Top 15 Best Werewolf Movies
Horror Movies are a genre that the world seems to be relatively divided on. On one side, you have those that steer clear of those gory, disgusting films like a dose of the plague; claiming outright fright and a simple inability to handle the scenes and sounds. On the other hand are those so deeply invested in the subject as to wait with baited breath for the next fright fest to hit the screens or DVD rack; loving so dearly the bloody visuals and the gut-wrenching soundtrack. Horror has been around a long time, and many stand-outs of the genre have come to really define what it is to be a horror movie: Dracula, Frankenstein, Nightmare Creatures, Slashers, and Aliens. But to me, one of the most horrific creatures to inundate the movie market is the Werewolf. Perhaps it’s the simple fact that you can almost imagine someone, somewhere, afflicted with lycanthropy. Maybe it’s easier to understand the more animal-like behavior combined with such a staunch human element. Whatever the case, werewolves have continued to hold stock in the horror world and will likely continue to do so for future generations. Here are fifteen of the finest films featuring our feral friends.
15. Teen Wolf (1985)
In “Teen Wolf”, Michael J Fox plays a typically morose high school kid who isn’t popular and plays on a terrible basketball team and finds himself going through some rather unusual changes. As it turns out, he has inherited the werewolf genes from his father and is becoming, surprise surprise, a TEEN WOLF! He can’t, despite his best efforts, hide this from his high school friends, and ends up changing in the middle of a basketball game. However, in wolf form he is a star at basketball, as well as at pretty much everything else he tries. Suddenly he is popular and well-known, but does it all come at a price? Oh yeah, he also surfs on a van. Outstanding.
14. Blood and Chocolate (2007)
The movie starts off pretty well, showing young Vivian quickly and barely getting free as her parents are torn apart by a crazed mob. As soon as it jumps to the present, though, things start to go a bit wrong. Agnes Bruckner is a bit over the top, and there’s nobody to offset that issue with a little fun. Most obviously the screenwriter. The problem is, frankly, that the movie isn’t that original, clever, or even romantic enough to have (and it does) such a complete absence of levity. However, it’s still a strong entry into the genre as a whole and a decent watch for those of us a little taken aback by horror.
13. El Aullido del Diablo (1987)
Do you know Jacinto Molina? How about Paul Naschy? Same guy. His horror movies are relatively cookie-cutter of himself; that is to say they all more or less follow the same pattern. This movie opens with a pretty cute girl sitting alone in a car, singing to herself. Then for no discernible reason, she is grabbed from behind and her throat is slashed with a knife, all of this before the opening credits, Hi Paul Naschy, how are ya? This was obviously a very personal project for Molina, since he writes, directs and stars in it, playing an actor no less. The Shakespearean actor in question likes to pick up hookers and have his nasty, filthy way with them, while acting out some of his favorite historical roles. Could this be a bit autobiographical, maybe? Probably not, since the girls also end up brutally murdered.
12. Wolf (1994)
Jack Nicholson is such a well-respected actor that it came as no surprise that he’d eventually end up beneath some pretty cool wolf make up. After the Joker in Batman, this bit of caked-on appliance wasn’t too much of a stretch. Nicholson’s character is an editor who is being replaced by a younger, more sinister man at his company. At first he’s ready to simply accept it and move on with dignity, but since he was been bitten by a wolf the night before, he begins to undergo some painful and unusual changes and suddenly finds himself having the energy to fight for his position at the company and for the love of his boss’ daughter. However, he also finds that he has the urge to hunt and kill at nighttime, and becomes terrified of the monster he carries inside. Poor Jack.
11. I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957)
Tony Rivers (the Little House on the Prairie alum, Michael Landon) is a teenager who has a real anger management issue. He’s always ready for a fight and flies off the handle at even the slightest upsetting moment. A sequence of campy and unfortunate events lead him to seek help with a psychotherapist, who turns out to be a, ready for it… mad scientist! He is obsessed with the possibilities of reverting man to his animal state and, after a few sessions which seem to be helping, brutal animal-like killings begin to occur in the town and Tony fears that he has become … a werewolf, too! Egads!
10. The Company of Wolves (1984)
The setup is painfully simple: A teenage girl in a country house falls asleep while reading a magazine (with a cover story entitled “the shattered dream” — a bit of a hint to some of the themes of this movie, I’d suspect). She has a wretched dream involving wolves which appear to take place in the very woods that are visible from her bedroom window! It begins with a girl being chased down by a pack of wolves and killed, then we move to her funeral and discover she had a sister. The sister is your typical innocent girl just blossoming into womanhood, and her wise old grandma tells her stories about men changing into wolves, with the message that all men are beasts. Gore ensues, and a little bit of Fairy Tale lore as well. Good stuff.
Lon Chaney Jr. and Claude Raines are absolutely astounding in this, one of the very first tales of the lycanthropes. Upon the death of his older brother, Larry Talbot returns to his father’s estate in Wales. He falls in love with a girl in the village named Gwen, and he goes with her and her friend Jenny Williams to get their fortunes told at a nearby gypsy camp. After talking to the mysterious gypsy, Bela, Jenny is attacked by a wolf. Larry tries to save her. He kills the wolf but is bitten in the fight. Jenny, however, is killed. Afterwards an old gypsy woman tells him that Bela, a werewolf bit him, and now he too will become a one! At first he thinks this is all nonsense, but as more murders are committed, he comes to believe that she may be right about him.
