Friday, October 22, 2010

Just Read: The Wolfman

I’ll admit that I saw the movie on opening night, and I was really impressed with it because I like how they incorporated the gothic elements into the setting and tone of the film.  Plus, I thought that they did a great job with keeping the Wolfman to its original form (back in the Bela Lugosi days), and the fact that the lighting was really dreary and dark throughout the entire film really added to the old school feeling  of horror to me. Plus, for those of you that don’t know me, I’m in love with Anthony Hopkins so that says enough.  But when it all comes down to it I realized three very important things when I read the novelization of the movie: (1) Werewolves are starting to take the number one spot in my favorite monster categories, (2) Lawrence Talbot is one of my favorite characters that we have encountered thus far in the semester, and (3) the novelization is always better than the movie.

Jonathan Maberry won me over in the prologue alone with his description of the Goddess of the Hunt.  It was so poetic and visual, that I actually went back and re-read it several times throughout the novel.  To further that note, Maberry’s descriptions of the moon throughout the entire novel were amazing.  I loved how he personified the moon, gave it female characteristics, and then heavily focused on the power that we had over her children.  His writing style alone inspired me a lot this week, and I ended up churning out some great poetry because of his technique.

Now I’m sure the most heated argument is going to be: Who exactly is the monster in this book?  And are you a monster even if you do not want to be one?  I personally not know where I would place myself in these arguments because Lawrence Talbot could fall into several areas depending on how you answer it.  Now there is no doubt that his father is without a doubt the true monster of the story, seeing that he locked Lawrence out of safety (causing him to willfully kill), slaughtered Lawrence’s mother and brother, and is responsible for the deaths of several others.

(My only question is whether or not it was Lawrence’s father that was responsible for the bite or not?)

But when it comes down to it, Lawrence doesn’t end up taking his life in order to prevent the killings of other innocent people.  Sure he has an agenda, but does that still make him a monster because he didn’t technically stop himself from it?  If I had to pick a side, I would probably agree with Gwen and say that this was all out of Lawrence’s control, and that he wasn’t truly a monster – it was what was happening inside him, and when the change took over, he didn’t know what he was doing.  Plus, the strongest argument for this would be the scene in the asylum when he begging the doctors to kill him or at least lock him up; at least he tried to protect others…they just chose not to listen.

However, I can’t write this blog and not mention Lawrence’s and Gwen’s relationship with one another.  Talk about your steamy romance huh?  In the movie, their lust for each other didn’t seem so, ah… intense?  But wow, with the book… sheesh. I’m surprised Gwen was even able to pull herself away from Lawrence when the Inspector A. was knocking at the Apothecary’s door! It had to be painfully obvious that she was getting in on with someone… no wonder they thought Lawrence was in there!  But what really confuses me is their love for each other in the first place.  I mean Ben had just died, and Gwen is already moving on to the next Talbot brother….I would think she would need some time to mourn, but I’ve heard that sometimes grieving turns the sex drive on…so maybe this was some sick way of being closer to Ben by going through Lawrence….but even then, at the end it seemed like she really did have feelings for him, so I’m not sure where I stand in that argument either.

I also liked that they focused a great deal on the exotic other in the movie/book with the ostracized American coming back to Blackmoor, and especially the characterizations of the gypsies. I think that by including gypsy myth and lore, it really allowed the movie/book to open up to the idea of the occult and mysticism on an entire different level rather than just solely focusing on the story of the Werewolf.  What I particularly liked about this, was the notion of secrecy that they held throughout the entire piece.  They knew what was going on, but they protected themselves by keeping it too themselves and away from those that treated them badly…kind of like a sense of karma.


One more point… I have to admit that I have a weird interest in abnormal psychology, and I really thought it was neat how they described the different treatments that the doctors put Lawrence through as a way to cure him of his delusions.  The water treatment has always seemed especially inhumane to me, but when they did the shock treatment in the movie….I def. got chills.  There is just something about that form of therapy that literally puts Goosebumps all over me (i.e. have you ever seen the movie Changeling?? Ahhh).

Overall, I was very impressed with the book, and I’m probably going to re-watch the movie tonight! I’m really glad that I got to pick up something by Maberry that was assigned for class, so I could read him without feeling guilty, haha! His style was def. a huge inspiration to be as a writer, and because of him…every time that I look at the moon, I’m going to be wondering what the Goddess is thinking as she looks down over me.


  1. I really enjoyed your commentary here, though you liked the film and the book a bit more than I did. I particularly liked your posing the question about whether you can be a monster if you don't choose it or want it. It's a thought-provoking question (and leads to the main do you define "monster"?). I decided that I think Lawrence does still qualify as a monster, because he did inhuman things that cause physical and emotional agony for others. That he caused those same agonies for himself doesn't really neutralize the horror. In a way, it's like a possession--like the little girl in The Exorcist. While he's possessed, he's definitely a monster. Unfortunately, no exorcism can help Lawrence. His only salvation is death, and I liked that Gwen had the courage to end it all.

  2. Great post, Stephanie.

    I dug the book, too. The movie, unfortunately, ended up being a bit of a disappointment, probably because I read the book first and, like you, got into the character of Lawrence. Del Toro's cool, but his performance seemed really flat. Ditto the connection between Del Toro and Gwen's character.

    You raise a good question here: is Sir John responsible for the bite? Extrapolating from what we see of the Wolfman's mindset, it seems we can assign only a blanket of guilt to Sir John. He, like Lawrence, is guilty of not stopping himself, whatever the price, but it doesn't seem that the human consciousness holds any sway once the fangs and fur come out. Interesting.

    One last point. It's funny. The sexual attraction between Lawrence and Gwen was more extreme in the book than in the movie, yet it was also more believable. In the film, it seemed rushed and random. In the book, at least, we believe Lawrence's charisma, and we see enough of both characters to understand the connection. The book's also plugging into the romance of the melancholic lead, which works, given the setting.

  3. I also loved the moon imagery in the novel. To be honest, I had a lot of issues with the story, but every time Maberry brought in the Goddess of the Hunt and spoke of the moon, those parts were great.


  4. There were a lot of scenes removed from the movie that would have helped things seem more deep.
    I think Sir John's definitely responsible for the bite. Maybe, though it doesn't ever touch on it in the book or the movie, he has more control over his mindset as the Beast than Lawrence ended up having.
    Yeah, Changeling is a great movie, though you can make a drinking game out of how many times she says "You're not my son!" and "I want my son!"

  5. Great comments, Stephanie! My heart went out to Lawrence. He had been a victim since childhood of his abusive father, Sir John. It was enough that he saw Daddy killing his mother, but then he was sent to an inhumane insane asylum to be cured. I think my only question was why in the heck did he return to his homeplace? He was doomed from the minute he arrived.