THE WOLF’S KNOCKING AT YOUR DOOR? - Fear FestEVIL
Kirk Hammett (Metallica) howls at the moon this month, discussing his love for Werewolf movies and more, in his horror blog.
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THE WOLF’S KNOCKING AT YOUR DOOR?

Werewolf Kirk Hammett

04 May THE WOLF’S KNOCKING AT YOUR DOOR?

Hey everyone,

I think it’s time for me to say right here, in print, that I love werewolf movies. Ever since the original Wolf Man, I have loved them because werewolves occupy a unique space of their own. Not quite the undead, not quite vampirish, not necessarily a sinister or malevolent presence, just werewolves. One thing I find in a lot of cases, is that there’s also always a thread of remorse from the person who’s actually a werewolf, so it’s a thing with werewolf movies where the emotions are never straight-forward.
There’s something to be said about turning into a creature against your will with only your base emotions driving things. I think the analogy is that we all have this monster inside of us that can either involuntarily, out of necessity or maybe even survival, surface and take over who we are. I think it goes way, way back to our primal selves, and recognizing the wolves as being similar animals to us. Extremely intelligent animals, good hunters, strategic, sharp, and doing what they have to do to survive. And I think a lot of the legends and mythology around wolves are based around the fear that they’re too much like us. Certainly, you know, they talk about that in Roman times and medieval Europe, and the ultimate conclusion of that is a human making the anthropological leap over to the lupine side, hence lycanthropy. It’s very clear when you look at the past how this mythology of werewolves is a strong part of Western culture. And I love that that kind of awareness of wolves, I love that it’s been adopted by literature and turned into a genre unto itself.
There is one kind of werewolf which I’ve always been a bigger sucker for than others, the reluctant werewolf, and American Werewolf in London is a really great example of that angle of storytelling. It’s highly dramatic! He (David Naughton) gets bit by a wolf, and all of a sudden things start going horribly sideways for him. When we see that first transformation, I think it’s one of the greatest ever moments of werewolf cinema. The look on his face when he’s staring at his hand morphing into a wolf hand, and he’s screaming in pain, screaming with agony, he’s probably screaming in shock, surprise, anger, frustration. It really encapsulates what it must feel like to make the change from primate to lupine, and is one of the best representations of that transformation process.


We all look forward to the transformation process in the werewolf movies, I know I do, and if it isn’t a good transformation scene, well then I feel short-changed! They’ve certainly changed over the years, but the classic ones were pretty great too. In the classic Wolf Man movie with Lon Chaney, they didn’t have a lot to work with back then make-up or prosthetic wise, and special effects in general were still a new field. Yet it was still so effective, just like all the wolf man transformations that happened in the ‘40s, considering what they were working with. I am lucky enough to own a test shot wolfman ‘head’ for Lon Chaney Jr from the Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. It’s a make-up test ‘bust’ for it, and I think it might have even been screen used for a long shot or something. And that is one of the most prized possessions in my collection because of the significance of it and also because, you know, it’s a werewolf!

Kirk Hammett Wolfman

Wolfman Test Bust (1948)
Kirk Hammett Collection

 

I also have to note The Company of Wolves, Neil Jordan’s film. The transformation scene that shows the woman with her mouth open and the wolf snout coming out of her mouth? That right there is such a great, great visual.

Kirk Hammett Werewolves

Something else of huge significance I need to mention. There’s a movie from 1947 called Return of the Vampire with Bela Lugosi, and there’s a werewolf in that movie. So? What’s significant you ask? Well, it’s a talking werewolf. It’s a real, bona fide talking werewolf in 1947! Up to that point, werewolves were portrayed as vicious, snarling, gnashing, savage beasts. And this one, it’s a talking werewolf wearing a pinstripe suit, and he’s basically an assistant to Lugosi’s vampire.

