A game played with preferably large numbers of people. One person is the moderator or game master or whatever you want to call him/her. Three people are werewolfs. One person is a seer. The rest are villagers.

The game proceeds in cycles, referred to as days. In the 'night' phase of the cycle, everyone closes their eyes. The moderator says "seer, pick someone to scry." The seer opens his/her eyes points to someone and the moderator nods if the target is a werewolf, and shakes his/her head if the target is not. Then the seer closes his/her eyes and the moderator says "werewolves, pick someone to kill." The werewolves all open their eyes and decide, by silent pointing and gesturing, on a single person to kill. Then the werewolves close their eyes and the moderator says "wake up." Everyone wakes up. The moderator announces the person that the werewolves have killed, and that person is out of the game.

In the 'day' phase of the cycle, the villagers decide on whom to lynch for being a werewolf. At any point a villager may say "I call a vote on so-and-so." Everyone who wants this person lynched raises their hands. As soon as a majority of people raise their hands, that person is dead and the game proceeds to the next cycle. If a majority is not reached, then the vote fails and the villagers have to continue deciding who to kill.

The game is won by the villagers when all the werewolves are dead. The game is won by the werewolves when they equal the villagers in number.

Who is a werewolf, and who is a seer, is of course secretly and randomly determined at the start of the game. Villagers may not claim to be the seer, but both the seer and the werewolves may.

The rules are fairly simple but game play ends up being very complicated. The seer will often know if a particular person is a werewolf or not, and could make this known during arguments about whom to lynch. But if the seer makes his/her identity known, then the werewolves will kill him that night, and the villagers will have no more seer. The werewolves want to lynch villagers, but don't want to appear too bloodthirsty or everyone will think they are werewolves and lynch them. The villagers just want to not be lynched, but they have no way of proving they aren't werewolves.

Note that when someone is killed, no information about the type of person killed (werewolf, seer, or villager) is provided.

The game can be incredibly cool or painfully lame. The first time I played it, people just wanted to lynch others and had no real care about winning or losing. The second time, people were very careful and thoughtful about who to lynch, and the game was much more complicated and interesting. The fascination of the game comes from trying to make decisions in the face of imperfect information combined with misinformation.

FWIW, I have never seen the villagers win a game. The closest I've seen is the villagers get down to one werewolf and two villagers, and then lynch the wrong villager. Me, as it turned out.

I've also heard of this game being called Mafia and Witch, with different names for the kinds of participants.

A person who can transform into a wolf. The scientific term for this -- which describes both the mythological monster and the psychological defect -- is lycanthropy, and the werewolf is called a lycanthrope or, more rarely, a lycanthropist. In myth and legend, the cause was often black magic -- the werewolf made a deal with the devil for the ability to change into a monster and eat people. But sometimes, the werewolf was the victim of a curse or was even a good person who used his ability to do good deeds.

Werewolf myths and legends are present in some form in almost every culture in the world, from the loup garou in France to the fox people of China and Japan to the boudas, or hyena people, of Morocco to the santu sakai of Malaysia to the Nagas, or snake people, of India to the skinwalkers of the Navajo...

In many tribal cultures, where the wolf was respected as a hunter, the wolf was emulated or even worshipped, and hunters sought to take on the characteristics of a wolf so they could bring food back for the tribe. Later, as humanity became a more agricultural species, the wolf became an enemy, and the Church decreed that werewolves were in league with Satan. A number of people in the Dark Ages were executed for being werewolves, but eventually, even the Catholic Church realized that lycanthropy was a mental illness and began recommending that no more werewolf executions take place.

Nowadays, the werewolf is most visible as the star of various movies, including "The Wolf Man," "I Was a Teenage Werewolf," "An American Werewolf in London," "Ginger Snaps," and many others. Werewolves also pop up in books, TV shows, video games, comic books, roleplaying games, and even songs (most famously in Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London"). There is also a small subculture of werewolf fans/new agers/neo-tribalists who claim that they can psychically change into werewolves -- though since it all takes place on the astral plane, it's kinda tough to confirm their claims.

