Nathan (vovat) wrote,

There Wolf, There Castle

bethje and I watched An American Werewolf in London last night. Neither of us had seen it before, but it was a good movie. It contained a good mix of comedy and horror, and seemed quite fast-paced. John Landis discussed the movie at the last Monster-Mania Convention, and mentioned that there really are no set rules for monster movies. This film mentioned the idea that you need silver bullets to kill a werewolf, but dismissed it. I guess my thought is that you can have a monster or other mythological creature follow any rules you want, as long as you clearly establish them and stick to them. Nods to the better-known rules are nice, though, because they show that the writer knew the mythology behind the idea, but chose to go in a different direction.

Really, the lore that everyone knows about werewolves is pretty recent anyway. If Wikipedia is to be believed, the idea that werewolves are only harmed by silver weapons only dates back to the nineteenth century. Older weaknesses for lycanthropes include rye, mistletoe, mountain ash, and wolfsbane (the latter of which actually was used in the Canadian Ginger Snaps movie series, which I believe also dismissed the silver thing). Also, while modern werewolf stories often focus on people being changed against their will, old European tales tended to be about witches and wizards who voluntarily turned themselves into wolves to carry out the Devil's work. The idea of lycanthropy being contagious also seems to be a more modern development, possibly borrowed from vampire lore.

One classical myth that a few websites mention as a possible source for the werewolf concept is the Greek tale of Lycaon of Arcadia, who presented human flesh to Zeus. Sound familiar? Instead of being tantalized in Tartarus, however, Lycaon was transformed into a wolf. Some versions of the myth say that his children also became wolves, while others simply say that Zeus killed all or most of them with thunderbolts.

Tags: monsters, movies, mythology
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