I recently read a summary of new Netflix programmes coming online. A veritable diet of fast food for the mind, interspersed with the occasional - very occasional - serving of Michelin-starred fine dining. Which of them, of course, is to my taste will be something to discover.
As I traversed the commentary on each suggesting sampling, one phrase leapt out at me.
“....and who doesn’t love a story about werewolves?”
Well, me. That’s who. Okay, not quite true. That wonderful example of Landisian comic-horror, An American Werewolf in London, stands out as a truly crafted inclusion in his Oeuvre. What does make my heart and mind sink is the glut of such modern takes on werewolves, vampires, demons, etc. What Buffy did with style and originality - and a fine balance between some serious explorations into growing up and comic schtick - has now become the script factory. “Who doesn’t love a story about werewolves? Well give ‘em another one!”
The problem isn’t the mythos. A truly original take on stories that explore fear, courage, the dark unknown and so forth can be both entertaining and thought-provoking, not least about the inner landscape of one’s own soul. That includes an original entry into the life of your everyday werewolf. The problem is the continual wash cycle that eventually removes the vibrancy and colour from the originality of the idea. Not all such incarnations are actually bad - some even may verge on the good, though most, at best, would be classed as passable, visual muzak for consumerist video.
But, oh, for an original concept, or at least an original take on a mythic concept.
There are examples. The also it’s-wherever-you-turn zombie genre had its original take in The Walking Dead, at least within its first seasons. Another in my opinion would be the dark comedy of St. Clarita Diet, where the performances of the ensemble cast are second to none and the undead are given a fresh lease of life, so to speak.
Originality must arise from the pen and keyboard of the hard-working and resilient writer but I am afraid the impetus can only come from a viewing public that will eventually throw its junk-food TV in the bin and reach instead for tales with quality ingredients and cooked together with love and energy.
Leave the decaying corpse of unoriginality to feed the zombies. Stay alive and run free in the fields of creativity you beautiful minds!