Symbolically, the werewolf usually represents the struggle between man's civilized nature and his base, animal side. Every person, no matter how good, humane, and cultured he or she may be, harbors the occasional desire to raise hell, to live the wild life, to throw off the shackles of civilization, howl at the moon, and tear our co-workers' throats out. But who will win out -- the man or the beast...?

I don't believe it! All these writeups and not a single mention of the full moon? Werewolves traditionally (in other words, in Discworld, all the films and other contemporary culture items) must convert to their wolf form at the full moon. Some have control over their form at other times, others must remain human for the rest of the month... but the full moon is the traditional time for hunting, as creatures are sleepy and dumb, and there is more light at this time than any other, as well as there being light for the whole night.


Genre: Horror
Released: 1996
Produced and Directed by: Tony Zarindast
  • Jorge Rivero - Yuri
  • Richard Lynch - Noel
  • Federico Cavalli - Paul Niles
  • Adrianna Miles - Natalie Burke
Other: 40th lowest ranked movie on IMDb

Plot Summary and Review:

Most horror movies have a sub-standard plot. You don't watch them for high drama, you watch them to see some guy get his face eaten by the monster of the week. Werewolf is no exception to this rule; indeed, it serves as a benchmark for how little plot can be spread in a little more than an hour and a half of film. In addition to a poor plot, the movie is plagued by poor lighting, poor set design, poor cinematography, and poor acting. About the only redeeming quality of the movie is the costume design for the monsters, but that doesn't save the movie from being absolutely dreadful.

The plot, as much as there is one, is that an archaeological dig in Arizona has discovered an unusual find, that of a Werewolf's skeleton. Shortly thereafter, a fist fight breaks out, and one of the dig assistants falls on, and is cut by the werewolf skeleton. He promptly falls ill and is hospitalized. That night, he becomes a werewolf, attacks several hospital employees, and runs off into the night. Shortly thereafter, he is brought down with silver shotgun shells; Big 5 must have been out of the standard silver bullets that day.

Seeing all the havoc the werewolf did, Yuri, the man in charge of the dig, decides to inject one of the security guards with the blood of the dig worker, turning the guard into a werewolf as well. The guard is promptly killed in a fiery car crash, and thus, doesn't get to go on a killing spree like all good werewolves should be able to do. As a result, Yuri is upset that he doesn't get to watch the carnage.

Enter our hero Paul. After being asked by Natalie, another person working the archaeological dig, to look at the werewolf skeleton, he heads to the lab where the skeleton is being held and examines the artifact. While examining the skeleton, he is attacked by Yuri, who wants as few people as possible to know about the existence of the skeleton. In the ensuing fist fight, Yuri removes the skull from the presumably priceless skeleton, and uses it to deliver a nasty cut to Paul. Due to this injury, Paul becomes a werewolf later that night.

As werewolves tend to do, Paul goes on a bloody rampage, killing the movie's nameless token well-endowed female. Feeling frightened at his actions, he hides himself in a corner of his house. Yuri discovers this, and goes off to capture Paul in the hopes of publicly displaying him and becoming very wealthy. In the ensuing fight, Yuri is killed. The film ends with Paul back at his house with Natalie, kissing. As Natalie turns to face the camera, we see that she too must have been attacked somewhere along the line, for she is showing those tell-tale signs of being a werewolf.

As far as the mechanics of the film go, they are as bad as the plot. There are scenes which have nothing to do with the film, awful lighting, awful sound, awful dialogue, and awful sets. Most horror movies have dimly lit rooms and shadowy figures, but Werewolf takes these two staples too far, and one finds themself squinting to see what's going on in the film, even when there is no need for the suspense dim lighting brings. Additionally, it's clear that there was very little budget for sets in the movie. The two most prominent examples of this are a scene which is supposedly in a hospital room looks like it was done in someone's house, and another scene is supposedly in a tent, but no tent I know of has wood paneling and drywall. About fifteen minutes into watching the film, one realizes that the entire movie has about as much production value as the typical high school play, maybe even less than that. Because of all the cheesy production, it's almost unfortunate that the makeup effects are so good.

