The Beast Within
by, 07-13-2011 at 01:12 PM (1079 Views)
I have always been drawn to werewolf stories. The idea of the shapeshifter intrigues me, but a werewolf is typically a tragic figure more than anything else. At first, it seems very cool. Every full moon the werewolf metamorphoses into a powerful beast, seemingly invulnerable to all but silver.
The thing is, this is a curse, not a gift. The werewolf, by his very nature, is separated from mankind by the beast within. Worse, the victims will inevitably be those he loves. Therein lies the curse.
I've seen some modern versions of the werewolf tale where the transformation is under the control of the human and so is the wolf. Robert R. Mcammon wrote the best one I have ever read in The Wolf's Hour. Easily the best WWII Nazi fighting werewolf story. You want to have a haunt that blends genres? Forget vampire Apocalypse and go to WWII werewolves!
Stories like that sometimes focus on the isolation aspect of the curse, with the werewolf living in isolation or constantly on the move like Kwai Chang Caine. Like Kwai Chang though, they are more like a hero. They are in control of a power they can use for good. The tragic werewolf is more like the Hulk. (Who grew up watching too much TV in the 70s and 80s?) He walks alone because he is afraid to hurt those he loves - or because he already has. He is afraid -or unable- to die, and thus is condemned to a life of loneliness and fear.
Nicholas Pekaro's "The Wolfman" is a tragic werewolf with a twist - he killed his fiancée and thus lives the unmoored life of a vagabond - but he has discovered that he can "aim" the wolf at evil and it will do his will. Usually. That is a fascinating thing to me. Pekaro died after writing the novel, but hopefully his ideas live on in others.
So, how to put this into a haunt? Well, of course you can have a werewolf running around, or chained up, or put his head on a wall. You could turn that ridiculous wireframe animated deer into a wolf. Noble pursuits, all. But what about the transformation itself? That's where the horror of the curse begins, right? Here's an idea using video:
This video gave me an idea. It may be satisfying to project or otherwise create a transformation in silhouette on a prop window, then have an actor come through the window or at least tear the curtain aside and howl. Of course, if you have a video like the one shown, you could always have an actor jump out of hiding after the video transformation.
I have a thought about making the transformation happen in full view, but I'm not sure how to make it work with an actor.
It occurs to me that it would be possible to make a latex human mask with an open and flexible mouth. For some reason, I picture this as Little Red Riding hood. Behind the mask is a wolf's head prop. At the right time, the muzzle of the mask is pushed through the mouth opening - probably with a lot of screaming.
I'm not sure how to make this happen on an actor, or even the precise design of the human face that would let this happen more than once. I think it could be done though. If it was a prop that had moving arms (or allowed an actor to put her arms through the sleeves), I think it would be possible to create a little scene where you see the girl start to change, then "she" covers her face and drops out of sight...at which point the werewolf in the same clothes appears and terrorizes the people. Remember how David Banner always conveniently landed behind a table or something to change in to the Hulk? Something like that.
You could do a whole "story haunt" about a single werewolf's curse, or a village cursed by such a beast. For now, I am particularly interested in just that one scene - a glimpse into the terror of living with a curse that separates the victim not only from mankind, but from their very humanity.