Summary

  • Werewolf movies have a long history in cinema, dating back to the 1930s, and have encompassed various genres such as horror, comedy, and fantasy.
  • The best werewolf movies offer unique twists on the traditional concept, such as a small town reverend turning into a werewolf or teenage girls undergoing lycanthropic transformations.
  • Notable werewolf films include
    Silver Bullet
    ,
    Ginger Snaps
    , and
    An American Werewolf in London
    which have left a lasting impact on the genre with their unique stories and memorable werewolf transformations.

SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY

SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT

While ghosts, demons, and vampires have often taken the forefront of the horror genre, there are a number of all-time classics that center around werewolves. Werewolves have captivated imaginations for millennia, so naturally, they have maintained a foothold in cinema across the globe. Dating all the way back to the 1930s, some of horror and comedy’s most famous features have focused on people transforming from humans into animalistic, uncontrollable creatures by the light of the full moon.

While werewolf movies usually carry the same central elements, there have been many variations on the general concept since werewolves first hit the silver screen in the 1930s. Part of the charm of the subgenre is its diversity – werewolf movies have sampled everything from comedy, action, mystery, and fantasy to true body horror and folk horror. With that in mind, here are the 10 best werewolf movies of all time.

10 Silver Bullet (1985)

Silver Bullet

Silver Bullet is based on the Stephen King novella Cycle of the Werewolf, unique in that its chapters each represent their own short stories related to the same werewolf haunting a small town in Maine. The werewolf is actually the town’s reverend, and as his condition slowly breaks his sanity he becomes antagonistic to a young paraplegic boy in the town, Marty Coslaw, who has figured out his identity. Silver Bullet features Corey Haim as Marty, along with Gary Busey as Marty’s alcoholic uncle and the intimidating Everett McGill as Reverend Lowe. The werewolf design is unique, and while not the greatest Stephen King adaptation it entertains throughout.

9 Wolf (1994)

Jack Nicholson in Wolf

This unique spin on the traditional werewolf tale is powered by great performances from its star-studded central cast, which includes Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer, and James Spader among other notable names. Wolf‘s werewolf transformations are set against a backdrop of corporate politics with some romance elements mixed in and comes with a well-written story buoyed by an entertaining starring performance from Jack Nicholson. The clashing elements of big-name stars in a horror sub-genre film leaves a little to be desired as far as the blood, guts, and wolf makeup are concerned, but this is still a thoroughly entertaining werewolf movie, especially for Jack Nicholson fans.

8 Ginger Snaps (2000)

Ginger Snaps

There is lots to like about Ginger Snaps, the Canadian cult classic that centers around two teenage girls making the lycanthropic transformation as opposed to the typical male leads usually found in the genre. At its core, Ginger Snaps is a heavy-handed metaphor that (somewhat obviously) likens the cyclical transformation of werewolves to a teenage girl’s menstrual cycle using black comedy. Unlike many other werewolf movies, this one does not shy away from gore and body horror; the transformation of its stars from teen into werewolf is delightfully strange and gruesome. Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabelle are outstanding throughout the movie, which helps explain its reputation as a cult classic.

Related: 10 Best Wolfman Movies, Ranked According To IMDb

7 Wolfen (1981)

A man and a wolf in the back of the car in Wolfen

Wolfen stands out in the horror landscape for a number of reasons, including its combination of werewolf horror with crime drama. Starring Albert Finney, Diane Venora and Edward James Olmos, Wolfen leans into its police procedural elements while mixing in just the right amount of creature scares to create an engaging, intelligent horror drama. The movie features a unique in-camera effect to depict the viewpoint of the lupine creatures stalking their victims, not dissimilar to the thermal vision later used in Predator. Wolfen is also renowned for its surprisingly deep discussion and allegories of class conflict in addition to its dark and creepy horror visuals.

6 Werewolves Within (2021)

Sam Richardson and Milana Vayntrub in Werewolves Within

The most recent addition to the werewolf cinematic pantheon is Werewolves Within, and it likely has the strangest origin for a werewolf movie as well. The movie is based on a VR game of the same name that involves players trying to figure out via social deduction which of them is the werewolf in disguise, set against a medieval backdrop. Werewolves Within actually holds the highest-rated critic score on Rotten Tomatoes for any film based on a video game.