Kirk Hammett Werewolves

I love the fact that he actually has dialogue in this movie and, again, he strikes a very reluctant stance as a werewolf. It’s a really big point in werewolf cinema, and the decision to let the werewolf talk in that movie was a pretty adventurous one. And then you don’t see talking werewolves for a while, up until fucking Dark Shadows, and that werewolf would eventually utter two or three words here or there. But the best talking vampire in the world is, again, from An American Werewolf in London. Or is it Eddie from The Howling, where he says, ‘I’m gonna give you a piece of my mind’ and he pulls out a piece of his brain and gives it to the guy. Maybe it is Eddie…


There are so many great werewolf movies, and some of them are pretty crazy even for werewolf movies. I love Dog Soldiers! It’s just great, you know, any time you get a scenario with a bunch of werewolves, how cool is that? The single reluctant werewolf scenario is always cool, it always generates a lot of pathos and empathy, but there’s also a great synergy when you have a bunch of werewolves together. There’s also that recent British movie Howl. Then, of course I have to mention it again, Wolf Cop, where there’s a bevy of werewolves. There’s just something about seeing a bunch of werewolves together that to me is like totally great, in fact to use a word I rarely use, awesome.
Don’t ignore Werewolf of London with Henry Hull, 1935. There’s a great, really different looking werewolf and then there’s Oliver Reed in Curse of the Werewolf. What’s amazing about that, is that Oliver Reed’s werewolf is based on what I ‘think’ a timber wolf/ timber werewolf would be. It’s not a really fuzzy, dark and dark furred werewolf. He has gray points to him, much like a timber wolf. And so you know, I love the fact that The Curse of the Werewolf is based more on the timber wolf than, you know, your usual stock in trade wolf. And I gotta say, that make-up is brilliant and Oliver Reed did a great job.

Kirk Hammett Werewolf
But again, all werewolves are great. Werewolves of pathos? Love it. Werewolves as vicious beasts who are satanic creatures? Love it. Militant werewolves? Love it. Werewolves are, ultimately, much more interesting to me than, say, zombies. And I know I might be pissing people off by saying that but I’ll go on record to say that werewolves are just really, really fucking, interesting and I like the capacity and the range of emotion that werewolves tend to possess in these stories, you know? Whereas with zombies, you take a lot of themes and emotions from the victim or the protagonist, but a zombie’s generally a zombie. Stuff like I, Zombie showed some promise in terms of shifting the direction of zombies to maybe having more dimension, but for decades of cinema I think we can safely say that zombies have generally always been zombies whereas werewolves have come in many styles and shapes.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start channeling your inner-werewolf now!

See ya soon,

Kirk Hammett Signature

p.s. I nearly forgot, special special SPECIAL mention for my good friend Ozzy Osbourne and his pretty great werewolf in the Bark At The Moon video. In fact, Ozzy proves my point that we all have a werewolf inside us because to this very day you can still hear him howling occasionally at his gigs! Right on Ozzy!

24 Comments
  • Phil Earles
    Posted at 13:19h, 04 May

    Stephen King’s Silver Bullet is my all time favorite. I love it!

  • Kamil Wiśniewski
    Posted at 15:06h, 04 May

    Wow, that is one hell of a scary statue in your crypt Mr. Hammett. I personally like vampires the most, werewolves come in the second place though ?, i whish they could make a new creepy vampire movie like the old ones. Not that romance, emotional thingy.

  • Mike Stanton
    Posted at 15:18h, 04 May

    As much as I’d love more Metallica related horror stuff, I really enjoy actually learning about obscure horror from Kirk.

    It’s cool to get insight from a guitar god about things that aren’t necessarily guitar or Metallica stuff. Thanks Kirk, you rule!

  • Ben DeSpain
    Posted at 15:24h, 04 May

    Kirk you may not know me but im your aunt Sue’s oldest boy .Good to know i have a famous cousin !! ROCK ON !!!!!!!

  • Kelly
    Posted at 15:28h, 04 May

    The Howling, Dog Soldiers and Ginger Snaps Back are a few of my favorite Werewolf movies.
    Werewolves are the best, dude have you ever read the book about real modern day werewolf encounters? That shit will make ya nervous lol.

