It’s funny how few films deal with werewolf stories, despite the fact that they’re an iconic and long-lasting horror and fantasy beast. There are even fewer films that do it properly. In a genre that has seen its share of zombies, vampires, and slashers come and go, paranormal horror has stayed a constant, but the werewolf film has remained a rare exception. The werewolf movie has never been a trend-setter in the horror genre, except for the bountiful year 1981, which saw the release of Wolfen, The Howling, and An American Werewolf in London.
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Carnal animals have traditionally lived in groups. With shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Penny Dreadful, the wolfman has evolved as one of the most memorable characters. There are numerous examples of this, including Trick ‘r Treat,Monster Squad, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Monster Squad. It has been more difficult to find stories that focus solely on the transformation of a human into an animal, though.
When they’re at their best, they’re a joy to behold. When it comes to practical effects, werewolf films have a long and proud history, thanks to Rick Baker’s groundbreaking work on An American Werewolf in London. To examine our relationship with the beast we all know resides within us, they make for compelling tales of self-awakening that are both stark and disturbing. This may be the most notable quality of the werewolf genre: its ability to endure. Werewolves have long been a staple of the horror genre, even if they haven’t sparked as much interest among moviegoers as some of its other contemporaries.
Before we get to the meat of the matter, a few deserving mentions: It’s hard to overstate the quality of these films: Werewolf of London (the original), Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (the solid action sequel), Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning (the underrated prequel), Wolfcop (a hilarious parody of the genre), Bad Moon (a pulpy 90s gem), and The Wolfman (2010) (which was underrated).
Keep a safe distance from full moons and silver coins, and check out our list of the finest werewolf films ever made. Check out our list of the finest vampire movies ever created for more fantastical entertainment.
1. Brotherhood of the Wolf
Look no further than Christophe Gans’Brotherhood of the Wolf for a refreshing take on the werewolf genre. French colonial warfare, nobility, brutal combat choreography, and bloody-brilliant filmmaking are all featured in this film, which also incorporates mythology and skepticism about science and religion. MarkDacasco’s portrayal of an Iroquois martial arts teacher in this film is completely convincing because of all the other crazy going on.
The Brotherhood of the Wolf is set during the French Revolution and is partially based on the tale of the Beast of Gévaudan. Mani, a Native American companion to Grégoire deFronsac, a French naturalist, was sent to deal with a raging beast in the countryside. They investigate the attacks, uncovering an ever-twisting plot and ending up in a fight to the death as they find the truth (with a little romance thrown in for good measure). Brotherhood of the Wolfis an avant-garde werewolf film that should not be missed. Dave Trumbore: – Dave Trumbore
2. Silver Bullet
Do not be offended if I tell you that Silver Bullet is not a good film. It’s simply not the case. Is a beloved family-friendly entry in the genre, but it is also one of the most influential works in the field. They’re all here, and I’m one of them. My first encounter with Stephen King’s work was with Cycle of the Werewolf, and it left me shaken. A lighthearted and freewheeling coming-of-age cult favorite in the Kingian style, Silver Bullet is not quite as terrible.
Prodigious television director Daniel Attias made his directorial debut with his lone feature film, which was rumored to be partially directed by Don Coscarelli, despite the fact that he insists he left the project after executives ignored script notes by Stephen King. Rather than the directing, Silver Bullet’s flaw lies in the storyline, which was derived from Stephen King’s unfinished novella, Cycle of the Werewolf calendar. It’s a fun and entertaining family film, even with its narrative flaws, with a fun and endearing family and an action-packed battle against a deadly beast. Gary Busey’s Uncle Red is one of the best adult characters in recent teenage horror film history, and the character is worth the price of admission on his own. -Haleigh Foutch’s work
Wolf, a 90s-style white collar werewolf film, starring Jack Nicholson as Will Randall, a publisher who has struck rock bottom. After being bitten by a wild animal on the side of the road, he is cursed with the werewolf curse, and his wife has an affair with his protege (though, to be fair, it’s James Spader in the 1990s, so who can blame her?). Laura Alden (Michelle Pfeiffer), spoiled but enchanting daughter of billionaire publishing honcho Raymond Alden (Christopher Plummer), who he begins a passionate romance with in the midst of his lycanthropic change, is the gorgeous and intriguing Laura Alden.
