Thursday, 18 June 2015

An update from me...

Life has been a bit hectic for the last few months, so I've fallen behind a bit with blogging and tweeting. As I'm wrapping up a couple of big pieces of work and then working at Glastonbury with Oxfam Stewards for a week, normal service isn't going to be resumed until July. In the meantime, here are some updates on the things I would've tweeted and blogged about more if I'd had the chance. Sorry if this starts to sound like a Round Robin newsletter, but I guess you can just pretend it's the festive season and I've overshared in a Christmas card.

Work

I've finished teaching at Manchester Met (for now?) after a couple of great terms - my first time working at MMU and my first job purely teaching film (rather than literature and film). I'm still working at the University of Manchester, in Art History and Visual Studies, on a digitization project involving the Early Printed Medical Collection at the John Rylands Library. This has turned out to be a really fascinating project, and I'm looking forward to sharing the final product when it's done in the next few months. I'm also still an Honorary Research Associate at Swansea Uni, so the life of an itinerant academic continues. And, of course, it's that time of year when I do a bit of work for one of the GCSE exam boards. But I can't say much about that because of strict confidentiality - but I'm sure you can guess what's been keeping me busy for the last few weeks.

Publications

The big thing for me this year has been the publication of my edited collection She-Wolf: A Cultural History of Female Werewolves (Manchester University Press). Way back in 2010, I started this blog as a conference website for the She-Wolf conference (held at the University of Manchester), which I organized with Carys Crossen. The book was a few years in development, but this allowed me to include a lot of really interesting female werewolves that I wouldn't have been able to in 2010 (would you believe, Nina hadn't even been scratched when I first pitched the book to MUP). Since the conference, all the postgrad contributors have received their doctorates, including my co-organizer Carys Crossen (whose PhD was on the post-1800 literary werewolf) and the very talented Jazmina Cininas (an Australian artist whose practice-based doctorate was entitled The Girlie Werewolf Hall of Fame and is definitely worth checking out). Following the publication of She-Wolf, I was asked to contribute a short article to History Today (published earlier this month), which was great because I got to write about a 1591 broadsheet ('The She-Wolves of Jülich') that I wasn't able to include in the book.

On the creative side, it's also been quite a lycanthropic year. Despite saying that I wasn't going to write another werewolf story for a while, I was lured back to the hairy side by the editors of European Monsters (Margrét Helgadóttir and Jo Thomas) last year. My story 'Nimby' was included in the book, and it's a humorous (but, according to one reviewer, venomous) story set in Heaton Park an unnamed large municipal park in an unnamed northern city and featuring a really horrible protagonist.

My plans for the rest of this year include another book chapter (about werewolves) and another short creative piece (about werewolves), working on 3 edited collections (only a little bit about werewolves) and finally making some progress with 2 monographs (sort of about werewolves). If I ever earn enough money to pay the bills and stop working 15-hour days, I'm also planning to actually do something about my novel (100% not about werewolves).

Hic Dragones

Rob and I are still working away at Hic Dragones - our most recent publication was Psychic Spiders!, Toby Stone's awesome follow-up to Aimee and the Bear. We were so happy to be able to publish Toby's second novel, and we love working with him. Although we've been concentrating on a couple of other projects for the past few months, once I'm back from Glastonbury we'll be announcing two new open-call anthologies and two conferences, as well as a couple of cool competitions. If you don't already, follow Hic Dragones on Twitter or like us on Facebook for updates. And, in case you haven't already seen it, all our paperbacks are now available with free UK shipping.

Digital Periodicals

You probably already know this, but Digital Periodicals is the Victorian wing of Hic Dragones. Since last June, we've been publishing Victorian penny bloods and penny dreadfuls as serialized eBooks. All our editions are re-transcribed, edited and formatted - I estimate I've transcribed around 1.5m words of early Victorian terror since we started - and the eBook conversions we do mean that, for the first time, these texts are fully searchable. So if you want to know how many times the word 'ejaculated' appears in Varney the Vampyre, we can help. We've now published complete runs of Varney the Vampyre, The String of Pearls (Sweeney Todd), Vileroy; or, the Horrors of Zindorf Castle, Wagner the Wehr-Wolf, Clement Lorimer; or, the Book with the Iron Clasps (which is BRILLIANT), Angelina; or, the Mysteries of St Mark's Abbey and (my personal favourite) The Life and Adventures of Valentine Vox, the Ventriloquist. George Reynolds' Mysteries of London will be coming to a close at the end of this month, and at some point when I get back, we'll be launching The Life of Richard Palmer (Dick Turpin), George Reynolds' Faust and The Mysteries of the Madhouse; or, the Annals of Bedlam. At the moment, all our full collections (every issue plus a couple of bonus stories) are just £3.99, or you can enjoy the Victorian experience and read them in serial form for £1 per 10 chapters.

