Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

[Image trick-or-treated from the Grace Goods blog]

Have a safe night, everyone! But not too safe.

31 Werewolves | Red


And here we are at the end, back where we began with Little Red Riding Hood. Only in ABC's Once Upon a Time she's not so little. And - SEASON ONE SPOILER - she's also the Big Bad Wolf. I have mixed feelings about Once Upon a Time, but making Red a werewolf was a genius move and she's easily my favorite character on the show. I've only seen about halfway into Season Two, but so far she's one of the more surprising characters (and not just because she occasionally gets hairy) and there's plenty to like and root for about her.

Thanks for reading along this month and a special thanks to those of you who shared your own thoughts with me here and on Twitter. If you enjoyed 31 Werewolves, be sure to dive into my pal Pax's werewolf month from a couple of Halloweens ago. We covered some of the same stuff, but from different angles and there's plenty there that I didn't mention.

And speaking of things I didn't mention, I'd love it if you shared some of your favorite werewolves with me that I didn't have room for. Doing this has made me want to finally check out some werewolf stuff that I've been meaning to get to for a while and I'd love to add to that list with your suggestions.

31 Scares of Casper #31

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

31 Werewolves | Strangeways: Murder Moon

As much as I love werewolves, it's very rare when a werewolf story actually scares me. Mike Mignola's "The Wolves of Saint August" is one exception; Matt Maxwell and Luis Guaragña's werewolf Western, Murder Moon is another.

Murder Moon is the first volume in Maxwell's Strangeways series that follows cowboy Seth Collins as he encounters legendary monsters in the Wild West. It's werewolves this time and vampires in Volume 2: The Thirsty. You can read the first chapter of Murder Moon at Maxwell's site. If you're like me, you'll want Chapter 2 right away.

While I'm on the subject of werewolf Western comics, honorable mention goes to David Gallaher and Steve Ellis' High Moon. I'm ashamed that I haven't read it yet, but I hear amazing things about the former Zuda webcomic that came out a couple of years after Murder Moon. This one's about former Pinkerton detective Matthew Macgregor (a descendant of Rob Roy) who runs across a werewolf-infested town and goes to war on the beasts. It sounds more fun than frightening, but there's nothing wrong with that and there's certainly no arguing with Ellis' fantastic art.

31 Scares of Casper #30

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

31 Werewolves | The Astounding Wolf-Man

Dell may have failed to create a proper werewolf-superhero in the '60s, but Robert Kirkman and Jason Howard corrected the oversight in 2007. Kirkman - creator of The Walking Dead and a big fan of horror - came up with the idea of a man who's bitten by a werewolf, but determines to use his new abilities for good.

The man in question is named Gary Hampton and at first his story follows typical werewolf tropes as he's attacked while on vacation with his family in Montana. But then Hampton meets a vampire named Zechariah who offers to help Hampton control his werewolf form and save people rather than hurt them. Because it's a Kirkman comic, it doesn't stay that simple for long and there are lots of twists and turns as Kirkman and Howard marry superhero soap opera with genuine horror.

The series lasted 25 issues, but the character is part of the same world as Kirkman's Invincible and continues showing up in series like Phil Hester and Todd Nauck's Invincible Universe.

31 Scares of Casper #29

Monday, October 28, 2013

31 Werewolves | "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song" video

The Flaming Lips' "Yeah Yeah Yeah Song" is all about the abuse of power, so the video has lead singer Wayne Coyne as some sort of military dictator who amuses himself by torturing people.

The song suggests that human appetites will always kick in and take over, corrupting any powerful person, no matter how compassionate he or she began. The video represents these appetites in the torture sequences: a man is covered in burgers and then chased by ravenous fat dudes, then a woman has donuts taped to her body and is pursued by policemen. Finally, Coyne's character gets his comeuppance by being draped in raw meat and hounded by a werewolf, once again a symbol of unrestrained passion.

