Updated: Nov 19, 2019
Top 10 lists seem to be all the rage right now. If you happen to idle away the hours watching YouTube videos as I do, then you’re more than likely familiar with the list format used by such vloggers as WatchMojo or WhatCulture. Now far be it for me to admit to being a bandwagon jumper, but that’s exactly what I’m going to do. So stick with me while I walk you through my favourite..
Top 10 Werewolf movies.
Still with me? Awesome.
The tale of the Lycanthrope or Werewolf to the layperson has been around forever. There are even appearances by Werewolves in Greek mythology. Legend dictates that Lycaon, son of Pelasgus, angered Zeus by daring to serve him a meal containing the remains of a sacrificed child. Zeus understandably took great exception to this and turned Lycaon and his sons into wolves. Given that the first recorded Vampire fable didn’t show up till around 1672, the tale of the Wolfman trumps the Vampire by centuries.
It makes perfect sense that the Werewolf has become so at home on the big screen. The idea of a man, continually at war with the beast within him has taken many forms. From Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde to more modern stories like The Incredible Hulk. Factor in the visual possibilities of turning an ordinary man into a snarling beast, and it’s easy to understand their popularity.
That being said, Werewolf movies are a difficult beast to tame. Do it well and you have a clever, beloved, horror masterpiece on your hands. Do it wrong and you’re stuck with an Underworld or Van Helsing or any other film involving CGI wolf beasts and Kate bloody Beckinsale.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a sucker (pun intended) for a good Vampire movie. In fact, that could well be the subject of my next list, but it’s Werewolves that really do it for me. A normal human being suffering a complete loss of self-control and becoming a murderous animal has fascinated me for as long as I can remember.
So without further ado, here is my countdown of my 10 favourite Werewolf flix.
#10. Wer (2013), Directed By: William Brent Bell, Written By: William Brent Bell & Mathew Peterman, Starring: A.J. Cook, Sebastian Roche & Brian Scott O’Connor.
Found footage is a thing. That’s a fact and no matter how much we bitch about it, it doesn’t seem to want to go away. As a result, the least we can hope for is that we get the odd diamond thrown our way. Wer is one such example of when the format works it really works. Wer is a low cost production, but its beauty lies in the fact that it’s so well made you would hardly know that budget wasn’t on its side.
Wer tells the tale of a family who are brutally slain in France. The cops arrest a local for their murder and you only have to look at the guy to know that he has Wolfman written all over him. The story shifts into Court Room drama mode for a while before switching back to a violent, monster movie. Given its small budget, the Wolf and gore effects are very well handled. The hardest thing to swallow in this film is having to accept a lawyer as our protagonist. Who wants to identify with a lawyer? Seriously?
#9. Late Phases (2014), Directed By: Adrian Garcia Bogliano, Written By: Eric Stolze, Starring: Nick Damici, Ethan Embry & Lance Guest.
Late Phases is an American/Mexican film about a blind war veteran Ambrose McKinley, who lives in a retirement home where the residents have been falling victim to savage animal attacks. One night, Ambrose is attacked but survives the encounter, forcing him to go full-on Rambo and take on the creatures by utilising his military training.
Late Phases is another relatively low budget affair, but once again this doesn’t hinder the film. The creature effects and sound design are incredible, but best of all, the film offers you a hero you can really get behind. Ambrose is wonderfully played by Nick Damici and you root for him the whole way. This would have been one of those ‘easy to miss’ movies but I strongly encourage anyone to hunt it down.
#8. The Company Of Wolves (1984) Directed By: Neil Jordan, Written By: Angela Carter & Neil Jordan, Starring: Sarah Patterson, Angela Lansbury, Brian Glover & David Warner.
The Company Of Wolves is basically Little Red Riding Hood but on a much gorier scale. Directed by Neil Jordan who would later make Interview With The Vampire, the film tells the story of Roseleen, a bored teenager, living with her family in modern-day England. One night while reading a magazine, Roseleen falls asleep and is transported into a dream where she is living in the Middle Ages with her dear old Granny. Granny regales her with tales of Werewolves and makes her promise never to stray from the woodland paths and never eat the windfall apples.
One day on the way back to her Grandmothers, Roseleen meets a man who isn’t all that he seems. In fact, you guessed it. He is a Werewolf.
