Half-man-half-myth, the werewolf has over the years infiltrated popular culture in many strange and varied shapes, from Gothic horror to the 'body horror' films of the 1980s and today's graphic novels. Yet despite enormous critical interest in myths and in monsters, from vampires to cyborgs, the figure of the werewolf has been strangely overlooked. Embodying our primal fears - of anguished masculinity, of 'the beast within' - the werewolf, argues Bourgault du Coudray, has revealed in its various lupine guises radically shifting attitudes to the human psyche. Tracing the werewolf's 'use' by anthropologists and criminologists and shifting interpretations of the figure - from the 'scientific' to the mythological and psychological - Bourgault du Coudray also sees the werewolf in Freud's 'wolf-man' case and the sinister use of wolf imagery in Nazism. "The Curse of the Werewolf" looks finally at the werewolf's revival in contemporary fantasy, finding in this supposedly conservative genre a fascinating new model of the human's relationship to nature. It is a required reading for students of fantasy, myth and monsters. No self-respecting werewolf should be without it.
Chantal Bourgault du Coudray is Lecturer in Communication Studies at the University of Western Australia. She is also, in partnership with writer/director Christopher Kenworthy, an award-winning filmmaker and screenwriter.