  • Teresa Cheryl Evans
    Posted at 16:51h, 04 May

    Ir’s SO cool that you love them! When all was right w/my world (fifth grade) there was a guy who sat in front of me that was the total monster fanatic. I was introduced to the Monster Magazine and from there the monster models and monster play among the huge boulders in my Jones Valley neighborhood were a regular evening .I LOVED Boris’ Karloff’s Mummy, Lon Chaney’s Werewolf, but Phantom of the Opera scared me the most. Bela’s Dracula was the most intense as well. The other vampires were just sex fiends to me.

  • Raquel Hove
    Posted at 18:05h, 04 May

    I recently watched Silver Bullet, what an awesome movie! But I also like following the “Lycan” story in Len Wiseman’s Underworld movies.

  • Heather Cordes
    Posted at 18:28h, 04 May

    I love True Blood although that is probably not as scary as you like it. Great casting and great story. Anyhow I just wanted to sign up for the Newsletter and it said I had to leave a comment….so here’s my comment…
    You are the best! :0)

    • Heather Cordes
      Posted at 18:30h, 04 May

      What about the wolf in Michael Jackson’s Thriller? Do you like that one as well? Just curious.

      • Tracy Paseman
        Posted at 17:59h, 08 May

        After Michael Jackson saw An American Werewolf in London , and Rick Baker’s incredible make-up work during the scenes when the lead character morphs into a werewolf, Michael hired Rick Baker to do the spectacular Thriller video.

  • Rick Linus
    Posted at 18:54h, 04 May

    The transformation in The Company of Wolves is still my favorite!
    While we are on the subject of werewolves and rock n roll, check out this Chicago band https://www.facebook.com/MexicanWerewolf/

    Cheers!

  • Stephanie Zink
    Posted at 23:47h, 04 May

    Great blog! I too, have always been a fan of Werewolves. The first time I saw An American Werewolf in London, when his legs and ankles snapped into place – I may have been 11 at that time – I was mesmerized!

  • V.R. McAdams
    Posted at 00:35h, 05 May

    METALLICA- [ OF Wolf And Man ] lyrics- …Bright is the moon, high in starlight
    Chill in the air cold as steel tonight
    We shift
    Call of the wild
    Fear in your eyes
    It’s later than you realized…
    Another great METALLICA song.
    (^_^) Kirk just started reading your cool blogs….You likke crazy hong kong kung fu movies? Check out Legend Of The Liquid Sword and DEMONESS FROM THOUSAND YEARS.
    Saw these here in bay area on 38.2 sino tv. Around 3:25 p.m. Saturday and sunday. Mostly the movies are reaally lame but will surprise viewers with funny crazy movies randomly.

  • Jesper Rasmussen
    Posted at 11:57h, 05 May

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=LtH7l-dhHZQ you totally forgot This guy, Kirk!!

  • Bob O'Rourke
    Posted at 12:04h, 05 May

    Yes! Great read again Kirk! Hands down, my all-time favorite werewolf movies are definitely The Howling tied with An American Werewolf In London! Both of those — specifically The Howling — scared the hell out of me as a kid!! I have very vivid memories of the first time I saw The Howling at my older cousin’s house….hell, just Pino Donaggio’s music over the end credits alone still makes me uneasy to this day! I’m with on the original The Wolf Man and Curse of the Werewolf (Hammer RULES), too; depending on the day, either one tops the other for me. Dog Soldiers was probably the last great werewolf movie that I’ve seen . . . haven’t seen Howl yet, though, but it’s on the list! Have you seen Ginger Snaps? The first one (and its first sequel) is a pretty great with an interesting twist on lycanthropy as a metaphor for puberty in teenage girls . . . very cool and a neat twist on the genre!