As usually, Nicholson is excellent in this role, but the biggest surprise is that he is so restrained in his performance, reversing his usual tendency to go beyond in his portrayal of the character. Pfeiffer is as electrifying as she can be with a restricted role, while Spader uses his trademark strangeness to great advantage. Wolf doesn’t have any gore or over-the-top effects, but it does take the werewolf mythos and give it an unapologetically mature perspective. It’s a refreshing perspective on traditional werewolf stereotypes thanks to director Mike Nichols, who takes the subject seriously but never so seriously that the film loses its humor. In the end, Wolf isn’t a horror film, but it’s an enjoyable, fanciful, and unique satire on sex and corporate culture with an A-list cast and an Oscar-winning director. -Haleigh Foutch’s work
4. Late Phases
For a werewolf movie, Late Phases may offer the most hilariously mismatched location of all time. An unknown feral beast is blamed for a recent run of violent fatalities in a calm retirement town, according to the local police in Adrián Garca Bogliano’s short tale of lycanthropy. While moving into the neighborhood, Ambrose (Nick Damici) and his son (Ethan Embry) are terrorized by a beast and set out to rid the area of the threat on their own terms after experiencing a night of gory terror at its hands.
Although the full-blown animals themselves appear a touch ridiculous, the film’s commitment to character really gives Late Phases the advantage. After years of working as a screenwriter and actor, Damici has established himself as one of the greatest machismo actors in the business with Late Phases. Rather than a simple spook show, it becomes a character study of a guy who is determined to live his remaining days on his own terms. Haleigh Foutch –
Michael Wadleigh, the director of Woodstock, has only made one narrative picture, Wolfen.
The cast, which includesAlbert Finney, Diane Venora, Gregory Hines, and Edward James Olmos, is intriguing and a little weird. While it’s a horror film, the first to use in-camera thermography to reveal the predator’s point of view, it also deals with Native American land rights and an anti-gentrification position, making this picture a bit more complex than your average horror flick.
I’m curious to know more about the Wolfen. Wolves that can trade their souls with select human tribes. A wealthy guy is ready to bulldoze over an abandoned Bronx housing project in order to build another corporate behemoth. Films like Wolfen illustrate the need of protecting one’s territory, regardless of one’s ethnicity or species. By Brian Formo.
6. Teen Wolf
A adolescent werewolf surfing the hood of a van while playing air guitar to The Beach Boys’ “Surfin’ USA” is the epitome of the 1980s. “Um, heck no,” is the response. Teen Wolf is pure 1980s cheese, and it’s delicious.
It was written and directed by Matthew Weisman and Jeph Loeb and stars Michael J. Fox as Scott, a 17-year-old high school student with dreams of playing on the basketball team who is just fed up with being an Average Joe (being a white dude in the 80s was hard you guys). Werewolves aren’t just mythical creatures to him; they’ve come to life in his dreams, and it’s all down to his father’s curse. New physical skills and the ability to look cool in sunglasses help him become the most popular kid at school, while keeping his buddies, and, of course, his girlfriend. This is a ridiculous film, but the charm of Fox and the willingness to embrace the cheese factor make it enjoyable. Plus, there’s a werewolf basketball player. Adam Chitwood –
7. The Howling
Because An American Werewolf in London was released in the same year as Joe Dante’s The Howling, it has always suffered from retroactive second-child syndrome, which is a shame because The Howling features a fantastic practical effects makeover. While American Werewolf may be more polished and carefully crafted, The Howling is a great masterpiece in its own right, full of Dante’s typical oddball comedy.
With Karen White (Wallace) as its central character, The Howling tells the story of an undercover operation in which she meets with a serial murderer and experiences a life-altering encounter. She goes to a culty treatment retreat in order to deal with her reoccurring nightmares, when wolfy shenanigans ensue. Although The Howling has much to say about the importance of belonging and the desire to unleash the beast within, Dante has a rather simplistic approach to social satire in this early film. Fortunately, the monster action makes The Howling an endlessly enjoyable example of the werewolf genre at its best. — Caitlin McKinney
8. The Company of Wolves
With The Company of Wolves, his second picture, Jordan demonstrated his talent for the strange and wonderful, a talent that he has continued to cultivate ever since. The Company of Wolves is a reimagining of the Little Red Riding Hood fable that investigates the process of storytelling through the parables we create to manage female libido. As a modern teenager, Rosaleen (Sarah Patterson) lives in the 17th-century village where wolves roam the woods, preying on the town’s livestock. Her grandmother, Rosaleen’s (Angela Lansbury), likes to tell scary stories about werewolves and other sexually perilous creatures. Until they’ve had their way with you, “they’re lovely as pie,” she explains, “but after the bloom is gone, the beast comes out.” ”
While The Company of Wolves deconstructs the mythology of female victimhood, it is also a beautiful interpretation of the werewolf tale, with stunning technical execution from set design to costume design to cinematography. And the R-rating is well-earned, with gruesome moments of face-ripping gore punctuating the stories and ruminations. Haleigh Foutch –
9. Curse of the Werewolf
You can expect great drama and a gothic production value from a Hammer film in Curse of the Werewolf, as well as Oliver Reed’s debut on-screen appearance. This is a man cursed by the circumstances of his birth and conception, which Reed portrays as Leon in the film. Leon, the son of a silent servant who was raped by a lunatic inmate, was born with a desire for blood and made holy water boil at his christening. When he’s a grown man, he worries that he can’t control his ferocious inclinations without the comforting presence of his love, Cristina (Catherine Feller). A sophisticated slow-burn horror classic from legendary Hammer director Terrence Fisher, Curse of the Werewolf boasts some of the best old school transformation effects before American Werewolf in London revolutionized the game. It gives lots of agonizing melodramatic and big wolfy conclusion. -Haleigh Foutch’s work
10. Ginger Snaps
Werewolves are used as a magical parallel for female coming of age and a creative story device to explore the intricacies of sisterhood in John Fawcett’s take on the legend of the werewolf.
