5) The Howling – The Howling is an 80’s classic, featuring Dee Snider as a tv reporter who has a close call with a serial killer (who is a werewolf). To deal with the emotional scars, she goes to a nature retreat in a small community. Unbeknownst to our wily reporter, the entire community is a pack of werewolves and Eddie’s, our serial killer’s, hometown. This film does a good job of not revealing the werewolves until the time is right, building the suspense in nighttime scenes where our heroine is being stalked. I enjoy this film for 2 main reason, awesome transformation scene, and the werewolves look fantastic (especially for the time). They made a sequal (several of them in fact) but none of them can even remotely hold a candle to the first.
4) Curse of the Werewolf – This film is from Hammer Horror out of England and kudos to it for going back to the origins of werewolf lore. It wasn’t the bite of the werewolf that carried a virus, but it was generally someone who was cursed, or who would perform dark magic and could take the shape of the wolf and other animals. If you actually look into history, they executed people for being a werewolf (no silver bullets on that one), but I digress back to the movie. It goes with a more classic origin. Our werewolf in this film is the result of a rape and according to myth the bastard son of a rapist would become a werewolf. Accordingly, our werewolf does begin to exhibit the syptoms of lycanthropy as he approaches his late teens (18, I believe) at which point he begins to rampage about under the full moon. This is one of the more sympathetic characters in werewolf cinema because he actually tell his love’s father where to obtain a silver bullet and that he must be killed with it. I also think that the makeup effects on this film are good, but not overly comparable to the awesome effects that they have today.
3) An American Werewolf in London – The greatest transformation scene in all of moviedom. No other film has made the process look so painful or so real, not before and not since. This film is more a dark (very dark) comedy than horror. The acting in it is superb, and John Landis’ direction is impeccable. This film doesn’t give the werewolf some grandiose death sentence it just has to die, any way is fine. But the psychological wear on our werewolf makes him a pitiable character, he is followed by the spirit of his dead friend (the last victim of the werewolf that turned him) and all the souls of the people he killed (displaying their wounds and rotting throughout the film). And I thought this was a great concept, their souls can’t rest until the werewolf’s line is severed and being that there are no other survivors save our American Werewolf and his sire was shot on the moors the night he attacked them. His death will bring peace to their souls. This film is still one of my favorites even though it’s 20-25 years old and I’ve seen it plenty. It never gets old, hopefully you’ll enjoy it as well.
2) Dog Soldiers – Soldiers vs. werewolves. This film is absolutely awesome and the best werewolf film made in the last 20 years. It pits a group of soldiers (who were being used as bait) against a pack of werewolves that reside in a secluded valley in the country side. The Special Forces that were going to trap the werewolves as they hunted our soldiers were decimated. Now, our soldiers with one of the locals have taken refuge in a secluded farmhouse to withstand the onslaught during the night. It’s Aliens and the Alamo, with werewolves. They have made their choice and now they just have to make their stand.
1) The Wolf Man – This classic gave us Lon Chaney, Jr. as Larry Talbot. Who is bitten by a wolf trying to save a girl and later finds that he will turn into a wolf “When the wolfsbane blooms and the moon is bright.” This film was the first great werewolf film that Hollywood created and of course the Wolf Man went on to join the pantheon of Universal Monsters. His portrayal of Larry Talbot as a tortured soul cracking under the knowledge of what he’s done is perfect. So if you haven’t seen this one then go out and give it a shot.
Honorable Mention: Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, I was Teenage Werewolf, Total Eclipse (werewolf cops), Cursed (if it’s the unrated version), and Silver Bullet. What are your favorites werewolf movies.
I hope you enjoyed the list of our shape shifting friends, who walk under the mantle of an animal during the moon’s cycle. Sleep tight and just tell yourself that the dog you hear howling is of the 4 legged variety and not one that might be your neighbor under the rays of the sun.