Here are the lyrics, heavily abridged because there are a lot of yeah yeah yeahs and other repetitions in there. I love it though.
If you could blow up the world
With the flick of a switch,
Would you do it?
(Yeah yeah yeah yeah, yeah yeah yeah yeah)
If you could make everybody poor
Just so you could be rich,
Would you do it?
(Yeah yeah yeah yeah, yeah yeah yeah yeah)

If you could watch everybody work
While you just lay on your back,
Would you do it?
(Yeah yeah yeah yeah, yeah yeah yeah yeah)
If you could take all the love
Without giving any back,
Would you do it?
(Yeah yeah yeah yeah, yeah yeah yeah yeah)

And so we cannot know ourselves
Or what we'd really do
With all your power.
What would you do?

If you could make your own money
And then give it to the poor,
Would you do it?
(No no no no, no no no no)
If you knew all the answers
And could give to the masses,
Would you do it?
(No no no no, no no no no)

Are you crazy?
It's a very dangerous thing to do
Exactly what you want,
Because you cannot know yourself,
Or what you'd really do
With all your power
What would you do?

31 Scares of Casper #28

Sunday, October 27, 2013

31 Werewolves | Jacob Black

I've never seen any of the Twilight movies and I haven't read the books. I don't judge those who like them (some of my favorite people in the world are fans); they just don't appeal to me.

There's no getting around their popularity though, or the fact that Jacob is probably the best-known werewolf in the world right now. For that reason, he had to make this list, but like Oz, I'll leave the commentary to those who've actually read or watched the Twilight series.

31 Werewolves | Bigby Wolf

As we head into the final stretch of the Halloween Countdown, it feels appropriate to circle back around to where we started with "Little Red Riding Hood." Bill Willingham's Fables series is all about bringing fairy tale characters into the modern world and his version of the Big Bad Wolf is a grumpy and frumpled, but extremely dangerous werewolf named Bigby (get it?).

As the series opens, Bigby is serving as the sheriff of Fabletown, the community of fairy tale characters hiding in plain sight in their own section of New York. He reminds me a bit of Wolverine as written by Chris Claremont: sullen and feral, but also fiercely loyal and dependable. And because he's owned by his creator, there's no chance that some other writer is going to come along later and ruin him. Fables is an excellent series and Bigby Wolf is a crucial part of making it so.

31 Scares of Casper #27

Saturday, October 26, 2013

31 Scares of Casper #26

31 Werewolves | Wolf Lake

I remember being very excited about the possibilities of Wolf Lake when it premiered in 2001. I always look forward to a new role by Lou Diamond Phillips (if you haven't watched Longmire on A&E, you're missing out) and loved the ambition of a series devoted entirely to werewolves.

Set in a small town in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, Wolf Lake follows a police detective (Phillips) as he investigates the brutal murder of his girlfriend. Realizing she had some secrets, he moves to her hometown of Wolf Lake, Washington and learns that the place is crawling with werewolves.

Though it had some awesome people in its cast, including Graham Greene (Maverick, Die Hard With a Vengeance) and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Live Free or Die Hard, Scott Pilgrim vs. the Word), Wolf Lake was more soapy than scary. It only lasted five episodes on CBS, though UPN later acquired the rights and re-ran those five plus four more that CBS never aired. I don't have a fond impression of the show, but it's such a great concept that I'd love to revisit it one of these days and figure out for sure what went wrong.

The Vincent Price Blogathon | The Bat (1959)

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of Vincent Price's death, and to celebrate his life and work, The Nitrate Diva is hosting The Vincent Price Blogathon all weekend. Click that link for the portal to reviews of several Price films with more coming today and tomorrow. For mine, I picked:

Who's in it?: Vincent Price (of course) and Agnes Moorehead (Citizen Kane, Bewitched)

What's it about?: A mystery novelist (Moorehead) rents a large mansion in a town plagued by a serial killer.

