CLOSE
Original image

7 Modern Werewolves You Need To Know

Original image

Time to get in the mood for Halloween! While werewolves predate Greek mythology, the story of Lycaon is still one of the earliest examples of a man shapeshifting into an anthropomorphic wolf-like creature. If you recall, Lycaon was transformed into a wolf after eating human flesh. Skip ahead to our times and shapeshifters abound on big and small screens everywhere. Here are seven you need to know.

1. Wilfred Glendon

Werewolf of London, released in 1935, is one of the first werewolf movies and one of the first depiction of werewolves as we know them now: bipedal monsters who are affected by the moon. While in Tibet searching for a mysterious plant, Wilfred Glendon (Henry Hull), a botanist, is attacked by a werewolf. All the basic werewolf mythology is there. Glendon turns into a wolf under the full moon and becomes a vicious killer. However, in this version, lycanthropy can be temporary cured by the same plant he happened to gather in Tibet. Convenient, eh? The wolf designs are basic and don’t do much to obscure the human features, but makeup artist Jack Pierce’s look became the foundation for all subsequent werewolf depictions on the big and smalls screen.

2. Larry Talbot

Six years later, Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.) is bitten by a werewolf (Bela Lugosi) while killing it with a silver walking stick in The Wolf Man. It was the first time that silver was used as a weapon against werewolves. The wolf makeup, also done by Jack Pierce, evolved a bit, creating a less human, hairier monster. Although Talbot dies in the original, the wolf man appears in a few other films, including Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein, where Talbot is desperate to find and kill Frankenstein’s monster and Dracula. And in the land of denial, the 2010 remake doesn’t exist.

3. David Kessler

An American Werewolf in London features David Kessler and his friend Jack, American tourists in England. After they’re attacked, Jack dies and David is turned into a werewolf. That doesn’t stop Jack from coming to David, begging him to off himself in order to stop him from killing people. David ignores the warnings, transforms, murders a bunch of people and then is shot down. Not bad for a John Landis helmed horror comedy. Unlike the Wolf Man before him, Kessler’s transformation looks more wolf than man.

Hairy fact: Rick Baker’s special effect makeup designs were the first to ever win the Academy Award for Best Makeup.

4. Scott Howard

From the frightening to the ridiculous… Teen Wolf’s Scott Howard (Michael J. Fox?) uses his genetically-inherited lycanthropy to pick up chicks and win basketball games. Is it a metaphor for puberty? A lesson about accepting who you are no matter what? A way to capitalize on the success of the Back to the Future star? The werewolf design is really just a hairy Michael J. Fox in basketball shorts. Scott Howard made way for other cheesy werewolf underdog stories like in the Canadian TV series, Big Wolf on Campus.

5. Daniel “Oz” Osbourne

In a town filled with vampires, demons and praying mantis creatures, the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was no stranger to mythical creatures with bad special effects makeup. But at least the second season addition, Oz (Seth Green) was free from much of the angst that has plagued movie werewolves. His blasé attitude toward his curse and anything else that came his way was Oz’s key character trait. Unlike many other teenage werewolf depictions, Oz was cool (he played in a band) and got the girl without ever having to take his shirt off. Todd McIntosh’s werewolf design changed from season to season, going from full wolf to a man-faced hybrid.

Hairy fact: The part of the werewolf was never actually played by Green, but rather a rotation of stunt men.

6. Remus Lupin

What werewolf list would be complete without including Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’s Remus Lupin, the poor, weary Defense against the Dark Arts teacher? In the Harry Potter universe, werewolves are common knowledge but there is a stigma to the curse. The supernatural elitism makes it difficult for Lupin to find work, even getting him fired from his teaching post. The Wolfsbane Potion helps prohibit some of the full moon side effects, much like the plant in Werewolf of London. The film’s depiction of the werewolf is CGI.