Ginger Snaps tells the story of two sisters who are deeply connected, death-obsessed, and co-dependent. When the older sibling is bitten by a werewolf, the two begin to fall apart. Ginger Snapsis a well-made horror film that uses the werewolf change as a remarkably apt metaphor for female pubescence. All of the actors are fully devoted to their pulpy roles, and the effects are on spot. The characters are relatable and sympathetic (even those like the cruel girl, the drug vendor, and the lusty teen lad).
For his part as the “cool guy,” actor Kris Lemche goes above and beyond, but the real credit goes to the film’s star-studded cast.
Despite their close friendship, Emily Perkins and Katherine Isabelle are at odds over how to deal with Ginger’s dual change. A tale of feminine awakening, soaked in violence and passionately committed in the pathos of change, Ginger Snaps takes the werewolf genre and reimagines it as a tale of female rebirth. • Haleigh Foutch —
11. The Wolf Man
The Wolf Man, a Universal Monsters film, had a huge impact on modern werewolf design. It was not the studio’s first foray into lycanthropy, but Jack Pierce’s classic make-up work with Lon Chaney Jr. in the title role was first introduced in this film. Hours of work went into the change from man to beast that was shown on television for only a few seconds.
For those who haven’t seen The Wolf Man before, it recounts of Larry Talbot’s return to Wales after the death of his brother, which makes this classic worth your time even for those who have. In addition to a blossoming romance with a local village girl, Larry’s encounter with a werewolf provides the film’s emotional core. Larry is afflicted by the curse, which causes him to unleash his own terror on the town before he ends up in the wrong hands. Despite being more than seventy five years old, it’s still a gripping and devastating horror story. Dave Trumbore: – Dave Trumbore
12. Dog Soldiers
Since his first picture, the action-packed werewolf vs. military splatterfest Dog Soldiers, Neil Marshall has been one of the most exciting genre directors on the market. Soldiers are forced to defend themselves against a horde of fierce werewolves who have broken free from their camp on a mountaintop, and they will use whatever weapons they can muster up in order to do so.
Kevin McKidd, Sean Pertwee and Liam Cunningham lead a stellar cast in Dog Soldiers, which is directed by Marshall with aplomb and boasts the kind of explosive action you’d expect from a blockbuster action film and the quality of practical effects you’d expect from a hard-R horror film. You won’t find a better beautiful creature creation this side of Rick Baker, and Marshall used skilled dancers to give them an unsettling elegance unlike any other cinematic lycanthrope. At times, Dog Soldiers feels like it could be a combination of a horror picture and an action movie at the same time. Taking place in the vein of Aliens and Predator, the picture sets a group of badasses against an even worse force of nature, making it one of the best werewolf films ever created. -Haleigh Foutch’s work
13. An American Werewolf in London
In the 1970s and 1980s, you undoubtedly associate John Landis’s name with such classic comedies as Animal House, The Blues Brothers, and perhaps even Trading Places and Coming to America. John Landis died in 1992. But if you’re a fan of the horror genre, An American Werewolf in London will come to mind. An American Werewolf in Paris, a sequel of sorts, pales in comparison to the original’s moonlit craziness.
David (Naughton) and Jack (Dunne) are two young American guys who are backpacking through England when they are attacked by a werewolf, which kills Jack and leaves David with a curse. It’s a classic werewolf curse mythos, but Landis takes it a step further: Since each victim will be revived until the bloodline is destroyed, you’ll want to check out our top zombie flicks as well. As David’s conscience and sounding board, Jack’s undead form serves as a rarity in the horror film genre. But the Oscar-winning effects work of the famous Rick Baker and his team is what makes this particular film such a terrible (and awesome) werewolf drama. They’re still as gruesome and disgusting today as they were when they first came out. It’s so good that Landis even tried to stop his own son from filming a sequel, which we can all agree would have been a mistake.