Simply put, the makeup effects, which are the bread and butter of any horror movie, are the best thing in this movie. Indeed, they are as good, if not better, than those found in any big budget horror film. They look fairly realistic, not like the cheap rubber masks found in most horror films from the fifties and sixties. The actors obviously had a lot of practice working with the latex, as the facial movements are top notch, pretty much what you'd expect a werewolf's facial expressions to look like. It's simply a shame that such good latex had to be sacrificed on such a bad movie, as there have been a lot of decent werewolf movies brought down by simply horrendous costume design.

As with any bad movie, this film is best enjoyed with lots of friends and your favorite ceremonial substances. There are several scenes which are laughably bad, lots of opportunities for wisecracks. Just don't try to understand it, because there truly is nothing underneath the latex of the werewolf masks. If you're an aficionado of bad movies, you'll love this one, anyone else should run away from this one, as it's just plain awful.

Another suggested source for werewolves is that they are wolves who have managed to turn themselves into humans - most of the time. I first encountered this with Stan Freberg's Madison Avenue Werewolf, where a wolf transforms into an advertising executive. I next encountered this idea in Larry Niven's fantasy setting (it seems at first somewhat out of character, no? However, it is handled in proper Niven style).

Animals becoming humans is not a new idea. The pink dolphins of some rivers in South America are believed by superstitious locals to be able to become humans. One can find them at dances, only to disappear before dawn - sometimes after conceiving a child!

The werewolf's day/night dichotomy is related to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde more than, say, the day/night inversion of vampires. It indicates that there are two competing modes of thought: civilized or wild, thoughtful or thoughtless, morally aware or not. This interpretation of werewolves is standard enough that it has been used to indicate a state of psyche, even without a physical transformation. Hesse's Steppenwolf conceptualizes himself at first as a man-wolf, a shifting psyche half wild and half civilized.


The Werewolf and the Vampire have always been rivals for the hearts of horror fans and casual moviegoers alike. With their sharply differing natures, the two horrors came to represent different aspects of evil, equally fearsome and attractive at the same time. In the last twenty years or so, however, things changed for the two creatures, and vampires became vastly more popular than werewolves. While lycanthropes remained fairly common figures of horror, vampires suddenly became heroes to an entire vast subculture several times larger than the Goth crowd from which it sprang. At first glance, it might seem that the change was mostly due to the enormous popularity of Anne Rice's Lestat books and 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'.

But that was a symptom, not the cause. The real reason for the vampire's elevated status is simple - vampires are everything modern culture encourages us to be. The archetypal vampire is now charming and intelligent, romantic and sophisticated. He has extended his lifespan through cold calculation, obstinacy and selfishness, and most importantly of all, a vision of the long term. We see vampires as supernatural yuppies now. Even their appearance, once a liability that marked them as menacing outsiders, has become an asset. After all, pale skin and gaunt features are the new look of health, and everybody wears black. The vampires in 'Blade' look exactly like the cool kids, so much so that for the second Blade film it was necessary to invent a new kind of vampire to horrify the audience. This new creature was dumber than the others, and far more bestial, and it was nothing at all like the traditional vampire. The new evil vampire looked, at first sight, fairly normal - until it got hungry or angry. Then its savage nature came out, and the thing's face split in half to reveal an enormous maw. This beastie didn't fool around with delicately sucking blood from its victims' necks. It bit off their faces.

Sound familiar? It should. The antagonists of Blade 2 were, in fact, werewolves. For this is the essence of the werewolf legend. Fur and wet noses are only part of the costume. The true nature of the werewolf is savagery hiding under a thin mask of normalcy. The werewolf is the Beast Within, the animal part of our nature that we can never completely eliminate. The lycanthrope doesn't always look like a wolf. Wolves are only the most common form, a natural enough occurrence since the wolf has always been the Northern Hemisphere's most feared predator. History has given us weres in the forms of sharks, tigers, snakes, the abominable Mr. Hyde, and Stan Lee's Incredible Hulk. From the other end of the lycanthropic spectrum, the animals that become humans, we have the foxwomen of Japan and, again, wolves and snakes (note the recurrence of snakes, another type of predator that humanity seems pre-programmed to fear). Blade 2's werewolves were no different, for all that they were tarted up with insectile CG mouths.