How is it?: Vincent Price gets top billing for being the bigger star, but Agnes Moorehead's Cornelia van Gorder is the main character in this Murder, She Wrote-like tale. Before the movie even begins, the murderer known only as the Bat (because he may or may not also be responsible for the town's infestation of rabid bats) has been at work for a while. But just as Cornelia moves in, an embezzlement at the bank sends several people looking for the money, the clue to which is possibly hidden in Cornelia's house. Price plays the local doctor who's certainly up to no good and is also a strong suspect for the Bat.

It's a simple mystery and even with lots of attempted misdirection it's not difficult to figure out who the killer is. The dialogue is also extremely clunky with the worst kind of exposition shoved in all over the place. There are a few occasions early on where instead of seeing something cool happen, we just get to hear a couple of people talk about it.

But what the movie lacks in craft it makes up in charm. I naturally hoped for Price to be the eponymous villain, but whether he is or not, he's perfectly sinister and Vincent Pricey. I also spotted a lot of Endora's wicked playfulness in Cornelia, just five years before the debut of Bewitched. It's a treat watching those two, especially in the scenes they have together. And of course there's also the spooky, old house with its secret rooms and the marvelous look of the faceless, fedora-wearing, claw-handed Bat. For those who can forgive its B-movie plot and dialogue, The Bat offers a lot to love.

Rating: Four out of five foreboding physicians.

31 Scares of Casper #25

Thursday, October 24, 2013

31 Werewolves | Remus Lupin

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite Potter movie for a few reasons, but one of the biggest is the werewolf. Not because he is a werewolf necessarily, but Professor Lupin brought a much-needed element to the series: a teacher who not only took a serious interest in Harry, but also took the time to form a relationship with the boy. Harry had other allies among the faculty in the first two films, but they kept their distance in a way that Lupin didn't feel the need for. Which makes his lycanthropic curse and the toll it takes on him that much more heartbreaking.

I'm not super fond of the thin, sad look of Lupin in werewolf form, but like The Wolf-Man and Mike Nichols' Wolf, Prisoner of Azkaban presents a tormented werewolf, and that's my favorite kind. Sadly, Lupin is pretty much just background material in the rest of the films, but I hear he gets a lot more focus in the novels that - if I'm still confessing geek deficiencies - I haven't yet read.

31 Scares of Casper #24

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

31 Werewolves | Oz

Geek Confession: I have never seen the TV series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It's on my very long list of things to correct, but it hasn't happened yet.

I still feel like Oz is kind of an important werewolf though - and hey, Seth Green - so I'm including him. You tell me though: Does he belong here? What do you think about him?

31 Scares of Casper #23

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

31 Werewolves | Wolf

With a few exceptions, werewolves of the '60s through the '80s were largely treated as fantasy creatures. There were good werewolves and bad ones, but they all pretty much just accepted their condition and audiences were expected to accept it, too. Rare was the story of a human who struggled with the curse. Rarer still was the one that did it exceptionally well.

I guess that's why I love Mike Nichols' Wolf from 1994, sort of an unofficial companion to Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula and Kenneth Branagh's Frankenstein from around the same time. Jack Nicholson plays a book editor who could teach Clark Kent something about being mild-mannered, until he's bitten by a wolf he accidentally hit with his car. Not since Lon Chaney Jr had we gotten a more sympathetic portrayal of someone who was frightened by this thing they were becoming. As the wolf side of his personality asserts itself, Nicholson's character starts seeing the benefit of living a more passionate life, but is also frightened by what could happen if he casts off all restraint. It's a complicated balance and Nicholson, of course, nails it.

Michelle Pfeiffer, James Spader, and Christopher Plummer also play important roles and this is probably my favorite werewolf movie second only to the original Wolf-Man.

31 Scares of Casper #22

Monday, October 21, 2013

31 Werewolves | The Wolves of Saint August

It was a werewolf that made me a Hellboy fan for life.