  • Rico Reyes
    Posted at 16:50h, 05 May

    I agree wolves are the best much better than the typical zombie flick, more dimensional. I love werewolf flicks. Haven’t seen a few of these wolf flicks been meaning to check out Wolf Cop seems cheesy but I’m gonna take your word that its worth a watch. Ok here is one of my all time favorite wolves even better than the Werewolf in London, nobody laugh its gonna seem lame at first, but if you have watched it you will know what I mean when I say this is a great wolf. It was the wolf in “The Never ending Story” its name was Gmork. Man this wolf scared the shit out of my days and nights for a long time when I was a kid. I would watch it just waiting in anticipation for the appearance of Gmork. Totally awesome, check it out if you haven’t yet Kirk…oh and btw he was A TALKING WOLF TOO!!!!!!

  • Kelly Dotson
    Posted at 14:36h, 06 May

    Another great read. Right now on ELREY The Howling is on. Next is An American Werewolf in London. WTF !!! I have to thank you for reacquainting me with these awesome movies. I’ve watched several you’ve suggested, some new to me and some not, but it is a cool ride down memory lane. Looking forward to you next post.

  • Marc Restivo
    Posted at 23:19h, 06 May

    Another very fun, well-written entry Kirk! It’s been raining off and on for days here in Maryland, and in my mind’s eye I can just see the Lon Chaney Wolf Man skulking around on a misty night like this. I love werewolf movies because, almost by definition, they have incredible atmosphere. My faves are: An American Werewolf in London, The Howling, and of course the 1941 Wolf Man…

  • Tracy Paseman
    Posted at 17:37h, 08 May

    Kirk, I recently finished a great novel about a werewolf, set in modern-day San Francisco, ” The Bones of the Barbary Coast ” by Daniel Hecht.

    During a remodel of a Victorian home , strange wolfman-like skeletal remains are found in the basement, and sent to Berkeley for study.
    A long-time veteran detective of the SFPD enlists the help of his niece, Cree Black, who is a parapsychologist and clinical psychiatrist.

    A strange and mysterious radiologist, with a facial deformity, is also involved, and he likes running with his dogs late at night through the woods of the Bay Area,
    let’s say a little TOO much.

    Cree finds a diary in the Victorian and learns a great deal about the mysterious bones and who they belonged to back in the 19th century.

    I myself recently lived in Marin County and hung out in the City for a couple years, and I loved how this author eloquently paints SF.

    I love An American Werewolf In London, too, it’s both scary and funny, and I love how all the songs are about the moon !
    My favorite scene is when he’s sitting in the porno theater, and his mutilated victims are suggesting ways for him to kill himself !
    It’s a riot !

  • Larry LaBrie
    Posted at 20:27h, 09 May

    Werewolves have been my favorite since I was a kid, reading stories with Man-Wolf in Amazing Spider-man comics, and watching the Wolfen, American.., and Howling. I have always been fascinated with them; I even thought the way the wolf pack is handled in the Twilight books was cool. Call me crazy. The NA myth as a backdrop was cool. Another NA myth that’s somewhat in the same vein, perhaps, that I’m trying to find more material on is that of the Wendigo. Yes, there’s a Wendigo in Marvel comics, and I was introduced to it there, but Algernon Blackwood’s short story the Wendigo is intense. there’s a couple movies with Wendigo curse in it as well.

    Kirk, off the werewolf subject (and a righteous subject it is); do you know much about the Wendigo or any films regarding it.

    Cheers,
    Larry

  • Ivan Starostenko
    Posted at 19:43h, 13 May

    I simply adore The Werewolf of London and The Wolf Man)

  • V.R. MCADAMS
    Posted at 08:03h, 05 June

    HI!!!!! Kirk (^_^) Rock legend Alice Cooper launches hunt for massive werewolf…lol lol lol (-_~)

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/rock-legend-alice-cooper-launches-8088552

  • Ray S
    Posted at 07:22h, 29 June

    What!?… No “TEEN WOLF” props??? You gotta love a werewolf that can dunk….

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