Tag Archives: werewolf

Haunting Halloween Guest Post: A Woman Scorned

“A Toast to Dragons” is participating in a Halloween Blogfest at Long and Short Reviews (you may remember them; they reviewed my book, Drasmyr, here) this year. I wrote a short short story (under 1000 words) entitled “A Woman Scorned,” which will be posted on the LASR website on 11/1 at 10 a.m. today. As mentioned previously we are offering a prize for one commenter on the guest blog at the LASR site, NOT the normal biweekly blog at “A Toast to Dragons” which I have already posted (see below). For more information on the Blogfest go here: http://www.longandshortreviews.com/promo.htm.

 

The prize “A Toast to Dragons” is offering for one lucky commenter on “A Woman Scorned” is a set of metal miniatures; specifically, a pair of vampire counts and a pair of vampire slayers from the Classic Vampire Wars line by West Wind Productions Gothic Horror.

 

Movie Review: Werewolf: The Beast Among Us (2012)

Werewolves and vampires are popular these days (as witnessed by this blog and my book, Drasmyr). “Werewolf: The Beast Among Us” is a made-for-DVD movie about a werewolf terrorizing a small 19th-century village. A couple friends and I rented this film for a kind of pre-Halloween werewolf flick-night. It stars Guy Wilson as the main character, a young surgeon-in-training named Daniel who also has a penchant for drawing and blacksmithing (he’s a talented young lad). It also stars Stephen Rea (they guy who played the detective in “V for Vendetta and also starred in the latest “Underworld” movie), although his is a minor role.

 

In the film, Daniel and his village are desperate to stop the predations of the hideous beast. They hire a group of werewolf hunters, who will hopefully solve their problem. Soon, however, they learn that this werewolf is unlike any other: It was born a werewolf, not transformed by a bite. So, it is stronger and smarter than the rest of its brethren and it has the potential to learn how to shape-shift at will. Danielle, of course, wants to join the hunters, but he is turned down initially. Eventually, though, the leader of the hunters, Charles, accepts his help and they assign a few small tasks to Danielle—mostly procuring bait and what-have-you. Then, the hunt begins. I’ll leave the rest of the plot a mystery, so you can enjoy it yourself.

 

Overall, the film was entertaining. It was better than a lot of werewolf movies I’ve seen (not that I’ve seen too many—it just seems way too easy to make a bad werewolf movie). The special effects were okay, though not exceptional. The plot was interesting, but some of the developments seemed forced. There were gypsies in the movie, and they were only there because it was a werewolf movie. They had the one vital clue, and that was about it. And their costumes pretty much blended with the rest of the town—very non-distinctive. There was a romantic element to the film, but one which left a very large unresolved problem by the time it wrapped up. The film also used a number of elements “lifted” from other werewolf movies I’ve seen. Most particularly, it took a few elements from the remake of “The Wolfman” that came out a couple years ago.

 

Overall I’ll give this film three stars out of five. If you want to see a really good werewolf movie, I’d recommend the aforementioned remake of “The Wolfman.” Still, this movie was worth seeing. Good for Halloween.

Monster Mishmash: A Vampire Werewolf

This is a continuation of the train of thought started with my “Monster Mishmash: A Vampire Dragon” post. In that post, I examined what a creature that was the result of crossing a dragon and vampire would be like. So, I thought, why not continue the thought process and see what happens when you cross a vampire with a werewolf? Unfortunately, this one doesn’t work quite as well. Depending upon the tradition you start with, it might not be really that much of a change. I remember in Francis Ford Coppola’s film version of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” there were several instances where Dracula shape-changed into something, that to me, looked pretty much like a werewolf. A snarling, lust-ridden, beastie of fur, and claws. And if that’s the case, trying to make a vampire into a werewolf, might be something of a step down or just an insignificant change. The vampire can already control wolves, and assume the werewolf form: what would the werewolf aspect give him? Dracula is, also, already supernaturally strong. At most, the vampire might just lose-control of his shape-shifting faculties on the night of a full moon. And lack of control would certainly be a weakness gained. Alternatively, and perhaps more probably, he would just absorb the werewolf nature and continue on his way, relatively unchanged.

 

On the other hand, if you go with the “Underworld” series of movies, the notion of a vampire-werewolf is already central to the plot: they beat me to the punchline here. Underworld vampires are limited to human form, and not as physically strong (I don’t think) as the werewolves. In such a situation, both species benefit from the mix and you wind up with something that is “stronger than either.” There’s really not that much to add to the notion here, because the whole movie series revolves around that plot point. They have their vampire-werewolves and they have several two hour movies to develop the theme in, compared to my mere few hundred words of text. Still, I should probably say something. A vampire-werewolf in Underworld, if I recall, gains a limited shape-changing ability, and also loses the weaknesses of each respective species. He is no longer affected by silver or sunlight. So, the only way to kill him is to rip him to pieces. And if that is your plan, since he is unusually strong, you’ll have your work cut out for you.