Not going to say too much about it now, but one of the conferences we'll be announcing will be connected to the penny bloods/dreadfuls, and it's going to be part of an exciting new collaboration for us. Follow Digital Periodicals on Twitter or like us on Facebook for updates.


Hannah's Bookshelf

You might have seen something about this already, as I have tweeted a bit about it. Hannah's Bookshelf is my new(ish) radio show on North Manchester FM. It's a literature show, on every Saturday 4-6pm, where I talk books, writing and related stuff with my guest for the week. I've been really lucky with guests so far, who've included Toby Stone, Sorcha Ní Fhlainn, Andy Hickmott (from the Ancoats Dispensary Trust), Daisy Black, Nancy Schumann, Chris Monk, Bernadette Hyland, Tony Walsh, Cate Gardner, Emma Marigliano (from the Portico Library) and Mike Whalley (from Manchester's Monday Night Group). I've also done shows with my lovely husband Rob (where we talked about small press publishing), my mum (where we talked Burns Night and Scottish literature) and my brother (where we discussed RPGs and how to be a good gamesmaster). When I don't have a guest on the show, you get two hours of me musing on whatever weird and wonderful topic has caught my interest that week - so far, this has included my favourite literary dystopias and my favourite experimental fiction. Future guests lined up include Rosie Garland and Simon Bestwick, but I'm always on the lookout for others so if you're in the Manchester area and would like to come on the show, please do drop me a line. I tweet and blog about the show from my Hannah Kate accounts, so that's where you'll find up-to-date info about the show.

My favourite bit of the show so far has definitely been Apocalypse Books. This is the section of the show where I ask my guests: in the event of an apocalypse, which 3 books would you save, and why? The responses to this question have been serious, surreal, personal and pragmatic. Books have been selected for their content or their worth as an artefact, but also for their practical use in a post-apocalyptic dystopia. (One of my guests, Daisy Black, made the very sensible point that selections would actually depend on what sort of apocalypse we were facing, as I guess you'd want different reading material in the zombie apocalypse than during the Rapture.) You can see all the selections that have been made so far in The Library at the End of Days.



Creative Cats

Recently, Rob and I decided we should bring all our freelance work under one umbrella so it's easier for us to market our services. We've called that umbrella The Creative Cats, and we have a shiny new website that lists all the freelance work that we do. Rob's side of things is web design (bespoke Wordpress themes, CSS editing, eBook conversion and corrections). We also have a free Wordpress theme available - a minimalist Bootstrap theme called Bertie, which was designed with academic and creative bloggers in mind. My side is editing and research services. I've been doing more and more freelance editing recently (fiction and academic), and am also available for indexing, research assistance and fiction fact-checking. Our prices are very competitive and we're trying to avoid charging people extra for things that we think should be standard (SEO, responsive web design, 2-pass editing), because we can't be arsed trying to sell snake oil. Check out our website for more info, or follow us on Twitter - if you're interested, of course.

Tutoring

I've massively cut down the amount of private tuition I'm doing. I put myself through the PhD by tutoring 20-25 students a week, but I've now only got two pupils (one Maths/English Yr 9 and one Maths/English/Science GCSE). One of them is actually my first ever pupil; she was just 6 when I started tutoring her, and she's now nearly 16 and about to go into her final year at school - and I promised her a long time ago (like a sort of slightly Gothy Mary Poppins) that I wouldn't leave until the wind changes she finishes her GCSEs, so I guess I'm going to be doing this for a little bit longer. I'm not taking on any new pupils at the moment. In case you're curious, I interviewed my two pupils on my radio show in March, and I was really proud of how well they did (I particularly enjoyed Steph's comments on Twilight and sparkly vampires): you can listen again here.

