AP Lit & Comp
The Transformation of the Werewolf
The halfman, halfwolf lycanthrope is considered to be one of the most feared supernatural creatures in existence. Numerous legends concern werewolvesthe dreadful deeds in which they committed, how to protect oneself against an attack, how to kill one of them and people’s obsession with the beast can be found in countless books, television shows and films made to capture their nature. While the werewolf continues to hold a prominent place in society today, much of their once formidable attributes have disappeared. Modern mediums of entertainment cater to the sexuality of society, by making werewolves into ‘normal’ beings who are able to form relationships with humans and control their shifts. What was once considered to be a selfhating monster, is now portrayed as a romanticized individual that can live a seemingly normal life, while garnering lust from those around them.
In films such as The Wolfman, which arrived in theaters during 1941, there was no inclusion of sex appeal whatsoever. The reason for the lack of sexual involvement, was society’s more reserved nature during this time. Even though the ‘pin up girls’ rose to fame during the 40s society as a whole veered away from such open sexuality. Instead, there was a sense of fear and heavy somberness that emanated from the wolfman character. The wolf in which this motion picture focuses on is eerily frightening to those around him, as well as the audience.
Additionally, his ability to change forms is considered to be a curse, admittedly so by the man,
Lawrence Stewart Talbot, himself. The film centers on Talbot, who is suffering through a rough patch in his life, having his wife leave him for a younger man, who has recently replaced him at work. After being bitten by another werewolf, Talbot finds himself battling his budding feelings for the owner of a local antique shop, Gwen. All the while, Talbot is trying to overcome his newest issue, fighting his beast’s need to stalk the village and kill its inhabitants. Talbot’s wolf commandeers complete control during his transformations, turning him into a mindless and monstrous creature bent on the destruction of anything in his path. The overall prospect of losing one’s humanity was crucial in garnering the audience’s fear for the film. This seemingly normal man would become an object of pure evil and could do nothing to stop it from transpiring.
Similar films from the mid 1900s, also possessed lycanthropic creatures that were not to be trifled with. They were beasts with the craving to mutilate and kill. Also, werewolves of the time, including Talbot, only had the ability to shift during the dreaded full moon, whose presence would activate the painful change. Up until that point, the creature’s human form was considerably normal in his everyday tasks, with no identifiable features that would suggest that these people were actually werewolves. This idea, led to the belief that even your neighbors could be filled with an uncontrollable rage and evil within them.
Similar to the movies of the early twentieth century, those of the late 1900’s were primarily horror. Still, the inclusion of sexuality became apparent during the 80’s. One of the first werewolf motion pictures that alluded to any sexual involvement was The Company of
Wolves, whose initial release date was in the fall of 1984. This particular movie discusses werewolf folklore and the sexual significance of the creature. The film hones in on various women falling in love with smoldering men, only to go disappearing during the full moon. The
implication of sexual relationships during the late 1900s happens in relation to society’s acceptance and awakening of a more sexually open individual. Even during this period where love was open, there were still certain connotations of those who didn’t integrate with society’s