Category: Pop Culture

“Hunting the Hound of Cold Hollow” short film explores the werewolves of northern Vermont

A. Quinton — Sep. 20th 2018

“It’s a werewolf. It’s not like it’s some crazy monster… it’s just a werewolf.” For me, this is the take-away quote from freelance journalist J.D. Thompson’s short film Hunting the Hound of Cold Hollow.

Thompson put the 25-minute film together to capture his experience “working for Playboy on a story investigating a weird little part of America where the locals still believe in werewolves.” The premise he explores in the short film (and the article itself) is that werewolves are responsible for dozens of disappearances and deaths along the Vermont / Quebec border.

This is not a detective story and I think that’s just as well – I imagine the real causes of the disappearances are a far more banal class of evil than French-Canadian lycanthropes. Rather, the film’s focus is the nervous enthusiasm the interviewed locals have for the idea that they might have secret werewolves among their neighbours. The pervasive vibe from the subjects interviewed, and the interviewer himself, is a low-key “we all want this to be true, right?”

The article, “Werewolves Are Definitely Not Real… Right?”, was published in Playboy in October 2015. You can find a reprint on the “Cold Hollow” web site, but I recommend watching the short film first. It’s expertly made, with lots of excellent interview and location footage intercut with stock drone shots of the region’s foggy, snowy forests.

Are the werewolves of Vermont real? Thompson draws no conclusions on the matter, but he seems to say (and I will explicitly state) that many of us would be delighted if they did exist, especially if they continued to spend their full moon time chasing cars for fun, and less time murdering hikers.

SDCC pop-up shop debuts limited-edition, low-appeal “The Wolf Man” shoes

A. Quinton — Jul. 20th 2018

If you’re at San Diego Comic Con this weekend and you have no taste and cash to waste, why not line up at the “Boodega Monstore” (701 Eighth Ave, San Diego, CA 9210) for a chance to buy a Super7 / Saucony / Universal Monsters triple-co-branded “The Wolf Man” shoe?

Combining high cost ($95), artificial scarcity (only 12 pairs per size [7 through 13] exist), and zero werewolf design aesthetics other than colours referenced from a character who debuted in a black and white film, this shoe is presumably precision-crafted to appeal to sneakerheads (maybe) and Universal Monsters fans who don’t have to justify their expenditures to anyone.

Saucony makes good gear, or so I’m told, so they’ll probably be comfortable shoes to wear, but these things are utterly unremarkable in appearance, particularly in comparison to the other Universal Monster shoes (thank you, Daily Dead) at the Boodega pop-up shop. At least the other shoes have some graphical elements. These have all the visual appeal of an overripe avocado. The high price and the artificial scarcity are in keeping with the nature of SDCC collectibles, I guess, but I just can’t imagine anyone getting excited to line up for what seems like a deeply cynical cash-grab.

I’m mad about the shoes. What an overpriced waste of an opportunity to do something new, fun and interesting with the dorkiest werewolf intellectual property ever.

I finally found the Sawbones episode about lycanthropy (and other Halloween diseases)

A. Quinton — Jul. 17th 2018

I’ve been listening through the backlog of Sawbones, a informative and darkly funny medical history podcast hosted by Dr. Sydnee McElroy and her husband Justin. Last year they talked about the full moon and its connection to clinical weirdness, including werewolves, but way back in 2015 the show got even more lycan-specific. In the episode “Aah, Real Monsters!” Sydnee and guest host Rileigh Smirl (Sydnee’s younger sister, subbing for Justin and crushing it) discuss “the Halloween diseases” – werewolfism and vampirism.

This isn’t just a recounting of the Wikipedia entries for hypertrichosis and ergot poisoning. In typical Sawbones fashion, Sydnee presents an insightful and cogent history of lycanthropy and porphyria – including a surprisingly compassionate recap of Peter Stumpp‘s story. Rileigh provides enthusiastic and delightfully pro-werewolf colour commentary, and influences the episode’s vibe in such a way that “having a real disease” comes off as a bad situation, but “being a Halloween monster” is extremely good. That’s as fine a Sawbones conclusion as any they’ve reached in all the episodes I’ve heard.

You can hear the episode here, or find it in the Sawbones archive, available via Apple Podcasts or whichever podcasting app you like.