Avon

I'm still an independent Avon rep, ably assisted by Avon Boy (or Rob, as he prefers to be known). I know a lot of people find it hard to reconcile this bit of my life with the others, but I really enjoy being my neighbourhood's Avon Lady. There's something nice and traditional about the role and I've got to know all my neighbours and their cats. Plus I get a good discount on the insane amount of black eyeliner I get through. If you're in Manchester and you want to buy stuff from me, feel free to have a look at my Personal Online Brochure.

Cat in a Spitfire

Ha ha! I just put this in to intrigue you. This is a new project that I'll be unveiling later in the year. I had hoped to make some progress with this over the last couple of months, but it's still a work-in-progress. Coming soon...

Anyway, that's all the self-promotion/waffling I can bring myself to do tonight. I'm off to Glastonbury on Monday, so will be covered in mud and incommunicado for a week. It's quite an exciting year for me, as it's my 20th year of volunteering for Oxfam and 18 years since I first signed up to work with Oxfam Stewards. Which means, of course, that I have now been stewarding as long as the new stewards have been alive. I fully intend to spend most of Glastonbury talking like an old woman. "I remember when all this was fields..."



PS Albert is doing fine.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

OUT NOW: She-Wolf: A Cultural History of Female Werewolves (Manchester University Press, 2015)

edited by Hannah Priest

http://www.manchesteruniversitypress.co.uk/cgi-bin/indexer?product=9780719089343


She-Wolf explores the cultural history of the female werewolf, from her first appearance in medieval literature to recent incarnations in film, television and popular literature. The book includes contributors from various disciplines, and offers a cross-period, interdisciplinary exploration of a perennially popular cultural production. The book covers material from the Middle Ages to the present day with chapters on folklore, history, witch trials, Victorian literature, young adult literature, film and gaming. Considering issues such as religious and social contexts, colonialism, constructions of racial and gendered identities, corporeality and subjectivity – as well as female body hair, sexuality and violence – She-Wolf reveals the varied ways in which the female werewolf is a manifestation of complex cultural anxieties, as well as a site of continued fascination.

Contents:

Introduction: a history of female werewolves
Hannah Priest

Estonian werewolf legends collected from the island of Saaremaa
Merili Metsvahi

‘She transformed into a werewolf, devouring and killing two children’: trials of she-werewolves in early modern French Burgundy
Rolf Schulte

Participatory lycanthropy: female werewolves in Werewolf: The Apocalypse
Jay Cate

Fur girls and wolf women: fur, hair and subversive female lycanthropy
Jazmina Cininas

Female werewolf as monstrous other in Honoré Beaugrand’s ‘The Werewolves’
Shannon Scott

‘The complex and antagonistic forces that constitute one soul’: conflict between societal expectations and individual desires in Clemence Housman’s ‘The Werewolf’ and Rosamund Marriott Watson’s ‘A Ballad of the Were-wolf’
Carys Crossen

I was a teenage she-wolf: boobs, blood and sacrifice
Hannah Priest

The case of the cut off hand: Angela Carter’s werewolves in historical perspective
Willem de Blécourt

The she-wolves of horror cinema
Peter Hutchings

Ginger Snaps: the monstrous feminine as femme animale
Barbara Creed

Dans Ma Peau: shape-shifting and subjectivity
Laura Wilson

For more information, please see the publisher's website.

Monday, 9 February 2015

OUT NOW: Psychic Spiders! by Toby Stone (Hic Dragones, 2015)

Really pleased to announce the release of the latest title from Hic Dragones...

http://www.hic-dragones.co.uk/psychic-spiders/


From the mad genius that brought you Aimee and the Bear comes the tale of the ultimate arachnid anti-hero…

George is an unusual spider. Born with the ability to control human thoughts, he has a unique insight into the human psyche. And he doesn’t like what he sees. It’s time to deal with the problem.

George’s crusade to save arachnidkind takes him on warped journey through the city, to the one place where he can make his voice heard – the local television station. But George’s quest for media domination brings him up against an array of unlikely opponents: Igor, a troubled man long abandoned to a nursing home by his angry daughter; Tobias, a sensitive spider with a fondness for Countdown; Captain Ahab, a man with no past (that he can remember, anyway). And it’s only a matter of time before George’s activities catch the attention of The Web – a shadowy organisation whose furry legs stretch around the globe.

Will George succeed? Will humanity survive? Will television ever be the same again?

Available now in paperback and eBook formats from Hic Dragones and all good retailers.

Watch the trailer (featuring music by the amazing Digital Front):

Thursday, 29 January 2015

OUT NOW: European Monsters (Fox Spirit, 2014)

Edited by Margrét Helgadóttir and Jo Thomas



Blurb:

They lurk and crawl and fly in the shadows of our mind. We know them from ancient legends and tales whispered by the campfire. They hide under the dark bridge, in the deep woods or out on the great plains, in the drizzling rain forest or out on the foggy moor, beneath the surface, under your bed. They don't sparkle or have any interest in us except to tear us apart. They are the monsters! Forgotten, unknown, misunderstood, overused, watered down. We adore them still. We want to give them a renaissance, to re-establish their dark reputation, to give them a comeback, let the world know of their real terror.

Contents:

Here Be Monsters! by Jo Thomas and Margrét Helgadóttir
Herne by J.C. Grimwood
Vijka by Anne Michaud
Broken Bridges by James Bennett
Upon the Wash of the Fjord by Byron Black
Nimby by Hannah Kate
Black Shuck by Joan De La Haye
A Very Modern Monster by Aliya Whiteley
Mother Knows Worst by Jasper Bank and Fabian Tuñon Benzo (artist)
Fly, My Dear, Fly by Nerine Dorman
Melanie by Aliette de Bodard
Moments by Krista Walsh
Hafgufa Rising by Chris Galvin
Old Bones by Peter Damien
The Cursed One by Icy Sedgwick
Serpent Dawn by Adrian Tchaikovsky and Eugene Smith (artist)

For more information about the book, please visit the publisher's website.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Psychic Spiders! Launch Party

Thursday 29th January, 7-9pm
International Anthony Burgess Foundation
3 Cambridge Street
Manchester
Free event



Come and join us for the launch of Toby Stone's phenomenal new novel, Psychic Spiders!

George is an unusual spider. Born with the ability to control human thoughts, he has a unique insight into the human psyche. And he doesn't like what he sees. It's time to deal with the problem.

George's crusade to save arachnidkind takes him on warped journey through the city, to the one place where he can make his voice heard - the local television station. But George's quest for media domination brings him up against an array of unlikely opponents: Igor, a troubled man long abandoned to a nursing home by his angry daughter; Tobias, a sensitive spider with a fondness for Countdown; Captain Ahab, a man with no past (that he can remember, anyway). And it's only a matter of time before George's activities catch the attention of The Web - a shadowy organisation whose furry legs stretch around the globe.

Will George succeed? Will humanity survive? Will television ever be the same again?

Join us on the 29th to welcome our new arachnid overloads. Readings from the author, free wine reception and giveaways.

For more information, please visit the Hic Dragones website. And check out Toby Stone's debut novel Aimee and the Bear - 'a book as unique and astonishing as it is chilling'.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Digital Front's Top Ten Werewolf Films: No 1

And so we come to the end of Digital Front's countdown of his Top Ten werewolf films, and the end of #lycanthrovember. I hope you've enjoyed this Top Ten - and leave your comments below if you disagree with any of the choices!

All that remains is to reveal Digital Front's selection for the No. 1 slot - the best werewolf film of all time. To be honest, if you've been reading this countdown from No. 10 and you still need me to reveal the film that came in at No. 1, then I'm going to have to sentence you to watch all 5 Twilight films (that's right - both parts of Breaking Dawn) as a punishment. And maybe Red Riding Hood too - it depends how cruel I'm feeling.

Digital Front's No. 1 werewolf film is (of course)...

An American Werewolf in London (1981)






Director: John Landis
Stars: David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, John Woodvine
Tagline: Beware the Moon

Summary:
Two American college students on a walking tour of Britain are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists.

Digital Front's Review:
An American Werewolf in London was released the same year as The Howling, but somehow has fared much better against the ravages of time than its rival.

Two American students are backpacking around Europe and find themselves in the Yorkshire Dales. They come across a remote village where the locals are inhospitable to say the least, not taking kindly to a couple of strangers in their midst. After being made aware they're really not welcome, they head back out into the night with a few words of advice: "Stay on the road. Keep clear of the moors." Advice that they accidentally ignore, resulting with one of them dead and the other seriously injured.