In the movie, the game’s medieval setting is swapped for a small town in Vermont, with the cast trapped in a lodge due to a blizzard. The horror-comedy features an outstanding ensemble cast that strikes all the right notes, led by Sam Richardson and Milana Vayntrub. The ever-evolving mystery is engaging and entertaining for moviegoers of any type, but its greatest accomplishment is doing great service to both the comedy and horror sides of the coin.

5 Dog Soldiers (2002)

Guns are pointed at a werewolf in Dog Soldiers

Part werewolf horror and part non-stop action, Dog Soldiers was the directing debut for Neil Marshall (The Descent, Hellboy, and The Reckoning), who won a Primetime Emmy for his work on Game of Thrones. Dog Soldiers features a group of soldiers dropped into the Scottish Highlands who find themselves trapped in a house under siege from a family of vicious werewolves. As their numbers dwindle and the werewolves get inside the walls, the action continues to ramp up and culminates with an explosive ending. Starring Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd, and Liam Cunningham, Dog Soldiers has developed a cult following over time for good reason.

Related: 10 Best Werewolf Movies, Ranked By Rotten Tomatoes Score

4 The Howling (1981)

Dee Wallace in The Howling

One of three werewolf movies released in 1981, The Howling was a true game-changer for the horror sub-genre thanks to its incredible transformation scenes from Rob Bottin, the prosthetics master behind the most memorable scenes in 1982’s The Thing. Starring horror icon Dee Wallace as a news anchor stalked by a serial killer who is sent with her husband to a countryside resort for treatment after her traumatic ordeal. The resort actually hides a community of werewolves, and horror-comedy werewolf action ensues. Both scary and somewhat campy, The Howling is a landmark werewolf film thanks to its effects work and its role in establishing many popular werewolf tropes.

RELATED: Why The 1980s Had So Many Werewolf Horror Movies

3 The Company Of Wolves (1984)

A wolves muzzle bursts from a person's mouth in The Company of Wolves

The Company of Wolves is an underappreciated British fantasy horror classic that puts a dark, gruesome spin on the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale. From the Academy Award-winning director of Interview with a Vampire, Neil Jordan, The Company of Wolves is completely unique among werewolf films in that it embraces an almost dream-like, surreal state throughout. As Angela Lansbury’s Granny recounts a number of wolfish stories to Rosaleen, the Little Red Riding Hood stand-in, the audience is swept into and out of various nightmarish scenes involving some of the most gruesome werewolf transformations in horror. The imagery throughout is truly haunting, making this an all-time classic werewolf film.

2 The Wolf Man (1941)

Lon Chaney Jr. in The Wolf Man

While it wasn’t the first werewolf movie, The Wolf Man is the one that put werewolves on the map. One of the original members of the Universal Classic Monsters lineup, The Wolf Man is still considered to be one of the greatest horror movies ever made thanks to its groundbreaking scares, top-flight makeup work, and inspired performances from its horror icon-studded cast. Lon Chaney, Jr. owns the screen as Larry Talbot both in and out of the werewolf makeup, and the movie is enhanced by other members of Universal’s stable of monsters, Bela Lugosi (Dracula) and Claude Rains (The Invisible Man).

Much of the most well-known American werewolf folklore stems from The Wolf Man, as stated in the poem that is often repeated in werewolf movies: “Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, can become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms and the Autumn moon is bright.” The Wolf Man‘s distinct imagery of the Wolf Man wandering through a forest completely blanketed in a thick mist is something that has often been replicated in the horror subgenre. Its influence on werewolf movies throughout the last century is unmatched – it is the original classic.

Related: Dark Universe & Universal Monster Movies That Deserve Reboots

1 An American Werewolf in London (1981)

A close-up of a man transforming in American Werewolf in London

The third and most famous of the three werewolf movies released in 1981, An American Werewolf in London is one of the rare true horror movies to win an Academy Award, as the werewolf transformations from Rick Baker earned the movie an Oscar for Best Makeup. The movie centers around an American backpacker who loses his best friend in an attack from an unknown creature, but in surviving the attack he himself becomes a werewolf. He is visited by visions of his dead friend and grapples with suicide to prevent death and destruction at the hands of his vicious and beastly wolf form.

An American Werewolf in London may have some comedy elements in it – as most werewolf movies do – but there is no shortage of visceral scares and gory werewolf action. The film pushed many limits at the time as far as the explicit nature of its content was concerned, along with the groundbreaking special effects. An American Werewolf in London is not only considered the greatest werewolf film of all time by many but as one of the greatest overall horror films.

Source: Rotten Tomatoes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *