Those of you who have been reading for a while have probably figured out my carefully hidden obsession with the lore of werewolves and other shapeshifters so I offer this little byte to prove that I am not without humor and that I am a stone folklore geek.
**Places tongue firmly in cheek**
I do not watch TV. My cable is internet access only and, if there is something I want to watch, I have to see if I can find it online. Nevertheless, since I started getting Google Alerts for anything with the keyword ‘werewolf’, I have been forced to note that there are some shows out there with werewolves in them.
One of the ones that keeps popping up is something called “Being Human”. From what I have been able to gather, the premise of this show is that a ghost, a vampire and a werewolf share a home and are trying to live under the radar amongst human beings. Now, I have not seen the show so I do not know what the story line is but I want to make it perfectly clear that no self respecting werewolf would ever share space with a vampire. Ghosts are okay since they are disembodied people (or so some believe) but a vampire is another thing altogether.
Some magical traditions see a vampire as a person who has decided not to undergo the second death (the dissolution of the subtler levels of the human ‘personality’) and has developed magical means to draw vitality from unwilling subjects to keep this from happening once their physical body dies. I’m not sure what vampire mythos the show uses but, in almost all the folkloric tales, the vampire is a dead person, reanimated in some way, who rises from the grave to prey on human blood.
And herein, lies the rub with having a vampire and a werewolf co-habitating. Apex predators are notoriously territorial. No matter how we view a vampire, it is a predator driven to prey on human beings.
A werewolf would not tolerate such a creature in its territory for two reasons. First, the werewolf spends a considerable amount of time in human form and, therefore, the vampire represents a threat to the human part of the wolf. Second, the werewolf in its wolf form would be loathe to share territory, much less personal space, with another predator. Werewolves might not prey exclusively on humans but, if the opportunity for a snack happens by, I am sure they are not too fussy about what flesh they eat, especially after the high calorie burn of the Change. No wolf is going to allow another predator to encroach on its hunting ground.
And let’s not even talk about the smell of an undead ‘person’, cloying in the werewolf’s nostrils all the time. It would be an affront to the werewolf’s vaunted hyper-senses. So, next time you are cruising the channels, and you come across a show where a werewolf is hanging out with vampires, take the whole thing with a grain of salt.
**shift to rant mode**
No matter what the popular culture may be trying to pass off, the vampires and werewolves rarely intersect in the lore. They are two entirely separate and distinct legends and there is very little that dovetails the two creatures together. The only intersection between these two “races” that I can think of is the Eastern European legend that a werewolf, once dead, must be buried in a manner that would keep the former wolf from rising as a vampire. Given that the area was, apparently, infested with vampires at one time, this seems to me to be more of a cautionary note than anything else. Better safe than sorry.
I have not made an extensive study of the pop culture desire to put vampires and werewolves in the same room, often competing for the same damsel (no contest in my view – who would choose a cold blooded bloodsucker over a nice hot blooded wolf?) but it seems to me that we might start looking at the 1930’s horror classics for a clue on how things got so bollixed up.
Do not get me going on the silliness promulgated on both the vampire and werewolf in movies of that time. There was a perfectly good body of scary as hell lore to work from for both creatures but, instead, they chose to listen to Bram Stoker and his repressed Victorian musings for the vampire and created myths about the werewolf from thin air. Once they had done scaring people with one monster and then the other, what could be better than putting the two (or more) together?
Given that there was almost always at least one maiden with a heaving bosom in these movies whose sole purpose seemed to be to scream and faint fetchingly, it is not a long jump to the more modern TV shows and books that turn the heaving bosom to erotic or semi-erotic purpose and turn the scares of the early films into the contest for the fair damsel in the later works. At its worst, this turns into paranormal porn that sells like crazy and leaves people like me who actually enjoy the myths and legends that surround these beings (werewolves, in my case) tearing their hair out.
I realize that writers take liberties with folklore all the time. If I should ever be in a position to do so, I am going to push someone into making a movie with real werewolf lore as a base. Plenty of great scary stories out there to be mined if people are willing to look; instead, we are getting remakes and reboots of television shows that were awful the first time.