The surviving tourist, David Kessler (David Naughton), awakes in a London hospital under the care of Dr Hirsch (John Woodvine) and Nurse Price (Jenny Agutter), who inform him of his friend's demise and David's lucky escape from an attack by "a madman". But David insists they were attacked by an animal, not a man.

David eventually leaves the hospital under the care of Nurse Price who offers him a place to stay for a few days. David is plagued by horrific dreams and thinks he's losing his mind as he is also visited by his dead friend who informs him that he is now a werewolf and should kill himself before he hurts anyone. What soon follows is one of the most iconic scenes in cinema history, as David does indeed transform into a werewolf, just as his friend Jack had warned.

There aren't many films that have successfully combined horror and comedy. An American Werewolf in London achieves this with perfect precision - at its heart is a horror with enough blood and gore to satisfy any fan, while the constant undercurrent of humour provides enough charm and relief to prevent the darker elements from becoming exhausting.

Incidentally, this film did lead to a sequel (An American Werewolf in Paris), but it's certainly one to avoid in my opinion.

Though it's probably no surprise to find this film happily sitting at the top of the pile in the No. 1 slot, it's No. 1 for many people for a very good reason. It's the perfect werewolf film.

***

So... I hope you've enjoyed this countdown of werewolf cinema, brought to you by my lovely husband. I'm now off to go through his choices and completely disagree with them in the comments section. If you've liked this Top Ten, I'm planning on posting a countdown of my own shortly - this time, the Top Ten werewolf novels. Watch this space! Awwwooooooo!

Go on... you know you want to listen to this song right now...


Digital Front's Top Ten Werewolf Films: No. 2

And so we near the end of Digital Front's lycanthropic countdown. Time to announce the runner-up...

Drum roll please...

In second place, it's...

Dog Soldiers (2002)






Director: Neil Marshall
Stars: Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd, Emma Cleasby
Tagline: Six soldiers. Full moon. No chance.

Summary:
A routine military exercise in the highlands of Scotland turns very bloody very quickly.

Digital Front's Review:
A squad of British soldiers lead by Sergeant Wells (Sean Pertwee) are on a training exercise in Scotland only to discover the massacred remains of the special forces squad they have been pitted against. It's not long before they encounter what was behind the brutal slayings and, as they're only armed with blanks, decide to get the hell out of there.

They're saved by Megan (Emma Cleasby) who takes them to a nearby farmhouse and fills them in on the local wildlife - werewolves as it happens. The same werewolves that soon lay siege to the farmhouse leaving the weaponless soldiers and Megan completely stranded and battling for their lives.

This is not a complicated film by any stretch. It's a 'cabin in the woods' scenario with a group of people stranded and fighting for their lives by whatever means necessary - but it's a formula that has worked to great effect for countless classics and Dog Soldiers is no exception. There's plenty of humour, horror, action, a revelation (fair enough it could be seen from miles away but the film is too enjoyable for that to be a negative point), a noble sacrifice, and a satisfying resolution. Spoiler alert - the dog makes it out unscathed too, so gets to join the likes of Jones the Cat in the Horror Film Pet Survivors Hall of Fame.

Another aspect of the film I've always loved is the werewolves themselves. There's no crazy CGI effects on show... instead the filmmakers opted for brief glimpses of the creatures and that's always far more effective in my view.

The soldiers rendered impotent by their absence of firepower are entirely believable and serve as an interesting contrast to Megan, the only female in the film, who is much stronger and collected throughout. Then again, perhaps she knows something that they don't.

All in all, a fantastic werewolf romp that hits all the right notes for me.

Click here to find out what's at No. 1!

Or go back to No. 3!

Digital Front's Top Ten Werewolf Films: No. 3

So we enter the Top Three of Digital Front's Top Ten werewolf films... so let's find out which lycanthropic gem scooped the bronze medal...

Ginger Snaps (2000)





Director: John Fawcett
Stars: Emily Perkins, Katharine Isabelle, Kris Lemche
Tagline: She's got the curse.

Summary:
Two sisters must deal with the tragic consequences when one of them is bitten by a werewolf.

Digital Front's Review:
In stark contrast to many of the films in this werewolf Top Ten, Ginger Snaps is quite a dark, sombre and gory film.

The story centres around two sisters, Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) and Brigette (Emily Perkins), whose hobby is photographing death scenes that they've staged and making pacts about dying together. This idyllic existence isn't to last though, as Ginger is bitten one night by a werewolf that has been terrorizing the local canine population. This life changing event also happens on the same day as Ginger gets her first period.

