Fans of indie horror are no doubt familiar with the work of Larry Fessenden — not only through his deeply personal horror films like HABIT and THE LAST WINTER, groundbreaking audio drama series TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE and memorable roles in I SELL THE DEAD and WE ARE STILL HERE, but also through his production company Glass Eye Pix, which recently celebrated its 30th Anniversary.
But if you’re really serious about Larry’s creative output, you might have noticed a recurring motif running through much of his work: North America’s indigenous legend of the Wendigo, one of the most powerful mythological creatures ever to terrorize humankind.
Fessenden pays loving tribute to his diabolical muse in the new book Sudden Storm: A Wendigo Reader, in which he has compiled numerous essays, tales, journal entries and other literary works about the Wendigo legend and its influence on history, culture, art, and psychology… all accompanied by incredible illustrations by acclaimed artists like Gary Pullin, Graham Humphreys, Isabel Samaras, Trevor Denham, Betsy Heistand and Fessenden himself.
Having delved into this book from cover-to-cover, I can say that it came as quite a revelation; while I’d seen his feature film WENDIGO and his amazingly creepy “Skin and Bones” episode of FEAR ITSELF (my all-time favorite Wendigo tale), I had no idea how intimately the lore of this horrific monster was woven into Larry’s creative life.
I won’t divulge some of the best surprises in store, but rest assured you’ll be bowled over by some of the research Fessenden and his fellow authors bring to the party… say, for example, did you know that U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt knew at least one tale of the Wendigo? Me neither, but it’s right there on page 41 (in my copy, anyway).
Some of my favorite contributions include Alison Natasi’s intriguing analysis of the link between Ruggero Deodato’s CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST and the Wendigo legend; Carter Meland’s examination of the Wendigo’s influence on Antonia Bird’s horror-western RAVENOUS; and Samuel Zimmerman’s overview of the Wendigo’s treatment on television shows like THE X-FILES, SUPERNATURAL, SLEEPY HOLLOW and — of course — FEAR ITSELF. Also enlightening is Chris Hibbard’s historical account of “Wendigo Psychosis” (a well-documented condition) as it relates to real-life crimes throughout North American history.
It’s still shocking to me that this terrifying, archetypal monster hasn’t become as entrenched in American folklore, media and popular culture as vampires, werewolves and zombies… Larry’s taken some significant steps to changing all that, and hopefully this book may inspire other creative minds to further explore this monstrous myth.
SUDDEN STORM: A WENDIGO READER is available now from Fiddleblack Press, and can be ordered from Amazon.
Get a taste of Fessenden’s passion for the Wendigo mythos in Adam Barnick’s short film, THE SHAPE OF THE WENDIGO: