Cycle of the Werewolf

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Cycle of the Werewolf
Written by: Stephen King
Central Theme:
Genre(s): Gothic, Horror
First published: November 1983
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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 and Silver Bullet provide examples of:
  • 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.
    • Averted in the movie. Marty insists that the constable should question Reverend Lowe after learning that they started wearing an eye patch after the 4th of July. After realizing that he doesn't have any other leads, he decides to take Marty's advice. Of course, he's killed for his trouble anyway.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: In the movie, a hunter is attacked and dragged beneath the mist by the werewolf, and he makes a last-ditch effort to drive it off with his baseball bat. We see a human hand rising out the mist and hitting with the bat twice, there is a beat, and then we see the werewolf holding the bat and striking its victim instead.
  • Cool Old Guy: Uncle Red and the gunsmith fit this. Red, despite being an alcoholic, is such a great mechanic that he managed to convert Marty's Wheelchair "The Silver Bullet" into a near Harley-Like Tricycle so that he'd handle his physical disability with style. While he initially doesn't believe Marty over the werewolf, he goes to a gunsmith to make a Silver Bullet to humor him - when the Werewolf strikes, [[Papa Wolf|Red tries his damndest to kill the beast and protect Marty and Jane. The gunsmith himself isn't fooled by Red's BS story about the Lone Ranger, knowing exactly what the bullet was for - but he not only obliges, he goes so far to make sure it worked as it was explained that you'd think he made them before.

Mac:There it is. Nicest piece of work I ever done, I think. It's got a low-grain load... so it won't tumble. Ought to be pretty accurate.
Uncle Red: Why, shoot, it's just a gag. I mean, uh, what the heck you gonna shoot a .44 bullet at anyway... made out of silver?
Mac: How about a werewolf?

  • 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.
  • Fair Play 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: In the novel, the full moon happens to coincide with an unusually high number of holidays.
  • Kid Hero: Marty.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: See Cassandra Truth above. In the book, 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 but for some reason was not included.
  • Silver Bullet: Well, obviously.
  • Tragic Monster: Reverend Lowe is initially an example of this, as he wasn't even aware of the murders he committed as the Werewolf for several months. However, it's downplayed later on as Lowe attempts to kill Marty when he discovers who the werewolf is, and tries to justify himself to Marty using his beliefs when finally confronted - but it's clear as day to Marty (and the audience) that Lowe is trying to convince himself more than he is anyone else.

Reverend Lowe: You should have left me alone Marty. I can't kill myself. Our religion teaches that suicide is the greatest sin a man or a woman can commit. Stella was going to commit suicide and if she had done so, she would be burning in Hell right now. By killing her, I took her physical life, but I saved her life eternal! You see how all things, serve the will and the mind of God! You SEE!! YOU MEDDLING LITTLE SHIT!!! You're gonna have a terrible accident Marty. You're gonna fall in the river.