When Mike Mignola introduced his Hellboy character to the world, he lacked confidence in his writing ability and asked John Byrne to help with the scripts. Byrne wrote the first Hellboy story, Seed of Destruction, but quickly realized that Mignola was more than capable to write his own stuff and encouraged the artist to do so.

The short story, "The Wolves of Saint August" (serialized in Dark Horse Presents #88-91 before being collected in Hellboy, Volume 3: The Chained Coffin and Others) was Mignola's first attempt at writing Hellboy by himself and proved he was absolutely up to it. After reading it, I was hooked on whatever Mignola wanted to give me.

The sequence above isn't just one of my favorite Mignola bits, it's one of my favorite scenes of all time in any medium and goes to show how powerful comics can be. Any time someone says that horror comics can't be scary because the reader controls the pace... I point to this unbelievably effective and emotional scene.

31 Scares of Casper #21

Sunday, October 20, 2013

31 Werewolves | Teen Wolf

I love werewolves and I love Michael J. Fox. Teen Wolf should've been a perfect combination, but that may have been the problem. Seeing it in the theater back in the day, my expectations going into it were extremely high. All Fox had really done up to that point had been Family Ties and Back to the Future, so in my world there was no such thing as even a middling Michael J. Fox project. It was impossible for everything he ever touched to equal those two things and unfortunately, Teen Wolf is what broke the streak.

There's a lot to like about the movie though. Fox, for instance. And James Hampton as his sympathetic and loving father (two traits that can't be taken for granted in '80s teen-movie parents). And I truly love the werewolf design and the journey Fox's character, Scott, makes in coming to terms with who he is. I also love how - once his secret is out - most of the kids at Scott's school accept him. That's a powerful fantasy and I'm glad the movie went there.

But there are other elements that lock Teen Wolf in '80s teen comedy mediocrity. It's been too long since I've seen it, so I don't remember a lot of details, but I do remember Stiles. He was maybe one notch above Mike Damone from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, but he was still an insufferable douche who wasn't as cool as he thought he was. I also remember not liking the van-surfing, but I don't recall if I actually thought it was dumb or was just jealous that I couldn't do it too.

Maybe I need to watch this movie again. It could use another visit now that I've got some distance and historical perspective. I still love Michael J. Fox, but with The Hard Way and Life With Mikey behind me, my standards for his vehicles are somewhat lower these days.

31 Scares of Casper #20

Saturday, October 19, 2013

31 Werewolves | Ladyhawke

I don't usually think of Ladyhawke as a werewolf movie, but it totally is, even if it deviates from the standard legends and tropes in significant ways. Set in medieval times, it's about a knight (Rutger Hauer) who's been cursed by an evil bishop (John Wood) so that he becomes a wolf every night. The reason for the curse is that the bishop was once spurned by a woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) because she was in love with the knight. She's cursed as well and becomes a hawk every day, so that the two lovers can only ever see each other's human forms for a heartbreaking moment at dawn and dusk when they're both in mid-transformation. Matthew Broderick is also in the movie as a young thief who befriends the doomed couple, and Alfred Molina plays a wolf-trapper.

It's an interesting take on the werewolf theme. There's a bit of the traditional metaphor for unrestrained passion going on and the knight accidentally wounds the thief while in wolf form. And as often happens in werewolf fiction, neither the knight nor the lady remember anything that happened while in their animal forms. That's especially significant for this tale, because it's a deliberate part of the curse that even though they can travel together, they can't enjoy the experience. If lycanthropy is a metaphor for indulging passions, I like the suggestion that we can't even enjoy them properly when we're in the midst of being consumed by them.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)

Who's in it?: Lon Chaney (The Phantom of the Opera, London After Midnight), Patsy Ruth Miller (dozens of silent films, but this is the only one she's known for), and Norman Kerry (The Phantom of the Opera, The Unknown).

What's it about?: A gypsy girl captures the hearts of a royal knight (Kerry) and a deformed outcast (Chaney).

