And not just any werewolf.
The original werewolf – Lon Chaney Jr.
I’ve mentioned his name on another blog post but there is nothing that can beat his portrayal of the Wolfman in 1941. As the tortured Lawrence Talbot his portrayal led to a succession of others throughout the years. The moment he wakes after turning into the wolf for the first time and the expression of horror on his face is what makes this film.
Of course, it’s 1941 so the special effects aren’t a patch on CGI but with the lights off and just the flickering screen in front of you watching as his hands grow hair and then seeing his feet become paws.
His hunched form becomes the perfect example of someone with an animalistic nature as he prowls through the screen and you have no choice except to believe that he is a werewolf.
The film also provides an interesting narrative on the folklore of werewolves. Now we have to be bitten to become one, that it is a curse and if shot with a silver bullet we can be released. It also added the caveat that we changed only when there was a full moon.
Werewolf tales exist from Greek and Roman times. These shapeshifter myths can be found all over the word from China to Iceland and Brazil to Haiti. Hollywood took these tales and added in a curse, turning them into monsters at the rise of the full moon.
Not for the first time was the moon accused of altering people. Although in common use for centuries to describe people with mental health issues in Victorian times a Lunacy Act was instigated to ‘control’ those with issues. Luckily as we discover more about the causes of mental health the terms used and the laws surrounding them have been updated.
Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night. May become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms, and the autumn moon is bright.