Ginger then starts to gradually change, both physically and in terms of temperament, and Brigette is locked in a race against time to save her sister.

Ginger Snaps is similar to The Company of Wolves in terms of the underlying narrative focusing on the transformation to womanhood, but takes a slightly different direction by drawing reasonably blunt but not overstated direct comparisons to werewolves rather than helpless innocent women being preyed upon.

It's a welcome change watching a werewolf film that isn't dominated by big beastly hirsute men and helpless weak women, but sadly Ginger Snaps falls into a minority in that respect.

The film has spawned two sequels (Ginger Snaps II: Unleashed and Ginger Snaps Back) but sadly they are considerably weaker than the original. I'm undecided if that's because they are genuinely just not up to par or that Ginger Snaps was just too damned good to follow up. This film is one of a kind and just has to be in any serious werewolf fan's collection.

Click here for No. 2!

Or go back to No. 4!

Digital Front's Top Ten Werewolf Films: No. 4

We're counting down the Top Ten werewolf films (according to the lovely Digital Front). In fourth place, it's...

Wolf (1994)






Director: Mike Nichols
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer, James Spader
Tagline: The animal is out.

Summary:
An ageing publisher is down on his luck, until he is bitten by a wolf and suddenly finds himself rejuvenated.

Digital Front's Review:
Wolf is a bit difficult to categorize - it's not a traditional horror, drama or thriller... it's an off-beat combination of the three.

Will Randall (Nicholson) is a meek and mild-mannered literary editor who loses his job, his wife, and to top it all off is bitten by a wolf. To rub his nose in it a little further, he also discovers that Stewart Swinton (Spader) has not only taken Will's job, but is also the man that has been having an affair with his wife.

However, it's not all doom and gloom for Will as he discovers that since being bitten by the wolf, his senses are starting to get much stronger. And he has so much more energy too. Actually I lied, it is still a bit doom and gloom because all this power comes at a price - Will has also started to have blackouts which always coincide with a tragedy (for example, his wife's murder). And Will also comes to realize he's actually starting to look more and more like a wolf...

Will meets his former boss's daughter, Laura (Pfeiffer), and amid their burgeoning relationship he turns to her for help fearing the worst about his blackouts and growing animalistic urges.

And I'm going to leave it there, because otherwise I'll ruin the film for anyone who hasn't seen it.

The reason Wolf ranks so highly in this list is because it just has a real charm about it. As I mentioned at the beginning, this isn't a standard werewolf film. It's very tongue-in-cheek, and as you'd expect with the calibre of talent on show the performances by the cast are absolutely top notch. Highly recommended.

Click here for No. 3!

Or go back to No. 5!

Digital Front's Top Ten Werewolf Films: No. 5

We're currently counting down Digital Front's Top Ten werewolf films, to celebrate the last day of #lycanthrovember. And at No. 5...

Silver Bullet (1985)






Director: Daniel Attias
Stars: Gary Busey, Megan Follows, Corey Haim
Tagline: When darkness falls, terror rises.

Summary:
A werewolf terrorizes a small town where only a young paralytic boy knows the truth behind the spate of killings.

Digital Front's Review: Based on a Stephen King novella called Cycle of the Werewolf, Silver Bullet takes place in Tarker's Mills - a trademark King sleepy New England town. Well, not such a sleepy town anymore. Someone is stalking Tarker's Mills every full moon and ripping people to pieces...

Naturally, all the inhabitants of this small town believe a serial killer is on the loose. All except Marty (Corey Haim), a young disabled boy. He believes a werewolf is to blame.

Cue an expected turn of events - the townsfolk form vigilante groups and hunt the killer, only to be picked off in the process, and Marty's sceptical sister Jane (Megan Follows) accepts his werewolf theory after the two have a run-in with the beast. The pair then hunt down the man behind the furry transformations.

Silver Bullet isn't original, it's not groundbreaking, it's not cerebral in any way. But it is a lot of fun, and that's an element I find missing from many werewolf films.

Click here for No. 4!

Or go back to No. 6!

Digital Front's Top Ten Werewolf Films: No. 6

And at No. 6 in Digital Front's Top Ten Werewolf Films...