 

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the vampire-werewolf. For myself, since I prefer my vampires like Dracula, I see only a limited benefit in the combination, if that. The vampire is already in possession of much of the werewolf’s strengths, so the combination is of limited utility.

Scary October Promotional Post at Mywithershins

Today I’m doing a bit extra (this is the third post today—make sure you check out the others). As part of their Scary October series, we’re running a promotion at the Mywithershins blog. Basically, Mywithershins is running a series of posts based on frightful October—all things related to vampires, zombies, witches, and what have you. We’ve posted a blurb and an excerpt from my novel Drasmyr at the blog. So make sure you check out Mywithershins and show them your support.

Movie Review: Hotel Transylvania

All right, I was in a silly, childish mood the other day and I went to see “Hotel Transylvania.” It’s an animated kid’s movie. I have to say, I enjoy children’s movies—now that I’m an adult and I don’t care what other people think when I go see a children’s movie (unlike when I was a teenager and wouldn’t be caught dead watching such a flick)…. I think that particular transformation started in college when I saw Aladdin for the first time and thought, “Hey, that’s a pretty good story.”

 

Anyway, Hotel Transvylvania. It tells the story of Count Dracula (I don’t believe it: I saw a listing of the cast on-line and Dracula was played by Adam Sandler… my mind is just trying to register that; I totally didn’t recognize his voice!), his daughter, Mavis, and her human love interest, Jonathan. Besides Sandler, there are a number of other relatively big names in the film like Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, and John Lovitz among others. Basically, Dracula has had some bad experiences dealing with humans. So, he’s set up a hotel in the middle of nowhere where he, his daughter, and all the other monsters of the world can retreat to for safety and peace. He’s started a whole business on the basis that humans are bad and lead only to terrible things. He’s raised his daughter, Mavis, in the confines of the castle; she’s basically never seen the outside world or had any interaction with any humans at all. He’s raised her and taught her one basic rule: humans are terrible and must be avoided at all costs.

 

But it is now Mavis’ 118th birthday and she, like any other vampire of such an age (I guess), wants to see the world and experience new things. She’s feeling a little cramped in the castle. And in keeping with the typical teen-parent conflict common in movies, Dracula is intent on keeping his daughter safe at home; he’s also throwing a birthday party for her. All the other monsters of the world are invited: Frankenstein, the werewolf, skeletons, zombies, and more. However, this year there is an uninvited party-crasher: the human, Jonathan, who wanders into the castle on this most momentous of nights. He meets Mavey and the inevitable happens: Jonathan and Mavey hit it off and all sorts of chaos breaks loose.

 

Criticisms: well, there is some crude humor in the film (flatulence and nose-picking related), and there’s that whole vampire-human relationship thing which is just odd if you really think about it. But this is a kid’s movie, and you’re not supposed to think too deeply about a kid’s movie. Overall, I found it thoroughly enjoyable and worth the hour and a half of time spent watching it.

 

I’ll give it four stars out of five.

Vampire, Werewolf, or Zombie? Which Would You Rather Be?

I haven’t done a completely ridiculous post in quite some time (excepting, of course, on my recent blog tour), so I figure I’m overdue. So, here goes.

 

The question of the ages. You are condemned to live the rest of your life as a monster, but you are given a choice: you can be a vampire, a werewolf, or a zombie. What is your decision?

 

For myself, I’m going with the werewolf primarily because that is the one where you retain the most of your humanity. I mean, a zombie, really? All you have to look forward to is shambling around the countryside, rotting from the inside out, or from the outside in, and looking to feast on brains. Your intellectual capacity is reduced to virtually zero, and you’ve come to accept monosyllabic grunts and groans as the pinnacle of communication. No reading philosophy for you! A step up from that is the vampire. Here, well, you’re dead. According to most traditions, you are incinerated by sunlight so it’s the nightlife for you. You sleep in coffins, and drink human blood. Gone are the days of feasting on hot chicken wings and beer; nope, just blood. Day in. Day out. Although you do have some funky powers, and you have retained your remarkable intellect, you also suffer from a variety of weaknesses, like the previously mentioned sunlight. But also, you can’t enter a building unless invited. You can’t cross running water. You are repelled by holy objects. And most importantly of all: you stink. No matter where you go or what you do, whenever you set up house, you are haunted by that ever-present, hideous odor of the undead. The stuff of rotting corpses and graves. A small price to pay for immortality perhaps, but not an easy one.

