The children of the night. What music they make! Y’know, I’ve never found the howling of wolves in any way frightening. To me, it’s calming, relaxing, haunting and beautiful. Granted I might have felt differently about it if I had lived in a place where wolves were common, where I could hear them at night and not just on some Nature special on television, and at a time when wolf attacks on humans were—not common, as wolf predation against humans has never been common—but more common than it is today, that is to say, nonexistent. Back in the Middle Ages and before, people were afraid of wolves with some reason. Wolves might have occasionally taken down a human, and before the cure or even the diagnosis of rabies it’s easy to imagine the terror a mad wolf would engender in a community. Wolves for sure preyed on livestock in ages past, and as livestock was a staple of food for people, this too was cause for fear. So yes, had I been alive back then, I might have cowered when I heard the howling of a wolf. But I didn’t and I don’t. I think most people feel the same way. There’s a reason why werewolves in the movies don’t often sound much like actual wolves. (I think the scariest howl provided for a werewolf was the one in AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON.)
According to scientists, wolves have their own language. Perhaps greater understanding of these graceful animals has, as much as anything, served to replace human fear of them with admiration and affection.
The howl of the beast in AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF only has one meaning, though: “I’m gonna eat your ass!” Kinda hard to miss the intent with that one.