Literature: Cycle of the Werewolf
A short story written by Stephen King
and published in 1983, Cycle of the Werewolf
is about a small town in Maine that is terrorized by a series of killings. According to That Other Wiki
, King originally started the project when he was asked to write twelve short chapters that would accompany a werewolf-themed calendar. Apparently, no one told them that this is the guy who wrote The Stand
— the "uncut" version of which is over 1,100 pages long. Inevitably, the decision was made to scrap the calendar idea, and release the story in Graphic Novel
form with accompanying illustrations (by Bernie Wrightson, of Swamp Thing
fame). The influence of the initial idea can still be seen in the format of the story though, as each chapter focuses on one month in the year of the killings.
The story uses a whodunnit format for the most part, with the reader knowing that a werewolf is responsible for the killings, but not knowing who the werewolf is. It also has plenty of horror scenes, with most chapters describing a werewolf attack rather than developing the non-victim characters. The first survivor, a crippled boy named Marty Coslaw, is not introduced until the seventh of the twelve chapters, and is only featured prominently in chapters ten and twelve after that. As a result, there is no strong protagonist to oppose the werewolf, and some may consider the narrative to be a little weak for this reason.
In 1985, the story got a film adaptation called Silver Bullet
, starring Corey Haim as Marty, and Gary Busey as his alcoholic Uncle Red. In the movie, Marty is featured as a main character from the beginning and his experiences throughout the year receive just as much attention as the werewolf killings. This fixes the problem found in the book, which makes the film one of the better adaptations of one of King's stories, even though most reviews regarded it as good, but not great.
Cycle of the Werewolf provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Marty's mother sometimes takes not being soft with her son a little too far.
- Artistic License – Astronomy: King points out in a short author's notes section that anyone with just a little interest in astronomy can tell that the moon cycles portrayed in the story couldn't happen in reality. He freely admits that he ignored this because he found idea of setting the chapters on various holidays too appealing to pass up on.
- Asshole Victim: Milt Sturmfuller. The narrative lampshades this, saying that "And perhaps God is just after all, because if there is a first-class grade-A shit in Tarker's Mills, it is Milt Sturmfuller."
- Cassandra Truth: Marty tells the police that the killer is a werewolf after he survives an attack. In the book, they declare that he is suffering from post-traumatic stress. Hoping that being away from town will cure his "delusion", he is sent to Vermont to live with other relatives.
- Christmas Cake: Stella
- Domestic Abuser: Milt Sturmfuller to his wife, in just about every way it can be done.
- Eye Scream: When the werewolf attacks Marty on the 4th of July, he defends himself by shooting a firework into the beast's eye. Marty shoots the werewolf's other eye out with a silver bullet in December, killing it.
- Fairplay Whodunnit: Before Reverend Lowe is revealed to be the werewolf, there is a chapter where the character has an intense dream sequence showing several other townsfolk turning into werewolves. Genre Savvy readers/viewers may recognize this as a symptom of lycanthropy.
- Gorn: Several of the illustrations through the book partly fall in this category.
- Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: The full moon happens to coincide with an unusually high number of holidays.
- Kid Hero: Marty.
- Motive Decay: Reverend Lowe initially struggles with the curse, particularly in the book, but in both versions they eventually justify their actions by saying that God gave him the curse for a reason, and most of his victims have been sinners anyway.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: See Cassandra Truth above. The town constable decides Marty has gone a little crazy from the shock of almost being killed, and his failure to follow up on the kid's testimony results in more deaths, including the constable's own death.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: Not really different, however in the book, the werewolf does speak. The werewolf also spoke more in the script to the film adaptation but for some reason was not included.
- The Reveal: Reverend Lowe is the werewolf.
- Silver Bullet: Played straight. It's even the title of the Film of the Book.