7. The Wolfman

Image: The Werewolf (1956, Columbia Pictures)

The legend of the Werewolf pre-dates cinema by a considerable margin, with the earliest instances of lycanthropy appearing in folklore dating back over 2000 years.

While the notion of humans morphing into wolves is a bit of a stretch, there is a real life condition that was often the basis for stories of werewolves: hypertrichosis.

Hypertrichosis is a condition which results in excessive hair growth over the entire body. As stories behind movie monsters go, it’s a little tame, but there is one particular case of hypertrichosis that’s particularly interesting.

It’s not an easy one to substantiate, but there are stories of a man named T’ai Djin Su Kong, a 19th century Chinese man abandoned by his parents at birth and subsequently raised by Shaolin monks. He grew to be head of the Shaolin order after training for practically every waking minute of his whole life, and when his monastery was attacked, it’s said that T’ai Djin took to the high seas to spend the rest of his life hunting the pirates responsible.

Maybe the story of the so-called “Kung-Fu Werewolf” is harder to believe than actual lycanthropy, but there is some historical indication that T’ai Djin was real, and it seems that actual werewolves are sadly not.