Craig J. Clark || Interview with a werewolf

What got you into werewolves and how old were you when you discovered them?

I couldn’t say how old I was when I discovered werewolves — it seems like I’ve never not been aware of them — but I got into them in a big way in college when I rented An American Werewolf in London and The Howling at my local video store one summer. I’d never seen anything like either of them before; Rick Baker’s transformation sequence in American Werewolf literally took my breath away. And not long after that, I saw Bram Stoker’s Dracula and was riveted by the scene where the count turns into a wolf-beast. It’s safe to say I’ve been riveted by them ever since.

Do you share the same love of other types of shapeshifters?

I can honestly say I don’t. I can appreciate a good transformation, but unless the subject is changing into a hairy beast, I’m just not going to be that intrigued.

What do you think it is that attracts you to werewolves?

I won’t deny there’s something of a power fantasy involved. To me, werewolves exude an aura of strength and hypermasculinity. That’s definitely something I respond to.

Do you prefer a gory werewolf tale or a more modernised, romanticised version?

Do I have to pick one or the other? I’m not a huge gore hound, but neither am I into paranormal romances, either.

What does the ideal werewolf look like in your opinion?

For starters, they’re bipedal. None of this running around on all fours. They have to be hairy all over their body, not just tufts of fur here and there. And it’s best if they’re unclothed, because wolf men have a way of looking faintly ridiculous in people clothes.

Give some cinematic examples of your ideal werewolf.

The ones in The Howling are probably the closest to my ideal. Eddie Quist is an amazing creation and I give Rob Bottin full marks for bringing him into the world.

What should a werewolf NOT look like in your opinion?

They shouldn’t look like a series of ones and zeroes. Unfortunately, that’s what many of them do nowadays.

Give a cinematic example of a werewolf that didn’t quite meet your expectations.

There are so many to choose from, but the ones in 1995’s Werewolf — memorably given the business by the good folks at Mystery Science Theater 3000 — are about as pathetic-looking as they come.

Stepping away from the cinematic side of things, what is your favourite werewolf novel?

If graphic novels count, then it would be Werewolves of Montpellier by the Norwegian cartoonist Jason, which is about a cat burglar who wears a werewolf mask while committing his nocturnal crimes and runs afoul of a group of actual werewolves. If they don’t, then I would say The Werewolf of Paris by Guy Endore. (I own many more werewolf reference books than works of fiction.)

Back to cinema, what is your favourite werewolf film?

An American Werewolf in London, without question. Even if David Kessler turns into a four-legged beast, his doomed romance with Alex Price gets me every single time.

Do you have any werewolf related songs to recommend?

“I Was a Teenage Werewolf” by the Cramps is a personal favorite.

What do you think of the way representation of werewolves has changed over the years? (In both literature and cinema.)

I believe there’s something to be said for sticking with the classics, and one of the most classic werewolf tales, Universal’s The Wolf Man from 1941, is really a tragedy in the guise of a monster movie. John Landis knew that, which is why An American Werewolf in London is as effective — and affecting — as it is.

Tell me something that makes the werewolves in your works unique, what makes them special?

In the stories I’ve written, the werewolves are just ordinary people trying to figure out how to adjust to their new lives and where they fit into the larger world. They’re not heroes or villains, and they don’t allow themselves to be victims or feel sorry for themselves.

What are you other passions? Vampires, zombies? Body horror? Etc etc.

I like horror films in general, but I gravitate more toward individual directors (Dario Argento, Mario Bava, John Carpenter, Roger Corman, Wes Craven, David Cronenberg, Brian De Palma, Guillermo del Toro, Michael Dougherty, Stuart Gordon, Tobe Hooper, Roman Polanski, Sam Raimi, George A. Romero, Ti West) than specific subgenres.

Tell us about your most recent werewolf related work.

Apart from my Full Moon Features for Werewolf News , where I review a new werewolf movie every month, my most recent werewolf-related work is “All the Wrong Places,” the short story I wrote for Werewolves Versus Romance, a pay-what-you-like webzine that is available now
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Who is your favourite character within your own work and why?

Right now that would be David, the main werewolf in “All the Wrong Places.” He’s also the story’s narrator, so it was a lot of fun to get into his head as he tried to figure out how to deal with his blind date, who turns out to be human.

Do you have any big upcoming plans relating to werewolves?

I would like to publish a collection of all my werewolf movie reviews at some point. I’ve seen more 130 werewolf (and werewolf-related) films over the years. and reviewed nearly all of them. I’d like to think that makes me something of an authority on them. In the meantime, I’ve been tapped to write a Run the Series article on the Howling franchise for the A.V. Club, which should be running within the next month or so. I look forward to seeing that.

Where will you be available to meet fans in the near future, if you are doing any outings or signings?

I’m afraid not.

What do you think of the furry movement and how it has affected the way people perceive werewolves?

To be honest, I’m not sure what effect it has had. If there’s any cross-pollination there, I don’t see why it would change the way the average person on the street thinks about them.

Vampires and zombies have both had some serious popularity in the last few years; what do you think needs to happen to give werewolves that same boost? (Because whatever it is we need to make it happen!)

Put simply, we need to tell more compelling stories. Werewolves can capture the public’s imagination just as well as vampires and zombies have. Give viewers/readers well-drawn characters to care about and they’ll want to follow them.