The Howling (1981)






Director: Joe Dante
Stars: Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, Dennis Dugan
Tagline: Imagine your worst fear a reality.

Summary:
After a near fatal encounter with a serial killer, a television reporter is sent to a remote mountain resort whose residents may not be what they seem.

Digital Front's Review:
This is one of the bigger werewolf films of our time. After a near death experience at the hands of a notorious murderer, reporter Karen undertakes a course of therapy at a secluded retreat called The Colony.

Predictably, this gives plenty of opportunity for howls from the forest at night, mutilated animals in the forest, and strange inhabitants at The Colony. This also gives rise (no pun intended) to a fair amount of carnal activity, which does underline the animalistic nature of Karen's newly acquired co-inhabitants but also feels a little gratuitous.

Although the film hasn't aged particularly well, The Howling marries a decent storyline and horror in an almost perfect ratio, producing a classic and watchable werewolf flick.

Click here for No. 5!

Or go back to No. 7!

Digital Front's Top Ten Werewolf Films: No. 7

We're now at No. 7 in Digital Front's top ten werewolf films... and in at seventh place, we have...

Bad Moon (1996)






Director: Eric Red
Stars: Mariel Hemingway, Michael Paré, Mason Gamble
Tagline: Half man. Half wolf. Total terror.

Summary:
While on assignment in a remote jungle, an American photojournalist is attacked by a fearsome werewolf. He survives the encounter with only a nasty bite, but becomes a werewolf himself. Appalled by his bloodthirst, Ted goes to stay with his sister in the hope that she can stop him, but her dog knows his secret.

Digital Front's Review:
Bad Moon is one of those hidden gems. You'd be forgiven for never having heard of this film, and if that's the case you're really missing out.

Distilled to its basic elements, Bad Moon could have been called "Werewolf Versus German Shepherd". A photographer (Ted) is bitten by a werewolf while on assignment. Disgusted by what he's become, Ted goes to stay with his sister (Janet), her son (Brett), and their pet dog (Thor). And Thor is really not happy about having a werewolf living under the same roof.

Don't misunderstand me, Bad Moon is not a flawless masterpiece of cinema by any stretch. It's clearly low budget, and some of the acting really grates (particularly Brett). The werewolf itself isn't exactly convincing either and everything is a bit rough round the edges, but none of these things derail a very decent film.

Where Bad Moon shines (no pun intended) is with a slight departure from the standard werewolf fare but also the real star of the film. Thor. Trust me, you'll be rooting for that fella.

Click here for No. 6!

Or go back to No. 8!

Digital Front's Top Ten Werewolf Films: No. 8

And at No. 8 in Digital Front's Top Ten werewolf films, we have...

The Company of Wolves (1984)






Director: Neil Jordan
Stars: Sarah Patterson, Angela Lansbury, David Warner
Tagline: The desire... the fantasy... the nightmare.

Summary:
After hearing her grandmother's stories about dangerous men, a 13-year-old girl has nightmares that transform her into Little Red Riding Hood.

Digital Front's Review:
Based on Angela Carter's short story of the same name, and co-written by Carter and director Neil Jordan, The Company of Wolves is a fantasy dream world containing dreams within that dream. Rosaleen is a young girl haunted by her grandmother's stories that serve as a warning to be wary of men, particularly those whose eyebrows meet in the middle.

It's quite a difficult film to make sense of at times, and its highly stylized macabre tone can be quite unsettling. Littered with coming of age sexual undertones, The Company of Wolves is a metaphor whereby the innocent Little Red Riding Hood is suddenly exposed to a world where werewolves, or beastly men, prey upon women.

Essentially, if you're looking to rip open the popcorn and enjoy some mindless gruesome werewolf action then you will be sorely disappointed.

Moving along from the cerebral aspect however, on another level this is a beautiful film. The production is as clever as the narrative, and although it's now 30 years old the imagery is really quite breathtaking at times, shunning creepy forests for obvious sets that somehow really add to the viewers immersion into the dream world on show.

Yes, it's weird. Yes, it's occasionally difficult to follow. But this film has charm, originality, and vivid visuals that take it to a whole new level and hopefully may inspire more werewolf films to take a path lesser travelled.

Click here for No. 7!

Or go back to No. 9!

Digital Front's Top Ten Werewolf Films: No. 9

Continuing Digital Front's countdown of the Top Ten Werewolf films... in 9th place we have...

