How I Spent August 2022


How did I spend the month? Well, I spent it hitting all of the deadlines that had been piling up in front of me. I’m sincerely looking forward to September, so that I can start some new projects (and catch up on my various neglected projects too).

Articles of mine published elsewhere this month:

Article topics for September and beyond:


August 2022: A Month in Horror


Goth icons of past decades are coming back in style, with a well-received adaptation of The Sandman on Netflix, a trailer for the Tim Burton-helmed Addams Family relaunch Wednesday (all eyes have been on Luis Guzmán as Gomez, it seems) and the announcement of a new Hellraiser film to debut on Hulu come October.

Speaking of Hulu, the service also hosted the premier of Prey, the latest film in the Predator series. As well as tedious culture-warrior grumblings about the fact that the protagonist is a Native American woman, the film’s success prompted arguments that it should really have been released into cinemas.

At the other end of the streaming scale, we find the utterly catastrophic state of HBOMax. A casualty of the Warner/Discovery merger, the implosion of this streaming service led to a large amount of content being pulled or canned; not much is relevant to the horror genre, however, aside from the occasional edge-case like nearly-completed but never-to-be-released Scoob! sequel.

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Werewolf Wednesday: Sabine Baring-Gould Chapter 7 (1865)

Having given us an overview of various French werewolves in chapter 6, Sabine Baring-Gould devotes chapter 7 of The Book of Were-Wolves to one of the most famous loups-garoux of all: Jean Grenier.

This narrative will need little introduction to anyone familiar with the ranks of “real” werewolves, although Baring-Gould’s retelling is worth a read for its prose stylings. After opening with a description of a charming village setting (“The brightness of the sky, the freshness of the air puffing up off the blue twinkling Bay of Biscay, the hum or song of the wind as it made rich music among the pines which stood like a green uplifted wave on the East, the beauty of the sand-hills speckled with golden cistus…”) the author turns to the carefree banter of the village maidens. Banter which, I scarcely need point out, is most unlikely to have been recorded in any of the documents relating to the Grenier case — this is essentially Baring-Gould’s fictionalisation.

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Werewolf Wednesday: Sabine Baring-Gould Chapter 6 (1865)

Detail from a sixteenth-century woodcut by German artist Lucas Cranach the Elder, widely (and inaccurately) used online to illustrate the case of Gilles Garnier, which occurred years after the artist’s death.

Titled simply “A Chamber of Horrors”, the sixth chapter of Sabine Baring-Gould’s Book of Were-Wolves is a round-up of historical cases from France.

The first of these is from concerns the 1521 trial of two men, Pierre Bourgot and Michel Verdung, who were accused of witchcraft and cannibalism. Bourgot is quoted as relating an incident that happened to him around nineteen years previously when he went  looking for lost sheep and received an offer of help from a “black horseman”:

“We agreed to meet again in four or five days. My flock I soon found collected together. At my second meeting I learned of the stranger that he was a servant of the devil. I forswore God and our Lady and all saints and dwellers in Paradise. I renounced Christianity, kissed his left hand, which was black and ice-cold as that of a corpse. Then I fell on my knees and gave in my allegiance to Satan. I remained in the service of the devil for two years, and never entered a church before the end of mass, or at all events till the holy water had been sprinkled, according to the desire of my master, whose name I afterwards learned was Moyset.”

Although Bourgot later moved out of Satan’s sway, he was eventually tempted back to evil by Verdung. The two then became werewolves:

“In a wood near Chastel Charnon we met with many others whom I did not recognize; we danced, and each had in his or her hand a green taper with a blue flame. Still under the delusion that I should obtain money, Michel persuaded me to move with the greatest celerity, and in order to do this, after I had stripped myself, he smeared me with a salve, and I believed myself then to be transformed into a wolf. I was at first somewhat horrified at my four wolf’s feet, and the fur with which I was covered all at once, but I found that I could now travel with the speed of the wind.”

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The Drag Queen Satanic Panic

DragQueenProtestThe above photograph comes from a North Norfolk News article about a Drag Queen Story Hour event in North Walsham being called off amid protests. What caught my eye was the leaflet held by the protestors:


Even at the low resolution, it’s clear that the drag queen on the leaflet is not Titania Trust (who was due to appear at the British library in question) but American performer Xochi Mochi. The latter appeared at a Californian library in 2017; a photograph from the event subsequently went viral and has been incorporated in many images attacking Drag Queen Story Hour (or targets perceived as being somehow related to Drag Queen Story Hour).

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Werewolf Wednesday: Sabine Baring-Gould Chapter 5 (1865)

The Werewolves of Ossory.

The fifth chapter of Sabine Baring-Gould’s Book of Were-Wolves is entitled “The Were-Wolf in the Middle-Ages”. Unlike the previous chapter, the author does not offer personal theories as to where lycanthropic beliefs came from, nor does he delve into etymology. Instead, he assembles a compendium of snippets dealing with werewolves — plus some weredogs and werecats thrown in for good measure.

The survey begins with Olaus Magnus on werewolves in Prussia, Livonia, and Lithuania; he tells us that on “the feast of the Nativity of Christ, at night,” a multitude of wolves — transformed from men — will gather and rampage. These shapeshifters are readily distinguished from natural wolves by their habit of barging into beer-cellars, indulging in alcohol and piling up empty casks before moving on. We are also given a description of some sort of lycanthropic sporting event:

Between Lithuania, Livonia, and Courland are the walls of a certain old ruined castle. At this spot congregate thousands, on a fixed occasion, and try their agility in jumping. Those who are unable to bound over the wall, as; is often the case with the fattest, are fallen upon with scourges by the captains and slain.

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