How is it?: Amazingly faithful to Victor Hugo's novel, which is quite a feat due to the numerous characters and plots Hugo liked to weave together in books like this and Les Miserables. Director Wallace Worseley's adaptation manages to condense everything while still feel like the real thing. Chaney of course is astonishing as Quasimodo, creating his own makeup and swinging around on gargoyles like he's Spider-Man. Miller perfectly gets across Esmerelda's innocence and kindness and makes me believe that everyone falls in love with her, because I'm right there with them. And Kerry may be wearing a goofy wig, but his Phoebus has a charming sense of humor and a light spirit that makes him a great contrast to all the scheming and misery going on in the rest of the film. It's easy to see why Esmerelda goes for him.

That said, the courtship between Esmerelda and Phoebus is rushed and awkward. By the end of the movie I believe that they care deeply about each other, but getting there is rough. They represent powerful things to each other though, so the attraction makes sense. Esmerelda's a stark contrast to the more sophisticated women Phoebus is used to, while he's the shining sun in her dark world.

That darkness makes for a powerful, contemporary theme as Esmerelda's friends grow increasingly frustrated with how they're treated by the rich, and the possibility of rebellion becomes more and more real. It's easy to relate to her foster father, Clopin, and his thirst for justice, even if I don't like the violent way with which he wants to seize it.

For all this extra richness though, the film is best when it's focusing on Quasimodo, a man so lowly that even the miserable Clopin and Company feel superior to him. Chaney makes Quasimodo incredibly sympathetic and I felt the pain when he was betrayed by someone he thought was his only friend. Just as I also experienced his joy and love in response to Esmerelda's forgiveness and kindness.

Rating: Five out of five pitchers of water.

31 Scares of Casper #19

Friday, October 18, 2013

Kaänga and Ann hate cephalopods

From Jungle Comics #105. Read the whole story at The Catacombs.

31 Werewolves | The Wolf's Hour

Michael Gallatin from Robert R. McCammon's The Wolf's Hour isn't one of the best-known werewolves of all time. He isn't even one of my favorites, since I've never read the book. But one of my roommates from back in the day sure had and it was his all-time favorite book. We agreed about enough other stuff - and the premise of a Nazi-fighting werewolf is intriguing enough - that I bought myself a copy.

I've never gotten around to reading it, but I will one of these days and the subject of werewolves never comes up without my thinking about this novel and how I need to check it out.

From the back cover:
He is Michael Gallatin, master spy, lover - and werewolf. Able to change shape with lightning speed, to kill silently or with savage, snarling fury, he proved his talents against Rommel in Africa. Now he faces his most delicate, dangerous mission: to unravel the secret Nazi plan known as Iron Fist. From a parachute jump into occupied France to the lush corruption of Berlin, from the arms of a beautiful spy to the cold embrace of a madman's death machine, Gallatin draws ever closer to the ghastly truth about Iron Fist. But with only hours to D-Day, he is trapped in the Nazi's web of destruction...

Robert R. McCammon breaks the mold of the werewolf novel with The Wolf's Hour, combining a remarkable tale of pulse-pounding excitement with a uniquely sympathetic, fascinating portrait of the werewolf as noble warrior - and conflicted being. Complex, compelling and utterly real, Michael Gallatin deserves a place of honor in the pantheon of great fictional heroes.
McCammon also wrote a prequel, The Hunter from the Woods, which is actually a collection of novellas and short stories about Gallatin's life and adventures prior to The Wolf's Hour.

31 Scares of Casper #18

Thursday, October 17, 2013

31 Werewolves | "Hungry Like the Wolf"

When I first considered including "Hungry Like the Wolf" in this list, I thought I was kidding myself. I love Duran Duran and this is one of my favorite songs of theirs, but I didn't seriously think it was appropriate. The video, which is always in my head when I hear the song, has lead singer Simon Le Bon in an Indiana Jones-like adventure (it was filmed in Sri Lanka) as he hunts a woman. There are hints that she's some kind of werecreature, but even if that part's meant to be taken literally, she's a cat, not a wolf. The wolf refers to LeBon and - in the video, at least - it's metaphorical.

But... according to an interview that guitarist Andy Taylor gave Blender magazine, Le Bon's inspiration for the song's lyrics was "Little Red Riding Hood." Reading them in that light, it makes a lot of sense. It's all about lust and losing yourself to your passions; exactly the kind of thing that "Little Red Riding Hood" and werewolves in general are about.
Dark in the city; night is a wire.
Steam in the subway; earth is afire.
Do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do
Woman, you want me; give me a sign
And catch my breathing even closer behind.
Do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do
In touch with the ground,
I'm on the hunt I'm after you.
Smell like I sound. I'm lost in a crowd
And I'm hungry like the wolf.
Straddle the line in discord and rhyme.
I'm on the hunt I'm after you.
Mouth is alive with juices like wine
And I'm hungry like the wolf.
Stalked in the forest; too close to hide.
I'll be upon you by the moonlight side.
Do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do
High blood drumming on your skin it's so tight.
You feel my heat; I'm just a moment behind.
Do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do
In touch with the ground,
I'm on the hunt I'm after you.
Scent and a sound; I'm lost and I'm found
And I'm hungry like the wolf.
Strut on a line. It's discord and rhyme.
I howl and I whine I'm after you.
Mouth is alive, all running inside
And I'm hungry like the wolf.

Hungry like the wolf
Hungry like the wolf
Hungry like the wolf

Burning the ground, I break from the crowd.
I'm on the hunt I'm after you.
I smell like I sound. I'm lost and I'm found
And I'm hungry like the wolf.
Strut on a line, it's discord and rhyme.
I'm on the hunt I'm after you.
Mouth is alive with juices like wine
And I'm hungry like the wolf.
Burning the ground, I break from the crowd.
I'm on the hunt I'm after you.
Scent and a sound; I'm lost and I'm found
And I'm hungry like the wolf.
Strut on a line, it's discord and rhyme.
I howl and I whine I'm after you...

31 Scares of Casper #17

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

31 Werewolves | An American Werewolf in London

The third werewolf movie to come out in 1981 (the others being Wolfen and The Howling) was of course An American Werewolf in London. As I mentioned yesterday, makeup artist Rick Baker was actually supposed to work on The Howling, but left that production to do American Werewolf instead. Since American Werewolf is especially well-known for Baker's effects (he even won the first ever Oscar for makeup from this movie), that was an excellent get for writer/director John Landis (Animal HouseBlues Brothers).

Landis came up with the idea when he met a group of Yugoslavian gypsies while working as a production assistant on Kelly's Heroes. Watching them perform a funeral ritual that involved preventing the deceased from returning, Landis was struck by the idea of the undead and wrote the script for American Werewolf about that same time. It would be over a decade though before he had enough clout in Hollywood to get it made, and even then his backers were uncomfortable with the blend of humor and horror. It was a hit though - both critically and financially - and remains one of the most popular werewolf films of all time.

It has one sequel, 1997's An American Werewolf in Paris, but that film was made by none of the same people and featured new characters (though one is the daughter of David and Alex from the first film). It also used cheap CGI for its werewolves, so it doesn't even have good special effects in common with the original. It was a critical and popular failure.

31 Scares of Casper #16

Giants hate cephalopods

[Suggested by Shad Daly.]

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

31 Werewolves | The Howling

1981 was a big year for werewolf movies. It saw the movie version of Whitley Strieber's The Wolfen, it gave us this film, and there was a third one that we'll talk about tomorrow.

Like Wolfen, The Howling is based on a novel, this one by Gary Brandner. In the book, a woman is trying to recover from an extremely traumatic event and moves with her husband to a small town in northern California that unfortunately is populated entirely by werewolves. The film more of less follows the book's plot, but details are very different, including the nature of the lead character's (Dee Wallace) trauma and the community in which the werewolves live. In the movie, it's a resort instead of a small town. The film also includes a final, sequel-teasing act in which the main characters attempt to prove the existence of werewolves.