 

Compare the above, to the werewolf. Once a month (okay, maybe three evenings a month, one on either side of the full moon, if we are generous), you transform into a hideous beast and roam the countryside looking for someone to rip to shreds. You have little memory of these events, let alone control. The rest of the time, you are basically a human, often with extraordinary strength and keen senses. You can go around in sunlight; you don’t rot; and you don’t stink… although you might have a bad case of fleas. Some traditions hold that you are immortal; others, that you will die in your own time.

 

For myself, immortality does have something of an allure; I could learn a lot in limitless time, but eventually, I think, I’d get bored.

 

I think all three of the above constitute curses. Vampires and werewolves are usually associated with losing your soul… not so sure about zombies. If God is understanding and lets you into heaven after your zombie body is destroyed, then perhaps that’s the way to go. But ignoring afterlife concerns, I’m sticking with the werewolf.

Fantasy Monsters: Vampires vs. Werewolves—Who Is Scarier?

So we return to the age-old question of vampires and werewolves. I’ve previously opined on the question of which one would win in a fight against the other (for those who don’t know, I went with the werewolf… barring certain conditions). Now, I want to look at the question from a human perspective: which one is scarier? One on one, a human is dead either way—or perhaps even cursed from the conflict—but which gives the human being more cause for alarm?

 

A superficial treatment that examines the creatures in their traditional forms will probably conclude that the werewolf is scarier. The traditional vampire looks basically human; perhaps, he is a little pale, and his teeth are a little overly large, but he can walk among us without provoking a hue and cry or any other extraordinary response. The werewolf, however, in her true form is a terrible beast to behold: claws, fangs, fur, and fury. It is a snarling beast without control or conscience. As such, it will engender the most profound terror in its victims before it kills.

 

But… does the story end there? Is the mundane appearance of the vampire actually a disadvantage here? The key point with the vampire is that he is a thinking foe. The werewolf, in her true form, is just a savage creature that will rip you to pieces—true this will be terrifying to experience, but only for a moment. The vampire can plot against you; he can seduce you; he can wrap you in the threads of his machinations, like a spider ensnares a fly—slowly, with the horror mounting moment to moment, until you realize there is no escape, and you have lost your humanity and your soul to a creature whose bite will sentence you to hell.

 

The vampire also has the option of being as scary as the werewolf, or, at least, close to it. The traditional vampire can take the form of a wolf if he wants (which is not necessarily as intimidating as a walking wolf-man, but it can be a bit unnerving nonetheless). He can take the form of mist, so when you are snooping around in the mist-shrouded halls of his castle, you will have every reason to be alarmed. Although there are more ways to kill a vampire than there are a werewolf, the vampire has more abilities. As stated above he can assume the form of wolf or mist (and bat), but he can also mesmerize his human victims and control the weather. True, he has more weaknesses than a werewolf, but those just serve to make him more intriguing.

 

A vampire has more mobility, as well. The original vampire myths allowed them to move about during the day. Regardless, a vampire is a vampire every day of its existence; a werewolf is only a werewolf on the night of a full moon.

 

So, if you are looking for cheap terror, then a werewolf is more frightening. But if you are looking for a deep, more profound horror that takes you in its fist and crushes the life from you, ever so slowly—the vampire is the way to go.

Fantasy Monster Fight: Vampires vs. Werewolves

All right. This is a completely silly post which has no bearing on the real world, or on literary criticism, or on whatever else, but I’m in an odd mood.

 

Some people have fantasy football (do people still do that these days?); I’ve got my fantasy monster fight. The question before me is: who would win in a fight? A vampire? Or a werewolf? Whole book series and movies have been written on this topic. In the Underworld movie series, for example, vampires and werewolves are in a state of perpetual warfare. And in the Twilight books… uh, I really don’t know because I refuse to read them, but I understand that there is a love triangle involving a human, a werewolf, and a vampire. Re-reading that, that sounds like the beginning of a bad joke. “A human, a werewolf, and a vampire enter a bar…”

 

Anyway, if a vampire and a werewolf came to blows, who would win? For those of us geeky gamers who used to play AD&D, the winner is obviously the vampire. Just look at the creatures’ stats in the Monster Manual. But trying to evaluate the match through literature is a little bit more difficult. One can only assess the situation by evaluating strengths and weaknesses.

 

Both vampires and werewolves are supernaturally strong. Both tend to be on the prowl or at their peak strength during night time hours. One on one against the typical human, the typical human doesn’t stand a chance. Both vampires and werewolves procreate by biting humans. And typically such transformations are a one way deal. What about weaknesses?

 

As far as humans are concerned, the only way to kill a werewolf is with a silver bullet. And I suppose fire works as well. The ways to kill a vampire, depending upon which particular myth you are dealing with, include: wooden stakes through the heart, decapitation, immersion in running water, sunlight, a silver bullet, and holy water. And I don’t think they are fond of fire either. The vampire also has several other weaknesses, although none of them are fatal. These include invitations, garlic, and roses. Clearly, if one considers weaknesses alone, the werewolf has the advantage. At least, it is clear that a human will find it more difficult to kill a werewolf than a vampire.

 

The vampire, however, does have two more important advantages: it can fly (or transform into a bat) and it always retains a human-like intelligence. Since it is intelligent, a vampire is more likely to seek out a gun and silver bullet if it is about to face a werewolf than vice versa. If one nixes the transforming into a bat bit, and simply gives the vampire the power of flight with a gun and several silver bullets, the vampire’s going to win quite easily. Actually, unless one grants the werewolf the ability to harm the vampire with its claws and bite, the vampire will always have the advantage of intellect over animalistic brawn. It should win pretty much every confrontation on those grounds: a snarling, drooling werewolf simply won’t think to use a wooden stake or a bowie knife. But if the vampire and werewolf can both harm each other with their respective natural weapons, all bets are off.

 

Regardless, as far as humans are concerned: it is better to fight a vampire. You have more options to kill, repel, or, at the very least, escape from a vampire than you do a werewolf. So, remember that the next time you are out wandering through a graveyard beneath a full moon. Go with the guy clawing his way out of the ground rather than the strange beastie howling at the moon.

Movie Review: The Howling, Reborn

I was never a huge fan of the Howling film series when it came out—what was that, the 80’s maybe? There was one exception, though, I think it was “Howling Five,” set in a castle where a werewolf was systematically killing off a group of guests, or something like that. That was probably one of the more suspenseful and better werewolf movies I’ve ever seen. Anyway, on a kind of spur of the moment type thing, a friend and I sat down to watch the movie “The Howling, Reborn” the other night.

 

“The Howling, Reborn” tells the story of Will Kidman, a young teenager soon to graduate from High School. Suffering the usual bullies and whatnot from his school, Will earns particular ire for his interest in classmate Eliana Wynter. But things rapidly take a turn for the worse, and before he knows it, he is on his way to becoming a werewolf and he and Eliana are pitted against a growing army of such creatures intent upon wreaking horrible destruction upon humanity. And only the two love-struck high-schoolers can stop them.

 

Overall, I thought the storyline was decent. It held me interested for most of the movie. It wasn’t exceptional, by any means, but original enough with a few clever surprises here and there to make it worthwhile. The special effects, however, were pretty lame. The werewolves looked like 80’s Halloween costumes. A far cry from say the more recent “The Wolfman” movie where the transformations were chillingly realistic.

 

Anyway, if you can put with the cheesy special effects and you are into werewolves, you might enjoy the movie. I’ll give it three out of five stars.

Old Movie Review: The Wolfman

I watched the 2010 remake of “The Wolfman” the other night (we own it on DVD). I saw the original 1941 film on TV several months ago—it was terrible and cheesy, and generally awful. The remake of the movie, however, is much better. I’m glad they threw out the original story-line and wrote a whole new one (I like it when remakes do that—I don’t see much point in watching the same movie with different actors).

 

The movie is set in Blackmoor England in 1891. It tells the story of Lawrence Talbot (Benicio del Toro), an up and coming actor, who returns home to his estranged father’s (Anthony Hopkins) estate on the moor when his brother is mauled and killed by a mysterious beast. At the request of his brother’s fiancée (Emily blunt), Lawrence Talbot begins investigating the death. But at the next full moon, the werewolf strikes again, killing several people and biting Lawrence. Now, the nature of the murders has caught the attention of Scotland Yard and a suspicious investigator (Hugo Weaving) is sent in.

 

Anyway, they got quite a bit of this movie spot on. The lighting was perfect; it was creepy and gloomy and just suggestive of the surreal darkness of Blackmoor, England. The settings, too, were exceptional. The old mansion; the simple village; the barbaric and primitive sanitarium. Even the special effects were superb. Of course, with computers nowadays they can do just about anything. The test, I think, is, whether or not they overdo it. Although there was a bit too much gore, perhaps, I thought the special effects were well done and quite fitting. The transformation of the werewolf was entertaining and realistic (as realistic as a transformation can be) to watch.

 

I was disappointed, however, with the battle between the two werewolves at the end. With all the care that they obviously put into this movie—the gloom, the setting, the special effects—I was annoyed with the cheesiness of the final showdown. It was too Hollywood and could have been done much better.

 

Still, overall, I thought it was an exceptional movie. At least, it was good enough to buy. I’ll give it four out of five stars.