s awash with werecreatures — half-human, half-beast thingies. There are weretigers in Laurell K. Hamilton’s novel Skin Trade. And a werepanther in Charlaine Harris’s novel Dead and Gone.

Werethings are showing up everywhere. There’s [“The Wolf Man“] movie in the works starring Benicio Del Toro. And word of a remake of John Landis’ 1981 movie “An American Werewolf in London.” A new series on BBC America premiering in July features a weresomething-or-other.

Even the United States Senate is worrying about werecreatures. More on that in a sec. But first: Where in the world is this wereness weirdness coming from…?

Charlotte Otten, author of “A Lycanthropy Reader” and “The Literary Werewolf,” attributes the present pop-cult fascination with werethings to “our continuing interest in metamorphosis.”

A professor emerita at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., Otten says that some of the struggles in the history of metamorphosis can be traced to “uncertainty about the nature of a human being and his/her relationship to the animal kingdom.”

In werecreatures, she says, “ultimately, we find ambiguities and mysteries…”




Benecio Del Toro does his research for “The Wolf Man”

PHOTO GALLERY: Sexy beast! A history of werewolves in film

The buff Taylor Lautner gets wolfish for “New Moon”

VIDEO: The legacy of Lon Chaney Jr., looking back in horror

Beyond “The Wolf Man”: 13 other genre remakes underway  

SET VISIT: The fangs, fun and fur  of “True Blood,” season two

Photos: At top, Lon Chaney Jr. in  “The Wolf Man,” circa 1941. Credit: Los Angeles Times archives. Bottom, “The Wolf Man” in 2009. Credit: Universal Pictures


2 Responses to The clawing appeal of werewolves — there’s something about hairy

  1. David Rubin says:

    "Hear that howl the werewolf's on the prowl
    And there's blood on the moon tonight"
    -The Werewolf Of Paris (2009)
    I think people are fascinated by the strength, passion and violence that werewolves represent. Werewolves don't follow any rules other than their own wild and free nature… And the theater of their hunting grounds are awash in the light of the full moon. (Another symbol of nature that has inspired so many poets, artists and lovers throughout the years.) There is also the element of random human tragedy striking that people can identify with: The good guy (Lon Chaney Jr.) cursed to become a werewolf ("Wolfman") against his will.
    And werewolf movies are so much fun to watch. I've never seen a dull werewolf movie yet. I could have stayed in the theater all day and all night watching "Underworld: Rise Of the Lycaans". They would have had to charge me rent ;-)
    David Rubin

  2. leah says:
    I think people are fascinated by the strength that werewolves represent. Werewolves are wild. They are good guys that become werewolves. Werewolf movies are so much fun. Werewolves are fun.

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