Written by Patti Pauley
It has occurred to me that the iconic werewolf in horror movies seems to be in rather short supply these past years. The love for zombies. slashers and vampires know no bounds, yet the beautiful werewolf creature seems to hide in the shadows of the industry. I say this because, with the exception to 2 or 3 underground films such as Wolfcop, we haven’t really seen a good werewolf film in what seems to be over a decade. Why is this? Well, it could be for a plethora of reasons:
Budgets for a proper transformation alone could be an issue and studios would rather take a safe route, or it could be a certain sparkly vampire movie- whose name I dare not utter for fear of my flesh burning- that slightly tarnished the image that was once remarkably horrifying. I’m not saying it ruined the image completely because that is ludacris, but I believe it put a dent in the fright factor for the impressionable bunch. Another point to look at; 2010 gave us a dismal reboot of the original universal film The Wolfman. Regardless of Del Toro’s and Perkins‘ strong presence in the movie, the flick fell flat on the magic of the original, or for that matter, many other successful werewolf films before it. Possibly scaring off writers and execs into re-inventing the creature with a fresh take on it for a while. With the absence of such a magnificent monster in a worthy film for so long, I really think it’s time to show the beloved mythological creature some overdue love and do it the right way.
All that being said, I’m here to honor my absolute favorite monster in the horror universe with what I think are the absolute 10 best werewolf movies this side of the moon! I encourage you readers if you haven’t seen one or all, to check them out immediately and witness the tried and true glorious splendor of this gorgeous, murderous animal. Let’s get to it.
10. Ginger Snaps
2000’s Ginger Snaps tells the story of 2 awkwardly morbid sisters (Ginger and Brigitte) dealing with puberty, adolescence and a rash of strange animal murders plaguing the small town they reside in. When Ginger starts her period, the creature- sniffing out Aunt Flo- attacks her and is injured. However, her wounds heal quite quickly and soon thereafter she begins to change. It’s a fun and extremely gory film directed by John Fawcett, and definitely one worth looking at.
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9. Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman
The Universal movies are unforgettable classics, and this gem is no exception. I will never pass up a chance to give these old goodies a mention because without them, who knows where we would be today with the genre?! The tale of the two monsters clashing head on certainly isn’t the best of the series but well worth a watch. Starting as a direct sequel to The Wolfman and picking up where The Ghost Of Frankenstein ended; the sad story of Lawrence Talbot ( Lon Chaney Jr.) in the search of ending his life ends up with an unexpected discovery of the Monster (Bela Lugosi) made by Victor Frankenstein. All bets are off when the moon goes full.
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Wes Craven’s attempt at a werewolf film is nothing short of entertaining- I mean just look at the glorious image above. Starring Christina Ricci and Jesse Eisenberg as siblings who are bestowed the mark the of the beast by an unfortunate accident in the Hollywood Hills, they learn that they must find the beast that attacked them to change their cursed fate. Despite negative reviews from critics, I rather enjoyed this one. The film has a lot of parody in it and if you’re a horror fan with a good sense of humor, you’ll get it.
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7. Trick R Treat
I know what you’re thinking. Trick r Treat isn’t a werewolf movie, right? Wrong. At least one third of it is, and that’s enough for me to include it! The stunning little story that intertwines with the film is a treat to watch. The transformation scenes are beautifully shot and terrifyingly fun to look at. Also, witnessing Laurie pop her werewolf cherry on that scumbag is one of the highlights of that movie for sure.
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Jack Nicholson as a werewolf is just as irresistible as it sounds. A man bitten by a wolf makes the slow transformation throughout the movie, marking his territory along the way, until a thrilling finale involving a whole lot of teeth, claws and wolf wars with a fellow hairy enemy. Those this one is a bit more on the slow side, for those who require immediate action, but it’s a great story with a satisfying ending.
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5. Teen Wolf
If you can’t appreciate the top of the wolfmobile dancing, basketball playing, awkwardly adorable legacy of Scott Wolf, then I certainly don’t want to know you. I’d hate to think someone out there even exists! The basically invisible teen ( Michael J. Fox) get’s the surprise of his life one fateful night, when he learns his family secret. Scott learns to embrace his wolf getup and uses it to his advantage. Ok seriously enough, if you haven’t seen it stop reading this and go watch.
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4. The Howling
The Howling directed by the wonderful Joe Dante and starring the beautiful Dee Wallace, is a stunning example of a horrifying werewolf film. Dee plays Karen White, a news anchor being stalked by a serial killer. After conspiring with the police to set up and capture the deadly stalker, Karen is injured in the process and is set away with her husband to a strange colony of sorts to recover. However, a restful recovery is far from the cards when events take a insane 360 and she discovers they are in the company of werewolves and Karen’s serial killer nightmare.
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3. An American Werewolf In London
The groundbreaking film by John Landis is considered not only one of the best werewolf films of all time, but as one of the greatest in horror period. One of the most basic reasons being the mind blowing transformation sequence which is both gruesome and compelling to watch. The tale of two American friends back packing through London and, resulting in a run in with a ferocious creature of the night, sets up the story that many consider as one of their all time favorites. Landis was 19 years old when he penned American Werewolf and the special effects won a rare acadamy award in the world of horror. The atmosphere of the film is unsettling, and a clever mix of horror and humor.
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2. Silver Bullet
I’m certain I may get some shit for putting this ahead of American Werewolf In London; however that’s the beauty in seeing alternate perspectives on how each horror fan’s taste can differ. I for one am #TeamBusey. The absolute perfect film that was adapted from Stephen King‘s novelette, Cycle Of The Werewolf, is so beautifully done I can barely contain my thrill for this movie. The late Corey Haim, plays Marty: A crippled 11 year old boy who stumbles onto his small town pastor’s deadly secret. This was the first film that absolutely 100% scared the living crap out of when I was a child to the point of recurrent nightmares. Everett McGill’s performance as Reverend Werewolf is criminally underrated and downright chilling. The score that coincides with the movie, is breathtakingly scary and really sets you up for those scares and the anxiety waiting for them. And- can we just take a moment to appreciate Gary Busey? Busey, who plays Marty’s Uncle Red, brings a solid performance and comedy where it’s needed in the film, filling in the piece to the perfect werewolf movie puzzle. I can honestly talk about this film for hours so I’ll make this short- See it. Now. In the case you haven’t. You’re welcome in advance.
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1.The Wolfman (1941)
Obviously the 1941 universal classic tops them all! Lon Chaney Jr. takes on the daunting role of Lawrence Talbot in the massive achievement- The Wolfman. Chaney’s depressing expressions and naturally dark features make him the perfect example of a cursed man living in torment. His story continues in Universal sequels later, and although are fun to watch, they nowhere near measure up to the majesty of this feature. This is one that started it all folks. So let’s tip our hats to Lon Chaney Jr. and his performance for paving the way for the above films.
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Now the question stands: What is YOUR favorite werewolf film? While you’re thinking about that, enjoy one of my favorite music videos, by one of my favorite bands, parodying my favorite mythological creature.
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