8. Bad Moon (1996)
IMDB says this werewolf story told from the point of view of the family dog is rotten. I disagree. This is quite a refreshing view of the genre. The story opens on a camp in a quiet picturesque amazon rainforest is attacked by a werewolf, which promptly gets its head blasted off. The mixture of gratuitous nudity and random violence lands us firmly in oft-explored horror movie territory. From here we travel back to the US and are introduced to a normal, average family; a powerful lawyer-mom played by Mariel Hemmingway, her young son and their faithful German Shepherd, Thor. They head up to a mountainous lake area to visit their favorite uncle, and no sooner is the mother commenting on how ‘safe’ and ‘peaceful’ this place is than people start being gruesomely murdered in animal-like attacks.
In this Japanese movie, Kibakichi is one of the last surviving Yokai, a race of shapeshifters, and his particular form is that of a werewolf. He travels the world doing battle with various forces of evil.
6. Underworld (2003)
The Lycans Versus the Vampires is an age-old and epic battle. Kat Beckinsale plays just about the most attractive leather-clad vampire you’re likely to ever see, and she plays it well. In an ancient gothic war, Selene is a “deathdealer” — a vampire who has pledged to rid the world of Lycans. One night she uncovers a conspiracy regarding the leader of her coven, a supposedly dead Lycan, and human named Michael. And in the world of Vampires and Lycans, things will never be the same again. Did I mention she was drop-dead gorgeous? Good.
A city cop is assigned to solve a bizarre set of violent murders where it appears that the victims were killed by animals. In his pursuit he learns of an Indian legend about wolf spirits. Though not entirely what you might be expecting, Albert Finney, Edward James Olmos, and Gregory Hines do a pretty decent job of adding to the genre.
4. Ginger Snaps (2000)
This movie is by no means ‘cutesy’ or a chick-flick despite what the title might have you believe. It is a pure and true horror movie and it is relatively gory from the get go when the family discovers the dog has been literally shredded and left in bits and chunks all over the place. In a way it’s not really that gratuitous. The whole movie is a metaphor for adolescence, which in itself is a pretty scary thing to have to go through, I suppose. There are these two morbid sisters, Ginger and Brigette, who are afraid of growing up so much that they actually have a suicide pact together. They are obsessed with death, and for art class they take photos of each other in disturbingly realistic fake death poses. Ginger begins going through puberty, has her first period, and whoosh! Cue the werewolf attack. Very well done.
Between this, the Joe Dante entry, and the next on the list, the two most well known werewolf movies ever are so very close on any list, and deserve very much to be. The effects in both are outstanding, both showcasing some of the most fantastic transformation sequences without the typical over-use of CGI. Karen White, a respected news reporter, decides to go undercover on a mission to capture a dangerous psychopath. However, it goes wrong and it very nearly costs her life before the police burst in and shoot the killer. Karen is left scarred by the experience, so she visits a respected psychologist who recommends that she spend some time at a peculiar retreat called “the colony” … but while there her dreams get worse, and at night she hears a disturbing howling in the woods around her. The film is still relatively scary even for today’s much more stringent standards.
2. An American Werewolf in London (1981)
John Landis took well-known Dr. Pepper ad alum David Naughton and made him a monster. Literally. In fact, using his considerable talents from such horror exploits as the Thriller video, he honestly created the most recognizable and well known werewolf transformation scene ever; even going so far as to be copied in today’s cinema by more CGI effects. Watching the agony as David goes through the horrid pains while literally watching the clock, and then becoming, ever so slowly, the beast to the sounds of CCR’s ‘Bad Moon Rising’ is just shy of amazing. David Kessler and Jack Goodman are two Americans who are making a three-month tour of Europe. While camping through the Yorkshire moors, they are attacked by some kind of large wolf. Jack is torn apart and the beast begins to attack David when the locals intervene and kill the monster. But while he is recovering in a London hospital, David has haunting dreams and visions of his dead friend, who insists that at the next full moon he will become a werewolf. Watching Jack literally fall further apart each time David sees him is also pretty funny.
1. Dog Soldiers (2002)
It had been a good while since I was honestly scared by a werewolf movie. Now, there aren’t wolves throughout the entire film, but when you finally see them leap from the quite picturesque backdrop into the fray, the enormous beasts absolutely take your breath away. Towering heads above their human tormentors, the ‘Wolf-Dogs’ are so intense and scathingly gruesome to look at that you can almost see them existing in a museum of the macabre somewhere. They are ruthless, cunning, killing machines and, without once realizing that they are indeed masks, all at once scary as hell. Directed masterfully by Neill Marshall, the view of the soldiers in training easily draw you into the story of just a simple mission gone horribly awry when the group begins to notice something not quit right in the Scottish woods. The concept for this movie is perfectly described in six words, which are lovingly splattered all over the posters — “Six Soldiers. Full Moon. No chance.”
Notable Omissions: Monster Squad (‘Wolfman’s got NARDS!’), Van Helsing, Silver Bullet