7. Bigby Wolf

In the comic book Fables, fairy tale characters come to New York City to live in their own society. Their sheriff is Bigby Wolf, formerly The Big Bad Wolf. Opposed to the normal werewolf mythology, Bigby is a wolf who’s transformed into a human, using a lycanthropy-stained knife. He doesn’t need a full moon to transform. In wolf form, he’s bigger and stronger than any opponent, although silver is a weakness. Bigby’s hair grows so often that he is forced to shave multiple times a day. His supernatural senses are so intense that he must chain smoke in order to down them out.

Oh yeah, and he’s in love with Snow White.

Original image
IFC Films
arrow
entertainment
10 Surprising Facts About The Babadook
Original image
IFC Films

In 2014, The Babadook came out of nowhere and scared audiences across the globe. Written and directed by Aussie Jennifer Kent, and based on her short film Monster, The Babadook is about a widow named Amelia (played by Kent’s drama schoolmate Essie Davis) who has trouble controlling her young son Samuel (Noah Wiseman), who thinks there’s a monster living in their house. Amelia reads Samuel a pop-up book, Mister Babadook, and Samuel manifests the creature into a real-life monster. The Babadook may be the villain, but the film explores the pitfalls of parenting and grief in an emotional way. 

“I never approached this as a straight horror film,” Kent told Complex. “I always was drawn to the idea of grief, and the suppression of that grief, and the question of, how would that affect a person? ... But at the core of it, it’s about the mother and child, and their relationship.”

Shot on a $2 million budget, the film grossed more than $10.3 million worldwide and gained an even wider audience via streaming networks. Instead of creating Babadook out of CGI, a team generated the images in-camera, inspired by the silent films of Georges Méliès and Lon Chaney. Here are 10 things you might not have known about The Babadook (dook, dook).

1. THE NAME “BABADOOK” WAS EASY FOR A CHILD TO INVENT.

Jennifer Kent told Complex that some people thought the creature’s name sounded “silly,” which she agreed with. “I wanted it to be like something a child could make up, like ‘jabberwocky’ or some other nonsensical name,” she explained. “I wanted to create a new myth that was just solely of this film and didn’t exist anywhere else.”

2. JENNIFER KENT WAS WORRIED PEOPLE WOULD JUDGE THE MOTHER.

Amelia isn’t the best mother in the world—but that’s the point. “I’m not a parent,” Kent told Rolling Stone, “but I’m surrounded by friends and family who are, and I see it from the outside … how parenting seems hard and never-ending.” She thought Amelia would receive “a lot of flak” for her flawed parenting, but the opposite happened. “I think it’s given a lot of women a sense of reassurance to see a real human being up there,” Kent said. “We don’t get to see characters like her that often.”

3. KENT AND ESSIE DAVIS TONED DOWN THE CONTENT FOR THE KID.

Noah Wiseman was six years old when he played Samuel. Kent and Davis made sure he wasn’t present for the more horrific scenes, like when Amelia tells Samuel she wishes he was the one who died, not her husband. “During the reverse shots, where Amelia was abusing Sam verbally, we had Essie yell at an adult stand-in on his knees,” Kent told Film Journal. “I didn’t want to destroy a childhood to make this film—that wouldn’t be fair.”

Kent explained a “kiddie version” of the plot to Wiseman. “I said, ‘Basically, Sam is trying to save his mother and it’s a film about the power of love.’”

4. THE FILM IS ALSO ABOUT “FACING OUR SHADOW SIDE.”

IFC Films

Kent told Film Journal that “The Babadook is a film about a woman waking up from a long, metaphorical sleep and finding that she has the power to protect herself and her son.” She noted that everybody has darkness to face. “Beyond genre and beyond being scary, that’s the most important thing in the film—facing our shadow side.”

5. THE FILM SCARED THE HELL OUT OF THE DIRECTOR OF THE EXORCIST.

In an interview with Uproxx, William Friedkin—director of The Exorcist—said The Babadook was one of the best and scariest horror films he’d ever seen. He especially liked the emotional aspect of the film. “It’s not only the simplicity of the filmmaking and the excellence of the acting not only by the two leads, but it’s the way the film works slowly but inevitably on your emotions,” he said.

