In the past month I have researched werewolf lore, for articles on this site and others, in anticipation of the release of The Wolfman. On Monday, I saw the new film, and long story short, I didn't like it. But having spent all of this time reading synopses and watching films and scanning various stories about werewolves, I have realized that they just aren't very interesting to me.
Unlike vampires, creatures I'm comparatively just flat-out tired of seeing on film, werewolves are pretty one-dimensional monsters: vampirism can be a metaphor for any number of subjects or ideas, but other than a physical manifestation of "the beast within," and a quite literal one at that, lycanthropy basically seems to exist to create scenarios where people get their throats torn out, and special-effects men can stage elaborate transformation sequences. The human protagonists are almost invariably lovestruck and tortured by the curse of their transformation, and seldom end their lupine adventures with a particularly cheerful or upbeat resolution.
Universal Studios is releasing the new film Friday, and on February 2, 2010, their Home Entertainment department released the 1941 The Wolf Man on DVD in a two-disc Special Edition. In an effort to pinpoint what it is that I don't like, or maybe just what I'm not getting about the appeal of werewolves as an iconic horror monster, I decided to make that film the subject of this week's "Shelf Life."