It's been decades since I've seen it, so I don't remember much, but it gets mixed reviews from critics and fans who either find it clever or silly. The Howling borders on camp, but it's intentional with tons of visual jokes and references to other werewolf movies. A lot of characters are named after directors of werewolf films from Wallace's therapist George Waggner (The Wolf Man) to her friend Terri Fisher (Curse of the Werewolf) and TV anchorman Lew Landers (The Return of the Vampire). The movie even makes room for cameos by Forrest J. Ackerman and Roger Corman, if that helps identify the tone it's going for.

The special effects were pretty remarkable for their day and would probably be more praised had their developer, Rick Baker, not left the film to work on the project we'll talk about tomorrow. Still, Baker's protege Rob Bottin took over and did a great job with the air bladders and latex faces to create the transformations.

One other bit of trivia: The Howling apparently takes place in the same universe as Gremlins. Both were directed by Joe Dante and include the role of the anchorman Landers played by Jim McKrell (who was also in Michael J. Fox's Teen Wolf). Gremlins also features a refrigerator decorated with the smiley face sticker that The Howling's serial killer character (Star Trek: Voyager's Robert Picardo) used as his calling card.

The Howling did well enough to warrant a bunch of sequels, though all but the first were direct-to-video:

Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf (1985) - Wallace's brother investigates the events of the first movie and is talked by Christopher Lee into going to Transylvania to fight werewolf queen Sybil Danning.

Howling III: The Marsupials (1987) - Doesn't really connect to the previous movies, focusing instead on female werewolves in Australia who've evolved separately from other werewolves. It also makes the werewolves into sympathetic characters by having one of them as the lead.

Howling IV: The Original Nightmare (1988) - The first direct-to-video release of the series returns to Brandner's novel for inspiration and actually gets closer to it than the first film did.

Howling V: The Rebirth (1989) - A diverse group of tourists visit a newly opened castle in Hungary and suffer the werewolfy consequences.

Howling VI: The Freaks (1991) - Returning to the idea of sympathetic werewolves, this one has a wolf boy captured by a vampire as an exhibit in a traveling carnival.

Howling VII: New Moon Rising (1995) - Tying together characters and events from Howlings IV - VI, this one is set in a Western town that begins to suffer animal attacks when a stranger from Australia arrives.

The Howling: Reborn (2011) - A boarding school student has to defend his girlfriend from his werewolf mother. 

Brandner also wrote a couple of sequels to his novel, though neither was used as source material for the  other movies. His Howling II is about the main character from the first book, now living in Seattle until werewolves from her past return to stalk her. The final novel in the series, The Howling III: Echoes, doesn't include any characters from the first two and instead follows a werewolf kid from a town close to the one from the first book.

31 Scares of Casper #15

Happy 101st Anniversary, Tarzan!

My original plan for Tarzan 101 was to take the month of October off so I could focus on the Halloween Countdown, but once we finally got here, it seemed silly not to talk about Tarzan in the very month of his anniversary. That's why I've been ramping up the 101 posts lately and here we are.

If anyone knows for sure which date the October 1912 All-Story hit the stands, they haven't shared it with me, but that was the issue that featured the first installment of Edgar Rice Burroughs' new novel about an English baby adopted by African apes.

I've had such a blast going through Scott Tracy Griffin's Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration and I hope you've enjoyed this series of posts. Thanks so much to Griffin for writing the awesome book and to Titan Books for sending me a copy. It was a perfect way to celebrate the centennial, even if I did it a year late. And thanks to you guys for reading and sharing your own Tarzan experiences with me. You can be sure it won't be the last time the ape man comes up on this blog.

