‘Children of the night. What music they make!’
The sound of the cinematic werewolf
in In the company of wolves
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The aim of this chapter is to consider the role that sound plays in the construction of the Gothic and horror genres, in particular through the soundscape of the werewolf film. Whilst there is a growing body of work on music in relation to horror and the Gothic, sound still remains a too-often overlooked area of film aesthetics. I therefore focus my discussion on the sound effects of animality and wildness within these films, particularly the snarls, growls and howls of the wolf and the sound of bodily transformation, alongside the musical scores that accompany the werewolf. In particular, a close analysis of Universal’s first werewolf film, Werewolf of London (1935), and John Landis’s re-imagining of the werewolf in An American Werewolf in London (1981) will examine how the werewolf draws upon a tension embedded within the sound of the wolf that causes it to embody both horror and melancholy while also blurring the lines between animal and human. This duality, from the werewolf’s earliest appearance through to its modern incarnations, complicates the audience’s relationship to horror and the monster within the genre, thus highlighting kinship rather than difference between classic and modern approaches to cinematic horror.

In the company of wolves

Werewolves, wolves and wild children

Editors: Sam George and Bill Hughes

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