Friday, February 1, 2013

With Werewolves, Why Does It Have To Be A Silver Bullet?

Author's Note: While I’ve never really harbored a closeness toward werewolves as I have toward the Pete Cushing and Christopher Lee vampire and George Romero zombie flicks, I couldn’t deny their fascination. With both zombies and vampires, I was considerably sure that they were only in fiction, having never existed. With werewolves however, after reading a number of pieces indicating that they had indeed existed (something I’m still unsure of), I researched a bit myself and ended up writing this piece, originally published in the August 2012 issue of Suspense Magazine.
In film and book media, Werewolves, with the exception of “Teen Wolf,” and a few others, are typically and rightly so, portrayed as something viciously horrible. Employing superhuman strength, razor sharp claws and teeth, and an aggressive disposition, they are stealth, fast and can strike without notice. And, their exceptional hear and smell senses ensure that no hiding spot is safe.

Killing these terrible beasts can be most trying. The standard weapons simply don’t apply and since they heal basically instantly, most efforts are in vain. But, all hope is not lost. As with any good versus evil scenario, there is a solution. It is a solution that many werewolf films’ following the most commonly accepted resolution employs in one way or another…the silver bullet. But, it doesn’t answer the question, why does it have to be a silver bullet?
The first reputed werewolf was in 1591 in Bedburg and Cologne, Germany. His name was Peter Stubbe and the legend tells of sorcery, evil pacts, brutal acts, and his eventual execution.
Depending upon location and belief, primarily European originated, there are various ways to become a werewolf. With the aid of modern horror, many are familiar with the most common way, through the bite. But, what are the other less common ways?
The earliest belief was by making a pact with the devil in order to fulfill a desire or craving for human flesh. Supposedly, the devil offered the ability of metamorphosis in exchange for the soul. Being cursed is probably the second most common method. This curse can be either human or God related. However, when it is God related, it is a punishment for invoking their wraith.
In Greek mythology, the werewolf originates when King Lycaon attempts to feed and poison Zeus with human flesh. Zeus isn’t fooled and condemns Lycaon to a life as a wolf, thus, the lycan word origin.
Other ways of infection are by drinking the puddle of rain water lying in a werewolf’s paw print, wearing a wolfskin belt while nude, and sleeping outdoors with the moon directly hitting a person’s face on certain Wednesdays and Fridays.
Is there a cure?
There are three reputed methods for curing werewolfism. Using wolfs bane medicinally, surgical removal (usually killing the person in the process), or by exorcism.
In a 1963 study by Dr. Lee Illis entitled “On Prophyria and the Aetiology of Werewolves,” he argues that the medical condition of Rabies could very well be the actual origin of the werewolf legend since the common historical symptoms are uncannily similar. And, since Rabies is a contagious disease, it could explain why being bitten by the afflicted would infect and create a new werewolf. Other medical conditions have been debated in an attempt to explain also.
Where Hypertrichosis deals primarily with excessive hair growth, Porphyria is much worse. In a nutshell, results are pigment loss of red blood cells and painfully photosensitive. In the later stages, thick hair growth, sores, skin and cartilage change, and accompanying red colored nails and teeth. Usually, varying degrees of mental illness are prevalent in the afflicted.
The silver aspect made its way into the lore in the 19th century when it was reputed that a silver bullet was used to kill the “Beast of Gevaudan.” This was the name given to the red hair, large teeth, and smelly man-eating wolf-like animal that roamed France’s central-south Margeride Mountains between 1764 and 1767. Eventually, the Norse colonizing America brought these beliefs with them.
In more recent days, a more creditable explanation of the animal is that of an extinct Hyena.
Silver is reputed to have associations with the human soul as well as the moon. And, it is this certain metal that has been long considered to have mystical properties. These properties act, much like the werewolf’s natural allergy of wolfs bane, and burn from the inside.
Psalm 12:6 addresses this. The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver tried in of earth, purified seven times. This purification and absolute is an aspect that Satan cannot twist since it is pure. And, with a werewolf being reputed to have originally made a pact with the dark Lord in which they would make it impervious to manmade weapons, an absolute purifier needed to be added in the weapon creation, successfully breaking the evil binding tie. Silver is a metallic element that, in its pure form, has both the highest electrical and thermal conductivity of all metals. So, considering the metals physical as well as divine properties, it does seem to be well suited to disposing of a werewolf.
Is simply killing the menacing beast enough?
It is believed that if the werewolf’s head is not separated from the body, they will rise, much like a vampire, to begin the victim hunt again. However, if the head is removed and tossed into a brook, it is thought to sink, and remain under the surface, held down by the weight of its sins.
Why does it take shape only during a full moon?
Leonie Calver, a clinical research toxicology nurse at Calvary Mater Newcastle Hospital in Sydney, Australia has researched this human and full moon phenomenon. In her Medical Journal of Australia documented study, she cites, “our findings support the premise that individuals with violent and acute behavioral disturbances are more likely to present to the emergency department during the full moon.”
There is a theory that may lend some credence to the full moon conception. The moon controls the tide through lunar gravitational pull, and since the human brain is primarily made up of water, the full moon may have an adverse effect on this water too. Additionally, this may cause ill feelings to come forth and surface, creating the transformation much like the proverbial lunatic, a moon or lunar associated word.
Which reminds me…
Why do they call it the Witching Hour?
With the Comics Code Authority crack down of 1955, horror titles like Tales from the Crypt and Haunt of Fear became a thing of the past. In 1964, Creepy Magazine, in an effort by publisher James Warren to follow the EC horror comic line, beat the Comic Code Authority’s censorship tactics when they made it a magazine instead of a comic book. Of course, it was still a comic book, just a larger one. But, since magazines weren't covered in the Comic Code Authority, Warren had considerable leeway and provided more mature content, often featuring finely detailed drawings depicting tales of murder, ghouls, zombies and the like. The series became a hit and was followed by new titles including Eerie, Vampirella, and a few others.
This first issue includes: Bill Pearson and Joe Orlando’s Voodoo; H2O World! by Larry Ivie, Al Williamson, and Roy G. Krenkel; an Archie Goodwin and Reed Crandall vampire tale called Vampire Fly at Dusk; Werewolf! by Larry Ivie and Frank Frazetta (best known for his Conan the Barbarian style paintings; Bewitched! by Larry Ivie and Gray Morrow; The Success Story by Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson; and Pursuit of the Vampire! by Archie Goodwin and Angelo Torres. Jack Davis did the cover and Uncle Creepy, the book’s maitre’ de, made his first appearance too, all for only 35 cents.
Speaking of's a couple of links

Most everyone knows the poem…
Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother 40 whacks
When she saw what she had done, she gave her father 41
Looking for a creepy good time? Book a room at the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast museum.
Are you afraid of something? Check out the Phobia List and see what the medical term for the fear is. The Phobia List
Creepy Pics of the Week

Hey Twilight Zone Fans!
Unlock your door with the key of imagination
Visit my Land of Shadow and Substance column at Horror News Net
A new episode every week!
So, until next time ghouls,
Stay Scared,



  1. Silver is a natural antibacterial element. At one time the united states government thought of plating all doorknobs of government buildings with silver. Ingestion of colloidal silver is still an effective way of ridding the body of infection.

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