What I particularly love about this film is the transformation scenes. The Werewolf effects having more in common with Cronenberg’s body horror than the classic man turns into wolf effect.
The Company of Wolves is a great take on a familiar fairy story and well worth a look if you haven’t seen it.
#7. The Wolf Man (1941), Directed By: George Waggner, Written By: Curt Siodmak, Starring Claude Rains, Warren William & Lon Chaney Jr.
I must admit, I’m a sucker for the Universal Monster movies of the 1920s through to the 50s. I loved Lugosi’s Dracula, Karloff’s Frankenstein and Claude Rains Invisible Man. I especially love The Wolf Man.
Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr) returns home to his family estate following the death of his brother. One night while visiting a fortune teller at a Gypsy camp, he is attacked and bitten by a beast. After making a miraculous recovery, the Gypsies inform him that he now carries the mark of the Devil and that each full moon will see him turning into a bloodthirsty monster.
Sure, the effects are hokey by today's standards. What do you expect from a film that’s 78 years old? I would take this version over the awful 2010 remake any day. The performances from Rains and Chaney Jr are spot on and there is something about the tone of the film that I love with every viewing. Don’t fuck with the classics.
#6. Silver Bullet (1985), Directed By: Daniel Attias, Written By: Stephen King, Starring: Corey Haim, Gary Busey, Everett McGill & Terry O’Quinn.
An 80s movie starring Corey Haim, the utterly insane Gary Busey and written by Stephen King. If this sentence alone hasn’t seen you running to find a copy, then you’re dead inside and I have nothing more to say to you.
Haim plays Marty Coslaw. A young paraplegic who lives with his uncle and sister in the small town of Tarkers Mill. The town's folk believe they have a maniac on the loose when residents begin turning up dead. Marty suspects that the killer is something other than a deranged madman and starts hunting down the creature. After narrowly avoiding becoming a wolf snack, with the aid of some well-placed fireworks, Marty must try to convince the town and his uncle that what they are dealing with is in fact a Werewolf.
Silver Bullet is everything you would expect from an 80s Werewolf movie written by Stephen King. Sure it's cheesy. Some of the dialogue is embarrassingly 80s and the wolf effects are seriously dated. That being said, it’s a fun movie and Haim and Busey are worth watching alone. It has that kid on a mission feel that you only got in the 80s. Shows like Stranger Things have tried to recapture that nostalgia for films like this and while they do a great job, it’s worth revisiting the real deal.
#5. Werewolf Of London (1935), Directed By: Stuart Walker, Written By: John Colton & Robert Harris, Starring: Henry Hull, Warner Oland & Valerie Hobson.
While on an expedition to Tibet, Dr Wilfred Glendon (Hull) is attacked by a huge, vicious animal. Once returned to London, Glendon transforms into a savage beast with each nightfall. Hoping to cure this affliction that finds him terrorizing the streets of London, Glendon sets off to locate a rare Tibetan flower. The only thing that can prevent his murderous rampages.
Werewolf Of London is officially the oldest surviving Werewolf movie, predating The Wolf Man by six years. Sure, the makeup is bad. At one point, while in full Wolf makeup, Glendon is seen wearing a smoking jacket which is just hilarious. That said, I love this movie. I admit I haven’t seen it in a few years and really must hunt it down for a repeat viewing. Hull is great as our hair suite hero.If you love old monster movies and haven’t yet seen this, then it’s worth adding to your must-watch movie list.
#4. The Howling (1981), Directed By: Joe Dante, Written By: Gary Brandner, John Sayles & Terence H. Winkless, Starring: Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee & Dennis Dugan.
Another 80s classic starring everyone's favourite Mum, Dee Wallace and directed by the man behind Gremlins, Joe Dante. What’s not to like?
It wouldn’t be a Werewolf top 10 without The Howling. After an encounter with a deranged serial killer, Karen White (Wallace) becomes a basket case and is shipped off to a remote mountain colony hoping some RnR will help put her back on track. The problem is that the other residents are quite frankly, weird as fuck. Karen soon discovers that the killer she encountered earlier in the film is a Werewolf and that she has voluntarily wandered into the pack from which he originated.
The Howling is such a good movie and will spend eternity featured in the top 5 of any Werewolf movie list. It's actually one of the more slow-burning movies on the list and only really gets going in the third act, but this is not a slight on the film. Once things get cracking, The Howling is batshit crazy. It’s a Joe Dante film. I would have been disappointed if it wasn’t.
#3. Dog Soldiers (2002), Directed By: Neil Marshall, Written By: Neil Marshall, Starring, Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd & Liam Cunningham.
Six men. Full moon. No chance. This tagline alone was all I needed to know I would love this movie. That and the fact that early reviews compared it to Evil Dead. Dog Soldiers is quite simply one of the best horror movies of the 21st century.
The plot is so perfectly simple. A platoon of soldiers, on manoeuvres in the highlands of Scotland, are attacked by Werewolves. They eventually take shelter in an old cottage and while running low on ammo, must survive the night. See? Simple.
It’s the dialogue that really seals the deal. Dog Soldiers is endlessly quotable. “Sausages!” The camaraderie between the actors is fried gold and the witty one-liners are constantly interrupted with blistering scenes of brutal violence.
Many people would argue that The Descent Is Marshalls best film. While I adore The Descent, nothing will ever come close to Dog Soldiers for me. How there hasn’t been a sequel is baffling. Mckidd is probably too busy with Grey’s Anatomy for another round with the Wolfmen. I’m not sure if the lack of a sequel is a good or bad thing. I mean The Descent got a sequel and look how that turned out.
#2. Ginger Snaps (2000), Directed By: John Fawcett, Written By: Karen Walton & John Fawcett, Starring: Emily Perkins, Katharine Isabelle, Mimi Rogers & Kris Lemche.
Released two years before Dog Soldiers and only just knocking it off the number two spot comes Ginger Snaps. Ginger Snaps wins the spot purely because it’s such a clever metaphor for the changes that the female body undergoes as it reaches its teenage years. It’s not something I went through personally but trust me. I have a teenage daughter and there are days when I would rather have a werewolf.
Two outcast sisters (Perkins and Isabelle) spend their time acting out their deaths as personal photography projects. One night wi on their way home, Ginger is attacked and badly mauled by a Werewolf. Things change for the worse when Ginger literally starts acting like a bitch. It’s up to her sister Brigitte to figure out how to stop Ginger before all hell breaks loose.
Ginger Snaps is a teen, comedy horror, but not the awful kind that makes me want to urinate into my own eyeballs. The comedy element is not too broad or in your face. The horror is gruesome and at times, pretty nasty but well done. The best thing about Ginger Snaps is that it introduced the world to Katharine Isabelle, who is, without doubt, one of my favourite modern scream queens. I’ve met her and it was love at first sight, Well, for me anyway. She probably thought ‘who is this grinning idiot’.
Check out Ginger Snaps, I implore you. You won’t be disappointed.
#1. An American Werewolf In London (1981). Directed By: John Landis, Written By: John Landis, Starring: David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Griffin Dunne & Brian Glover.
Ok, I know it was a little predictable, but what was I supposed to do? An American Werewolf in London is the greatest Werewolf movie ever made. Actually, it's also one of the greatest comedy/horror films ever made. In fact, it's up there in the ranks of greatest horror movie ever made. I love this film, ok?
Any horror fan worth his salt knows the drill. Two Americans, while hitchhiking through the Yorkshire Moors happen across a local pub called The Slaughtered Lamb. Its locals don’t take kindly to our transatlantic cousins and before booting them out into the cold, offer them a little friendly advice. “Stick to the roads, stay off the moors and beware the moon.” Of course, they don’t heed this advice because if they did, we wouldn’t have a movie. They are inevitably attacked by a huge beast leaving Jack dead and David badly injured.
David wakes up in a hospital in London and is soon befriending and eventually boinking the kindly Nurse Alex (Jenny Agutter). This being a Werewolf movie, David eventually succumbs to the power of the full moon in what I still consider today to be some of the best practical transformation effects ever committed to film, courtesy of Rick Baker.
An American Werewolf In London is what happens when everything comes together to make a perfect soup. The performances are brilliant. The visual effects are superb. The use of music is a moon themed delight. Everything works. John Landis has never made a film to top it.
I can’t honestly, ever see this movie being knocked off the top spot of werewolf movie lists.
Do you agree with my choices? Feel free to add your own in the comments section below and until next time, stick to the road and beware the moon..