[UPDATE: The awesome @ERBurroughsFan tells me that the Oct. 1912 issue of The All-Story was copyrighted and put on sale on Sept. 10, 1912. So I'm way late, but really grateful for the info.]

31 Werewolves | Drak Pack

Hanna Barbera's monsters-as-superheroes cartoon, Drak Pack lasted a couple of seasons on CBS Saturday mornings in the early '80s. If features three high school students - Drak, Frankie, and Howler - who are actually descendants of classic monsters and "dedicated to reversing the evil image of their forefathers" by fighting the evil supervillain group, O.G.R.E.

When trouble appears, the three friends give each other the Drak Whack and transform into monster form. In keeping with the superhero theme, they have a flying, amphibious car and each of them has superpowers appropriate to his heritage. Drak's a telekinetic shape-changer, Frankie is super strong with electrical powers, and Howler the werewolf has a sonic howl and super breath.

Monday, October 14, 2013

31 Scares of Casper #14

Tarzan 101 | Further Reading

Celebrating Tarzan's 101st anniversary by walking through Scott Tracy Griffin's Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration.

The final chapter in Griffin's book is a bibliography of other books that interested fans can go to for more information. The granddaddy of these is the 820-page Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Man Who Created Tarzan, written by Irwin Porges with the cooperation of Burroughs' family and access to their exhaustive archive of Burroughs' letters, photos, and other memorabilia. It was published in 1975, the year in which Burroughs would have celebrated his 100th birthday.

There are a ton of other books that get shout outs by Griffin - far too many to list here - so I'll send you to Griffin's book if you're interested in the entire list. Porges' biography is worth singling out though, so I wanted to make sure it got a post.

31 Werewolves | Creature Commandos

It took DC a lot longer than Marvel to work the classic monsters into their universe. Though I don't doubt that there were random appearances of vampires and werewolves over the years, it was 1980 and Weird War Tales #93 that finally gave the monsters their due.

War and horror comics were big genres in the '70s and DC published several of each. War comics had gotten popular after WWII and DC answered the demand with series like Star-Spangled War Stories and Our Army at War, which were both eventually renamed after their respective recurring characters, Unknown Soldier and Sergeant Rock. Meanwhile, the Comics Code Authority relaxed some of its rules in 1971, bringing about a resurgence in horror comics from lots of publishers, but especially Charlton and DC. DC returned House of Mystery to its horror roots (after spending a good part of the '60s on Martian Manhunter and Dial H for Hero) and introduced new horror titles like The Unexpected and The Witching Hour.

Introduced in 1971, Weird War Tales was a combination of the two genres, featuring war stories with supernatural elements and J.M. DeMatteis and Pat Broderick created the Creature Commandos as part of DC's attempt to revive interest in the nine-year-old series. The team was a group of soldiers brought together and modified by a secret government organization called Project M. The unit was led by a normal human, but consisted of a Frankenstein-looking soldier who'd been stitched back together after stepping on a landmine, a criminal who was given vampire-like abilities, the Gorgonesque Dr. Medusa, and a farm boy named Warren Griffith whom Project M turned into a werewolf.

The Creature Commandos appeared off and on in Weird War Tales for a total of 18 issues until the series was cancelled with #124. They remained more or less dormant after that until 2000 when Tim Truman and Scot Eaton revived them for an 8-issue mini-series, adding a mummy, a Creature from the Black Lagoon-like monster, and a cyborg. In Weird War Tales, Griffith had been more or less a normal person (though one who suffered from clinical lycanthropy) who - thanks to Project M - could also change into real werewolf form, but Truman and Eaton made him more feral and out of control.

Besides a few appearances in DC events like Villains United and Justice League: Generation Lost, the Commandos' next major role was in the Flashpoint mini-series, Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown. This version replaced the Frankenstein-like soldier with the actual Frankenstein Monster, but the other major Commandos stayed the same, including Griffith as the werewolf. That version of the team carried over relatively intact to support the Frankenstein Monster in his 16-issue series, Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE.


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