I was thinking about werewolves this morning, & whatever happened to them. I mean, vampires are still alive & kicking...so to speak. The urban setting of the modern world opens up new possibilities for vampires, & people are still dying & having sex. Their psychological & mythological roots are secure. Werewolves, on the other hand...they just seem like an "et cetra" after vampires. Classic monsters lacking any actual oomph. Oh, there are a few good stories, there is life in the old trope yet, but it is waning. Fading. The better werewolf stories are set in the past, or in fantasy settings-- Red Riding Hood wasn't a good movie but was a decent werewolf yarn-- but generally I find them...flat. Twilight deals with them by trading on...insulting assumptions about Native Americans. Okay, at least playing on racial tension is a thing that is valid in the modern world. There are race & class divides, that is a real thing. Underworld makes them monsters-- & in both film series, they are very much also-rans. They are there to fill the other half of the vampire equation. The problem is that humans don't really suffer predation anymore...not even really at the fringes. There isn't a frontier, there isn't a wilderness. When "wolf" meant "animals from the wild," the werewolf-as-monster had kick to it, but civilization has marched on. America was tamed-- the American West was a great breeding ground for monster, & the popularity of the Weird West stands testament to that. Africa & Southeast Asia were colonialist frontiers, but those were hastily abandoned by the West, & besides, the arrogance of the departing colonialist powers was sort of their defining characteristic.
I guess my thesis here is that there are werewolf stories now; we just call them aliens. That is the big unknown, the big Outside-- Space. The, if you'll pardon me for saying it, final frontier. & Here There Be Dragons, you know what I mean? Hell...there is even the body horror element of it. Alien & Aliens aren't far from being werewolf stories. It isn't "I was bit by a wolf & now I turn into one" but "I was attacked by a facehugger & then I hatched a monster" is just a smidgen removed. The element of the invasion, of the enemy among you, that is a hallmark of the alien story & the werewolf story. Much as "alien abduction" has taken over for stories of being taken to the otherworld of the fey, I think the stories of pod people & alien infection are the new werewolves. I think about other ways to have werewolves, & I think that-- well, I think that the direction George R.R. Martin goes with it is pretty good. First, let me address Werewolf: the Forsaken. There are...well, there is just too much stuff going on. I like that Werewolf addresses the shamanic roots of the werewolf myth (as does A Song of Ice & Fire) but the "wolf" aspect is too jumbled. I've never liked the fact that you can choose between man, wolf-man, wolf-monster, dire wolf & wolf. Just clutter. In there, though, is the thing that I think is genius-- the dire wolf. Yeah, actually...let's take that over the top. Not just dire wolf but monster, just pure apex predator. An apex predator of a supernatural world, of a spiritual place. Turn "wolf" up to eleven. Sabertooth fangs & opposable claws & just monster. The Dream of the Wolf. The Fear of the Dark.