Sorry, football fans! That scary werewolf suit is not a new team mascot

A. Quinton — Jul. 13th 2018

Everyone else in the world seems to be hyped about the World Cup, but for the past four days, the only football chatter I saw online was about was the new would-be mascot for Lobos BUAP, a team in Mexico’s Liga MX.

Photos and videos of this absolute lad started circulating on Twitter earlier this week. Without researching its provenance – I don’t know Spanish and I just assumed it was a cool Underworld Lycan / Dog Soldiers mashup costume someone wore to a convention – I tweeted a dumb quip and moved on. Then word started spreading on Twitter and in the media that this was actually a controversial new mascot for Lobas BUAP, whose previous mascot designs had been a bit more conventional.

I love this bit of editorializing from La Verdad [translated from Spanish]:

The primary objective of having a mascot is to capture the affinity of the little ones and to be able to interact with the fans in the stadiums, but the new Lobos BUAP team mascot has generated controversy due to its fear-giving aspect, having a height of almost two meters.

I can only speak for myself, but seeing a two-meter-tall werewolf roaming the crowd at a stadium when I was a little one would have made me a football fanatic for life.

News sources couldn’t pin down whether this horror-centric new design was a gimmick or a longer-term change established for the duration of Torneo Apertura 2018. That’s because the whole “new mascot” story was a misunderstanding that got blown out of proportion as football and pop culture sites repeated it. According to an article posted to Mileno today [translated from Spanish]:

The supposed werewolf mascot that went viral in social networks is nothing more than a project separate from the professional team, since its developers were only visiting the University Stadium.

The suit is actually a project by brothers Erick and Ivan Olarte, pictured above with their family. The latter is an architect who graduated from UAP, and he and his brother created the suit in their spare time for the sake of the challenge. The Olarte brothers have worn “Licaon” – as the suit is called – to a variety of events in the past few years, and while the media attention of the past week has been a wild experience, they are already setting their sites on their next project.

Disappointed? I am too, a little, but I also personally find “two brothers made a radical animatronic werewolf suit in their garage” a more exciting story than “football team tries to psych out its competitors by terrorizing fans”.

La Sportiva Lycan – the shoe for werewolf trail runners

A. Quinton — Jul. 3rd 2018

My first post in a month and a half and it’s about a piece of gear related to one of the several things that have kept me otherwise occupied – trail running! (a post about the other big thing that ate my late spring is coming later today).

Yes, I’ve been getting deep into trail running as a way to keep fit, balance out all the time I spend staring at screens, and enjoy the mountainous coastal rainforest I live in (prime werewolf turf). One of the most prominent and trusted voices in the sport, Ethan Newberry (aka The Ginger Runner), just posted a video review of a product that made me realize it was time to overcome the self-annoyance of not having been here in a bit: outdoor gear company La Sportiva’s got a new trail shoe called the Lycan. Says the company:

The Lycan is the ideal Mountain Running® Shoe for training on off-road, rocky terrain where long-lasting sticky rubber and good shock absorption is needed.

Why they think “mountain running” is a registered trademark is beyond me, but I’ll give them a pass because they named a damned shoe after the Underworld-coined term for “werewolf”. Nothing about the shoe’s marketing explains why they went with that name, but as Ethan’s video (linked here, embedded below) and a variety of other online reviews indicate, the shoe does have some werewolfy traits: it’s hard, fast, unforgiving, nimble, grippy, and maybe a little bit bulky. I even like the design, although it seems like they missed an opportunity to add a fur pattern or some other indicator of dangerous animality to the print.

It comes in men’s and women’s styling, with two different colourways for each, and retails for $115 USD. There are places online to order a pair for yourself, but if you’re in the market for something as niche as a running shoe built for trails, you probably already have a go-to merchant where you can try them on. I certainly do, and I’ll be checking them out as soon as I’ve worn out my current shoes.

Vampires, werewolves, female CEOs, tight rubber pants and plasticine: a video

A. Quinton — May. 2nd 2018

There’s a great new animation making the rounds that explores the age-old battle between vampires and werewolves from some novel new angles.

To quote @EvilViergacht, who sent me the link, VvWW contains “Werewolves, hairy female werewolves, vampires in rubber pants, and butts.” That list has a near-perfect overlap with the terms people are searching for when they arrive here at Werewolf News, but this video presents a more cogent analysis of those subjects than I ever could. See for yourself:

safetyhammer (who goes by No-One Suspected the Cat on Facebook) did the animation, writing and voice work, and the incomparable Trudy Cooper (who also makes the comic Oglaf – maybe the most NSFW site I’ve ever linked to, but very good also) did the artwork.

