Werewolf Wednesday: “The Refugee” by Jane Rice (1943)

As far as horror films were concerned, werewolves were perhaps the biggest monster of World War 2. For one reason or another, the war years saw an influx of lycanthropes onto screens: The Wolf Man (1941), The Mad Monster (1942), The Undying Monster (1942), Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), Return of the Vampire (1943), Cry of the Werewolf (1944), House of Frankenstein (1944). With “The Refugee” by Jane Rice, originally published in the October 1943 edition of Unknown Worlds, we have a werewolf story with a wartime setting – namely, Nazi-occupied France as seen through the eyes of American ex-pat Milli Cushman. A decidedly self-absorbed individual, Milli had once found the overseas conflict most exciting, but this excitement has since dwindled:

The trouble with the war, Milli Cushman thought as she stared sulkily through streaming French windows into her rain-drenched garden, was that it was so frightfully boring. There weren’t any men, any more. Interesting ones, that is. Or parties. Or little pink cocktails. Or café royale. Or long-stemmed roses wrapped in crackly green wax paper. There wasn’t even a decent hairdresser left.

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Women in British Animation, the Return

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One of my first projects for WWAC was a series entitled Women in British Animation, which migrated to the sister site Ms En Scene — and then Ms En Scene closed, taking the last two posts in the series with it. Well, after some time, I’m returning to the series, first by reviving the two lost posts and then by — if all goes to plan — continuing it. Today, WWAC has re-run the post on Joanna Quinn I did for Ms En Scene, updated to cover her Oscar-nominated film Affairs of the Art. Read on…

Werewolf Wednesday: Elliott O’Donnell Visits Santa Claus (1912)

The sixth chapter of Elliott O’Donnell’s 1912 book Werwolves discusses lycanthropy in the British Isles, and the opening turns out to be unusually well-sourced by the standards of the book. After reminding us that Britain once had a wolf population, O’Donnell cites a medeival manuscript (Ms. Bodl 546, to be precise) quoted by the scholar James Halliwell-Phillipps:

Ther ben somme that eten chyldren and men, and eteth noon other flesh fro that tyme that thei be a-charmed with mannys flesh for rather thei wolde be deed; and thei be cleped werewolfes for men shulde be war of them.

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Le Vampire by Charles Nodier (Prologue and Act 1)

Background: I’m currently researching nineteenth-century vampire plays, and I was surprised to find that one of the most significant works in the field – Charles Nodier’s Le Vampire, from 1820 — appears not to be available online in plain text form. There are multiple copies on Google Books, which offers a tool for converting to plain text, but as this can be read only one page at a time and contains errors, it is not particularly convenient.

For my own purposes, I decided to combile my own plain text copy. For the benefit of anyone else who wishes to research this topic, I’m shall be posting the entire play on my blog. The following text almost certainly contains transliteration errors, so I welcome any corrections.

See also act 2 and act 3.

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Women in Horror Month: From the Vampire Vaults

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Well, we’re a few days into Women in Horror Month (it’s been relocated from February to March, in case you missed the memo) so I’ve naturally been thinking about gender and genre. It could be argued that the horror subgenre most closely associated with female authors today is vampire fiction, but this wasn’t always the case. Historically, the authors who did most to define vampire literature — John Polidori, Sheridan Le Fanu, Bram Stoker — have been male; their female contempories, like E. Nesbit, were concerned less with vampires and more with ghosts and hauntings. But in my time digging around the nooks and crannies of horror history, I found a few exceptions.

One of my past projects was a three-part blog series about race, gender and sexuality in nienteenth-century vampire literature.  For the gender portion of the series, I talked about three comparatively little-known Victorian vampire stories by female writers: Eliza Lynn Linton’s “The Fate of Madame Cabanel” (1880), Mary Cholmondeley’s “Let Loose” (1890) and Violet Hunt’s “The Prayer” (1895).

That series wasn’t my first trip through the history of vampire literature — I’d previously written a series picking out one vampire story per decade from the 1810s onwards, including a number by women. Elizabeth F. Ellet’s “The Vampyre” (1849) is, admittedly, not a particularly strong entry in the genre, being largely an imitation of Polidori’s same-titled story, but it nonetheless has historical interest. Anne Crawford’s “A Mystery of the Campagna” (1886) was also a little on the flat side. But things became considerably more interesting when I arrived at the tales of occult novelist Dion Fortune — whose vampires were purportedly drawn from life. After those came Irina Karlova’s Dreadful Hollow (1942), a mystery novel influenced by the vampires of Hollywood. And, of course, the modern era saw a much larger female presence in vampire fiction: the later posts in the series took me into the work of Anne Rice followed by Nancy Collins, Tanya Huff and Stephenie Meyer and, finally, B. E. Scully and Harriet Muncaster.

I’m far from finished, and I hope to spend more time with the forgotten women of vampire literature later this year. Stay tuned…

Werewolf Wednesday: “Canis Lupus Sapiens” by Alex Hamilton (1966)

A public park is nearing its closing-time at dusk, yet remains a hub of activity: an amateur football game is underway; a man walks his dog; a couple kiss; and the park keeper, Smithers, is trying without luck to drive everyone out. The park happens to be adjacent to a zoo, and contains animal enclosures; the football match ends when one of the players, Edward “Tubbsie” Tubbs, inadvertently kicks the ball right into the wolves’ habitat. Tubbsie goes to retrieve the ball – and is surprised when it is tossed at him from the enclosure:

At this moment the ball landed at his feet. He leaped back, startled by the suddenly loud noise immediately in front of him, and by the bounce. Then he clutched at it, and turned round. The wide avenue lay empty, down the hill to the gate, up theh ill to the stone memorial left by the parsee gentleman in gratitude to the British Raj for its protection almost a century ago. Tubbsie felt an uncomfortable sensation inside the sweaty red shirt which was not only the wind playing cold on his damp back. He wished that the British Raj were present at that moment. Even the parsee gentleman would have been better than nothing.

The ball turns out to have been thrown by a man standing in the wolves’ enclosure, seemingly ignored by the animals; Tubbsie takes him for “[o]ne of those scientific men you saw sometimes on telly, that kissed monkeys and wore snakes around their necks the way other men wore ties.” Polite and well=spoken, the stranger encourages Tubbsie to climb inside and apologise to the wolves for scaring them – “Like most creatures of the animal world they only attack when they feel threatened.” Despite his trepidation, Tubbsie does so:

‘How do you do?’ said Tubbsie with an ingratiating smile, but keeping his hands firmly behind his back. The wolf looked at Tubbsie, steadily.
‘At night they look different,’ said Tubbsie to the stranger.
‘You do too,’ smiled the stranger.
‘I wouldn’tl ike to meet one in his home country,’ said Tubbsie.
‘If you look at the map on the notice, in the areas filled in scarlet, you’ll see the lupis canis has home countries right round the globe. The sun never sets on the empire of lupus canis.’
‘No, but the sun sets on this park,’ said Tubbsie, feelign better for his clever reply, ‘so I’ll just say nice to have met you all…’

But it turns out that Tubbsie has made a grave error in opening the enclosure. The werewolves are now free – and the denizens of the park will have more to worry about than closing time.

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