Werewolves are one of the least appreciated monsters in the horror movie world. The bring angst, fear, pain and body horror to the table. What would you do if you knew that once a month your skin would split open, your bones would crack and expand and elongate, and you’d grow fur and turn into a wolf? Yeah, I know! It’s horrifying!
If anything I think that werewolves are the original big bads of the body horror sub-genre. Myths and legends about wolf-men have been around since, well, the dawn of humankind. With the advent of the printing press, the folklore turned into a more concrete concept, and by the time we invented movies, werewolves had a clear set of rules: they can only be killed with silver objects (or bullets depending on the setting) and their bite and scratch curses (i.e. infects) others and lycanthropy is spread from victim to victim. The only way to stop the curse is to kill the werewolf. Talk about a tragic end. Yikes!
Here’s our Top 10 Werewolf Movies of All Time
10. The Wolfman (2010)
Benicio del Toro and Anthony Hopkins star in this fair remake of Universal’s seminal movie. While it does suffer from actors with a terrible case of mumbly mush mouth (i.e. “What did he just say? Rewind it. Again.”), it has a decent amount of werewolf transformation scenes that are rather impressive. If it didn’t have poorly animated animal CGI sequences, and a very odd twist ending that came out of nowhere, this movie would’ve been higher up on our list. But, alas, it does, and so, at #10 it must stay.
9. Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed (2004)
The dark sequel to the breakout movie “Ginger Snaps”, “Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed” follows Ginger’s sister Brigitte’s struggle to maintain her own humanity after surviving being attack by a werewolf. This one is full of even quirkier characters than the first, as Brigitte teams up with a crazy little blonde girl (called Ghost of all things) who has plans of her own for her.
8. Trick ‘R Treat (2007)
“Trick R’ Treat” is by far the best Halloween themed horror anthology ever made. In one of its sequences, some party boys find themselves in a very hairy situation (heh, hairy) as it turns out that a group of hotties invited them to their party so that they could “have their way with them” and by that I mean eat them. Why do they want to eat them? Because they’re werewolves, duh!
7. The Howling (1981)
This classic ’80s werewolf movie set a pretty high bar for its genre. The story revolves around a news reporter that finds herself going deeper and deeper down the rabbit’s hole as she investigates the strange behavior of the inhabitants of a quaint mountain retreat called The Colony. Yeah, nothing ominous about that, now is there?
6. Dog Soldiers (2002)
This British horror film pits a group of hardened soldiers against a clan of werewolves. What starts out as a field exercise with live ammunition turns into a nightmare as the poor blokes have to fight tooth and nail to survive.
5. Hemlock Grove (2013)
A werewolf and a vampire team up to solve a murder mystery and hunt down the monster that is devouring young women in the strange town of Hemlock Grove. This has well-rounded characters, a strong plot, and a fantastic cast. I can’t recommend it enough.
OK, this one is technically a TV series made by Netflix, but one of the main characters is a bad ass werewolf gypsy, and the practical effects and makeup for his transformations are sooo cool, it has earned a spot on this list.
4. Ginger Snaps (2000)
Ginger and Brigette are morbidly obsessed with blood and gore. These practical jokers run into a surprise of their own when Ginger is savagely attacked by a wolf , and then starts to turn into one herself.
This movie pretty much revived interest in werewolf movies, and aside from having some pretty kickass characters, it brings a new lens to the wolfman genre, by letting us see the body horror through the eyes of women.
3. The Company of Wolves (1984)
This dark fairy tale is a cleverly disguised coming of age story. The wolfman is out to devour Rosaleen, who has quickly lost her innocence and discovered her own sexuality.
By far the most symbolic and artsy-fartsy of the movies on this list, but the transformation sequence was done so well, it easily earns its spot at #3.
2. Late Phases (2014)
The movie’s title has double meaning, referring not only to the late phases of the moon’s cycle, but the late phases of a man’s life. When the blind Vietnam Vet Ambrose McKinley moves into the Crescent Bay retirement community, he is savagely attacked by a werewolf. While this curmudgeon might be blind, he isn’t anywhere near being helpless. He goes about investigating the locals and laying a trap for the werewolf, as he knows that it will come back to finish him off on the next full moon.
This clever original werewolf film is one part action, one part suspense, and one part character study. Definitely worth a watch!
1. An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Wow, this was released in 1981? Man how time flies. “An American Werewolf in London” is by far, the best werewolf movie ever made. No one has ever been able to top the outstanding practical effects of the transformation scene that were made by Rick Baker. Seriously. They haven’t.
Combined with a clever morbid sense of humor, interesting characters and a strong cast, this is as good as a werewolf movie gets. This movie has aged phenomenally well, as have most 1980s horror films that strictly used practical effects. It really was the golden age of horror. *sigh*