By the way, I agree with every assertion made in this video, and you can quote me.

Great werewolf transformation in Google Cloud / NCAA micro-advert

A. Quinton — Mar. 13th 2018

Friend of the site John Dillard sent me this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it video ad for Google Cloud, featuring an animated werewolf transformation and a pertinent bit of college basketball trivia. It’s onscreen for less than two seconds but I think it’s a perfect transformation scene. The only way it could be improved is if the lycanthropic basketball player’s jersey number was “42” instead of “4”.

“Dust” introduces werewolves, vampires, cashews & terrifying dolls to The Adventure Zone canon

A. Quinton — Mar. 3rd 2018

Do you know what The Adventure Zone is?

If you answered “no” but you like great audio storytelling, may I suggest jumping in at the setup episode for this current arc? It’s a long-running actual play roleplaying podcast by a family of funny, thoughtful and inclusive writers/actors. If you start at the link above, no prior knowledge of the show is required.

After the conclusion of their years-long main arc, “Balance”, the McElroy boys (Justin, Travis and Griffin of MBMBaM fame) and their dad (Clint) are taking turns running short 5- or 6-episode campaigns as a way to narrow down their next long-form story. This is the second-to-last mini-arc, and as much as I’m looking forward to a longer adventure, each of these has been superb (Clint even made me like “tights and fights” superheroes with “Commitment“).

If you are familiar with The Adventure Zone, then you probably already know that Travis’s new arc “Dust” just started, and it’s high in lycanthrope content. The western / supernatural crime procedural continues TAZ’s trend of storytelling excellence. Griffin plays Errol Ryehouse, a permanently-half-transformed werewolf. He’s an excitable politician who leans into his semi-lycanthrope status with enthusiasm as he strives to protect his neighbourhood from crime, vampires, and bad zoning laws. There’s also Gandy Dancer (an orphaned magic user played by Clint) and Augustus Parsons (an asshole and cashew magnate ghost played by Justin). The story so far involves a murder investigation that starts at midnight and which must be concluded by 8 a.m. the next morning, lest the werewolves and vampires of the territory take matters into their own hands.

The first episode of gameplay came out March 1st and it’s really, really good. Future episodes will arrive every Thursday around 11am Pacific. You can subscribe in Apple Podcasts, or in the podcast app of your choice using the direct feed.

Trying to enumerate why The Adventure Zone deserves your attention – especially if you’re not usually into roleplaying podcasts, roleplaying, or podcasts – is too big a job for me to tackle in a single blog post. The show packs a ton of story into each episode, making it hard to provide an overview that remains both comprehensive and interesting to people who aren’t already listening. All I can do is recommend it as ardently and sincerely as any other thing I’ve posted about on this web site in the past 10 years: please listen to The Adventure Zone.

To close out this post, here’s a tiny sample of Twitter fan art depicting Errol, Gandy and Augustus. #TheZoneCast fans are prolific (there were over 40 pieces of art of these characters posted in the eight days since the arc started) and I love popping into that hashtag every now and then to see how characters are being portrayed.

The Onion: “Gruesome Werewolf Slayings” moves cities to outlaw hollow-point silver bullets

A. Quinton — Feb. 12th 2018

Exactly one month after an article about a local asshole who has a better reputation as a werewolf than as a human, the Onion is back at it again with another werewolf post.

“There is simply no place on our streets for ammunition with the destructive capability to blow off a werewolf’s entire head in one blast,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler, who was moved to champion the bill after the brutal December slaying of beloved physical education teacher and nightwalking loup-garou Davis Johnstone.

The short article is great satire and refreshingly pro-werewolf, but the accompanying image (rather graphic, despite being a stock composite) is funny and weirdly heartbreaking in a way The Onion has mastered.

The Onion: “Townsfolk Strongly Prefer Man’s Werewolf Incarnation”

A. Quinton — Jan. 12th 2018

According to locals, blacksmith Hans Meyer sucks real bad, and everyone wishes he would just remain a terrifying human-wolf hybrid.

“We may lose a few sheep or cattle every month, but it’s worth it to get a break from that guy’s constant bitching,” said candlemaker Fritz Hermann, adding that at least when Meyer is a werewolf he doesn’t have that annoying laugh.

I love The Onion so much.