While the vampire defies the natural cycle of life and death through obstinacy and selfishness, the werewolf surrenders to a part of nature that most of us would rather deny. The curse of the werewolf cannot be fought with logic, and the archetypal victims of lycanthropy are actually the most civilized and logical specimens of humanity. Consider the heroine's boyfriend in 'the Howling' - the very model of a modern enlightened man. He is a vegetarian and a genuine Sensitive Guy, and we know he is doomed from the moment we see him voraciously downing a hamburger that's hardly even looked at a flame. This isn't healthy, and it certainly isn't attractive. But, as Sensitive Boyfriend soon finds out, it's delicious.

This is the fundamental danger of lycanthropy. We know that almost every aspect of the disease is disgusting, but our revulsion doesn't help us fight it. For all the walls of morality, propriety and culture we erect around our animal hearts, we can still hear the call of the wild. Most of us, I optimistically believe, desire to be good people. But I believe with equal conviction that hidden inside every one of us is a slavering beast, ready to leap out and attack at a moment's notice. In the most frequently quoted line from TV's Incredible Hulk, David Banner warns his nemesis, "don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry." But Banner's real problem is that he doesn't like himself when he's angry. None of us do. We fear werewolves, not because they are scary monsters - truth be told, vampires make much scarier villains - but because they are a part of us that we don't like and can't ever get rid of.

This shows in the structure of the various tales of vampires and werewolves. The main thrust of most vampire movies is "vampire attacks, vampire threatens hero's friend or lover, hero kills vampire and frees friend or lover." Occasionally the hero may have to kill the friend or lover, but more often they are saved when the vampire is slain. All of this is usually seen from the hero's viewpoint. Werewolf movies, however, typically follow the effects of the curse much more intimately, and the new werewolf is likely to be the most sympathetic character in the movie, if not the actual protagonist. And he or she almost always dies in great violence, only then returning to the "pure" human form. The moral is that the beast is such a fundamental part of us that it can only be eradicated by killing the human.


Like the curse of lycanthropy, werewolf fiction comes in cycles. Most cycles seem to last fifteen to twenty years. In 'Danse Macabre', published in 1981, Stephen King wrote "there hasn't been a good Werewolf movie in ten or fifteen years", although he took care to note that alternate forms of werewolves, such as the Hulk, had been fairly common. But later that very year, three of the horror genre's finest movies ever were dedicated to werewolves: 'An American Werewolf in London', 'The Howling', and 'Wolfen'. They were all superb, and each one of them explored a very different vision of the Beast. Lycanthropes were back a year later in 'Cat People', which focussed on the animal nature of sexual desire. Another more sympathetic version of lycanthropy drove Neil Jordan's peculiar 'The Company of Wolves' a few years later. It bombed, showing once again that most audiences just aren't prepared to accept werewolves as sympathetic characters. (Then again, it could have been the fact that the movie was absolutely bizarre and completely uncategorizable.)

In any case, when the yuppie culture began to dominate the West, the wolf went back into hiding, leaving Nosferatu to roam virtually unchallenged in movies and books - only to reemerge in the late Nineties, when the vampire craze finally started to die down. The beast within cannot be denied. In the last few years, we've seen several new and uniquely wonderful visions of lycanthropic madness: 'Ginger Snaps', 'Dog Soldiers', and 'The Brotherhood of the Wolf' (which didn't actually feature any shapeshifters, but did deal with humanity's savage nature, which is the real point of any werewolf movie). There was also an execrable sequel to 'American Werewolf in London', but we'll gloss over that one, please. And in Laurel Hamilton's 'Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter' novels, some of the most intriguing characters are lycanthropes, with each werespecies representing a different aspect of humanity.

On TV, in the realm of the other popular Vampire Hunter - sorry, 'Slayer' - Seth Green played an interesting and much-loved werewolf for a couple of seasons, until his film career took off and he left the series. This gave his briefly grieving girlfriend a chance to grow from a shallow sidekick character to a well-rounded fan favourite, currently tipped as the character most likely to star in yet another Buffy spinoff, but that's another story.