6. AN ART DEPARTMENT ASSISTANT SCORED THE ROLE AS THE BABADOOK.

Tim Purcell worked in the film’s art department but then got talked into playing the titular character after he acted as the creature for some camera tests. “They realized they could save some money, and have me just be the Babadook, and hence I became the Babadook,” Purcell told New York Magazine. “In terms of direction, it was ‘be still a lot,’” he said.

7. THE MOVIE BOMBED IN ITS NATIVE AUSTRALIA.

Even though Kent shot the film in Adelaide, Australians didn’t flock to the theaters; it grossed just $258,000 in its native country. “Australians have this [built-in] aversion to seeing Australian films,” Kent told The Cut. “They hardly ever get excited about their own stuff. We only tend to love things once everyone else confirms they’re good … Australian creatives have always had to go overseas to get recognition. I hope one day we can make a film or work of art and Australians can think it’s good regardless of what the rest of the world thinks.”

8. YOU CAN OWN A MISTER BABADOOK BOOK (BUT IT WILL COST YOU). 

IFC Films

In 2015, Insight Editions published 6200 pop-up books of Mister Babadook. Kent worked with the film’s illustrator, Alexander Juhasz, who created the book for the movie. He and paper engineer Simon Arizpe brought the pages to life for the published version. All copies sold out but you can find some Kent-signed ones on eBay, going for as much as $500.

9. THE BABADOOK IS A GAY ICON.

It started at the end of 2016, when a Tumblr user started a jokey thread about how he thought the Babadook was gay. “It started picking up steam within a few weeks,” Ian, the Tumblr user, told New York Magazine, “because individuals who I presume are heterosexual kind of freaked out over the assertion that a horror movie villain would identify as queer—which I think was the actual humor of the post, as opposed to just the outright statement that the Babadook is gay.” In June, the Babadook became a symbol for Gay Pride month. Images of the character appeared everywhere at this year's Gay Pride Parade in Los Angeles.

10. DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH FOR A SEQUEL.

Kent, who owns the rights to The Babadook, told IGN that, despite the original film's popularity, she's not planning on making any sequels. “The reason for that is I will never allow any sequel to be made, because it’s not that kind of film,” she said. “I don’t care how much I’m offered, it’s just not going to happen.”

Original image
Internet Archive // Sketch the Cow
arrow
fun
Play the Sneakers Computer Press Kit from 1992
Original image
Internet Archive // Sketch the Cow

In September 1992, the computer hacking movie Sneakers hit theaters. To correspond with its launch, members of the press received a floppy disk containing a mysterious DOS program that, when launched, asked for a password. Once the reporters "hacked" their way in, they found the Sneakers Computer Press Kit. Thanks to the Internet Archive, you can play at being the film press of 1992.

It's hard to characterize exactly what this electronic press kit is. Is it a game? Sort of. It's essentially a very gentle computer hacking simulator, in which the "hacking" consists entirely of guessing passwords (complete with helpful prompts from the program itself), and the payload you discover is silly stuff like mini-biographies of Robert Redford, Dan Aykroyd, and Sidney Poitier. Still, it's a good match for the film itself, which helped set the template for Hollywood depictions of computer hacking.

A paper folder lies open on a wooden floor, with a black floppy disk on top. The folder is labeled SNEAKERS in giant red letters, as is the floppy. Inside the folder is printed material. On the right flap of the folder are instructions on how to load it.
Inside the Sneakers Computer Press Kit's paper folder. (The right flap contains installation instructions, along with a note that the studio will FedEx printed material if the user doesn't have access to a printer.)
Internet Archive // Sketch the Cow

Always remember: "My voice is my passport. Verify me." Now, get cracking on this press kit and don't be flummoxed—if you can't figure out a password right away, just wait a moment.

(Incidentally, Sneakers did also include printed materials for the press, in case they lacked a computer and/or the patience to deal with this approach. But who in the world would look at that, when they could play with this? There's also a method in the Computer Press Kit that allows the user to print out more detailed materials—provided they have a printer, and it's attached to a particular printer port on the computer.)

SECTIONS

More from mental floss studios