Or what I like to call research!
One thing that helps me get started on a project is watching documentaries about the subject at hand, whether it’s Dinosaur Planet (2003) for a recent dinosaur book I worked on or Trouble the Water (2008) for something I wrote about Hurricane Katrina. A little TV watching is usually the first step in immersing myself in a project; what I often do before I hit the research books as a way to warm up the brain. Now, with one of my latest projects, there really weren’t any documentaries to watch, but there are quite a few good classic movies to get things rolling.
The Curse of the Werewolf (1961)—This classic uses some of the original werewolf mythology. Leon Corledo isn’t bitten by a werewolf. Rather, he’s cursed to become one because he was conceived through a rape and was born on Christmas Eve. However, the idea that it takes a silver bullet to kill a werewolf is used, possibly because this movie borrows from the story of The Beast of Gévaudan.
The Werewolf of London (1935)—Up until this point, when a werewolf transformed, it was believed that it changed completely into a wolf. But Wilfred Glendon changes into a half-man, half-wolf beast. A new idea in werewolf mythology. Well, unless you think Mr. Hyde was a kind of werewolf.
The Wolf Man (1941)—The first mainstream werewolf movie, audiences were so thrilled (and frighten) by Lon Chaney Jr. transformation into a werewolf that he reprised his role as the Wolf Man in Frankenstein meets the Wolf Man (1943) and House of Dracula (1945). It should also be noted that this movie is the first to include the three basic traits of a modern werewolf: becomes afflicted after being bitten by a werewolf, turns on the full moon, and is harmed by silver.
An American Werewolf in London (1981)—While in earlier movies, werewolves were seen transforming through stop-motion effects. This classic took things to another level. Through special effects, audiences saw David Kessler’s body changing and twisting and morphing into a werewolf. The movie also gave the impression that turning into a werewolf was a painful process.
Of course, there are many other fun werewolf movies, from The Howling (1981) and Underworld (2003), but the above fit into my research the best as they each portrayed a change in werewolf mythology.