And there are more weres on the way. Not only 'pure' werewolf visions, such as the upcoming sequel (AND prequel) to Ginger Snaps, but mutants like the big-screen version of the Hulk. And two upcoming pictures feature werewolves and vampires side by side - there is 'Underworld', about a werewolf-vampire romance (which might sound original, except the Anita Blake novels have been doing it with considerable passion for half a dozen years now), and the probably horrible 'LXG - the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen', which has as core members Jekyll and Hyde and the now vampiric Wilhelmina Murray.

The Moon is on the rise. And about time, too. The werewolf might not be able to overthrow the vampire as the popular favourite - the archetype of the vampire seems too firmly entrenched in modern culture for any serious challenge - but, as far as I'm concerned, the lycanthrope is a far more relevant kind of horror than the pasty-skinned undead. Vampires make for fearsome adversaries, but they are pure fantasy. They are symbols of the unknown darkness outside our campfires. Werewolves, on the other hand, are symbols of a terror we know all too well. They are sitting right there by the fire, inside you and inside me. And I don't think I like the way you stole that last piece of chicken. You shouldn't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.


For anyone who's interested in exploring the nature of the beast, I'll list a few of the finer specimens. These are personal favourites, listed chronologically. I'll show my age by mentioning every one of the 1981 movies favourably.

THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE - the werewolf has only inspired one really good book to date, and this is that book. Sadly, there isn't a single wolf in it. But the demonic Mr. Hyde is undeniably a were, and in the capable hands of Robert Louis Stevenson his tale becomes one of horror's great masterpieces. Legend has it that the first draft of 'Jekyll and Hyde' was so horrifying to Stevenson's wife that he immediately threw it into the fireplace, only to rewrite it at lightning speed three days later. We should all be thankful.

THE WOLF MAN - this is the quintessential werewolf movie, the one that created the modern werewolf. Almost all the well-known aspects of 'traditional' werewolf lore were, in fact, invented in this movie. There's little in it that will actually scare modern audiences, but it's still a fun movie to watch.

AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON - a grimly humourous look at lycanthropy, with absolutely revolutionary makeup and modelling techniques. Inspired a worldwide rash of pubs called "the Slaughtered Lamb", most of them terribly sad places to get drunk in. The sequel is a horrid exploitation flick, to be avoided at all costs.

THE HOWLING - a wonderful "werewolves are among us" movie, slightly more in tune with modern reality than 'American Werewolf'. This one is more about the hideous attraction of lycanthropy, and sex is a key aspect. Again, the makeup is amazing, and the climax is an absolute pantswetter.

WOLFEN - Wolfen was the odd man out in 1981's werewolf trio, and made a lot less money than the other two. One of its most regrettable flaws is the inclusion of a really bad Token Black character and some fairly lame Indian characters, hitting theatres just when audiences were finally getting tired of these stereotypes. Wolfen's portrayal of werewolves is immediately recognizable, however, to anyone who ever played a game of "Werewolf: the Apocalypse". The weres here are wendigos, nature spirits out for revenge on the Stupid White Men who raped the planet and marginalised their more spiritual brethren. You'll note that most of the action takes place in an abandoned church. Wolfen is also notable for being one of the first movies to use distorted camera effects to show things from the creature's point of view.

GINGER SNAPS - this recent Canadian picture is, believe it or not, a coming-of-age movie, linking lycanthropy to a change that all of us are familiar with - the assault of hormones during adolescence, when we first begin to hear the call of our animal nature and the lunar cycle. The teen fascination with sex and death is explored here in hyper-realistic detail, and it's all done with monstrously effective humour. This is one of my all-time favourites, partly due to the fact that its protagonists are a couple of the most believable teen Goths ever shown in a genre that usually exploits the Goth subculture with shallow stereotypes.

Were"wolf` (?), n.; pl. Werewolves (#). [AS. werwulf; wer a man + wulf a wolf; cf. G. warwolf, wahrwolf, wehrwolf, a werewolf, MHG. werwolf. . See Were a man, and Wolf, and cf. Virile, World.]

A person transformed into a wolf in form and appetite, either temporarily or permanently, whether by supernatural influences, by witchcraft, or voluntarily; a lycanthrope. Belief in werewolves, formerly general, is not now extinct.

The werwolf went about his prey. William of Palerne.

The brutes that wear our form and face, The werewolves of the human race. Longfellow.


© Webster 1913.

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