The Wolfman (2010)





Director: Joe Johnston
Stars: Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt
Tagline: The legend is alive.

Summary:
A practical man returns to his homeland, is attacked by a creature of folklore, and infected with a horrific disease his disciplined mind tells him can not possibly exist.

Digital Front's Review:
A remake of the 1941 film starring Lon Chaney Jr., The Wolfman boasts a healthy cast of big names, big production values, and beautifully captures a dark and foreboding Victorian gothic atmosphere. Everything is dark and subdued - not only the visuals, but (on the whole) the performances as well.

As a horror fan, the addition of gore to the remake is also very welcome, updating the more family friendly format of the original. Anthony Hopkins is, as you'd expect, thoroughly dark and turns in a great turn as Lord Talbot.

There are disappointments however. The eponymous wolfman, in being faithful to the original, doesn't really fit with the polished visuals of the 2010 version. I appreciate the decision to not rely on CG and stick with prosthetics, but it never really hits the mark. And Del Toro, while arguably a great actor, for me is miscast in this film.

On the whole, The Wolfman is a little too subdued and in places really drags its heels. At times it feels like there was never a definitive vision that would add to the original, but it's definitely worth taking a peek at.

Click here for No. 8!

Or go back to No. 10!

Digital Front's Top Ten Werewolf Films: No. 10

To celebrate the end of #lycanthrovember (which, admittedly, seems to have run slightly longer than November as originally planned), I asked independent musician and husband-of-me, Digital Front to come up with his top ten werewolf films. Let's see how many you agree with!

And so... in 10th place...

Underworld (2003)





Director: Len Wiseman
Stars: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Michael Sheen
Tagline: An immortal battle for supremacy.

Summary:
Vampires and Lycans have been warring for centuries. Vampire Selene wonders why the enemy are interested in a particular human, Michael, but when she discovers a conspiracy between a Vampire traitor and a Lycan leader, she is forced to question her own origins.

Digital Front's review:
Underworld has all the ingredients for an amazing film - vampires and werewolves have been at war for centuries, beating the stuffing out of each other on a regular basis in a battle for supremacy and world domination. It's stylish, dark, and I really want to love the film.

And that's why it's in this list, albeit at the very bottom. Underworld should be a fantastic action fantasy exploring a power struggle between legendary monsters... but what we get is essentially a visually stunning but hollow film, trading an amazing plot opportunity for countless fight scenes that rapidly become dull carbon copies of each other.

There are a few sequels to the film, but Underworld is by far the better of the franchise. That isn't really saying much, sadly.

If you like your films to look nice, dish out lots of fight scenes, and have Kate Beckinsale in a tight leather fetish catsuit - Underworld will certainly keep you entertained. If however you like a substantial plot tying everything together, then Underworld is really not for you.

Click here for No. 9!

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

#lycanthrovember

As some of you might have seen, Hic Dragones have been talking a bit about #lycanthrovember, so I thought I'd do a quick blog post about it. #lycanthrovember was my idea, as basically a month-long version of #WerewolfWednesday. (And yes, I did come up with the name. And no, it's not my best work.) It's shaping up to be quite a werewolf-y month for me, so I thought it would be cool to share the lycanthropic love on social media - if you have any werewolf related projects, artwork, books or films, feel free to add the hashtag so we can share them.

To kick off, then, at Hic Dragones are running a November-long offer on K Bannerman's wonderful Canadian werewolf novel The Tattooed Wolf: order the paperback or eBook from the Hic Dragones website and get our short collection Wolf-Girls: Dark Tales of Teeth, Claws and Lycogyny absolutely free!


Also from Hic Dragones, if you fancy a bit of Victorian Gothic werewolf fiction, Digital Periodicals is currently serializing George Reynolds' Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf. New instalments are published every fortnight in eBook formats, and are available for the princely sum of £1.


On a personal note, I have a werewolf short story entitled 'Nimby' coming out in the Fox Spirit Books' European Monsters anthology. I'll be blogging a bit more about that as the publication date gets closer. And my academic book on female werewolves (with Manchester University Press) finally has a wonderful cover and a publication date: She-Wolf: a Cultural History of Female Werewolves will be out in April 2015.

Now it's over to you... what werewolf-y things would you like to plug this month?

Happy #lycanthrovember!