So I’ve officially been terrible at letting my new job keep me away from writing, but here we are in February ready for a new list! I hope you enjoy it!
While a good deal of people seem seduced by the idea of the vampire, I’ve always been more of a werewolf girl myself. Something about the idea of wild power always appealed to me more. Not to mention there is something inherently empowering to me as a woman about ferocious power coming on a monthly cycle! Unfortunately it seems like vampires dominate the film industry these days. But fear not! I’ve put together a list of my top ten favorite werewolf films for my fellow lycanthropy lovers. I hope y’all enjoy it!
- Late Phases
As a disabled person, I have a particular fondness for horror movies with disabled protagonists. Late Phases follows main character Ambrose, a blind Vietnam War vet with a seeing eye dog, as he moves into a retirement community, much to his chagrin. After the police brush off his new neighbor’s brutal murder as an animal attack, Ambrose decides he must take matters into his own hands. As he mounts his defense and begins investigating the locals, the werewolf begins to become more desperate for survival.
While not a critical or commercial success, I really appreciate Late Phases for being a solidly entertaining werewolf film, with a really great main character. It has great violence, a comedic streak, and depth to the major father/son relationship of the film. Definitely a popcorn movie, and not one for a person looking for a whole lot of psychological aspects.
A lot of people hate Cursed. A lot of people have good reason to hate Cursed. The Weinstein produced film was a critical flop that replaced an R-rating for a PG-13 one, and practical effects werewolves for CGI ones. That said, that Wes Craven magic acted by fantastic players like Christina Ricci, Jesse Eisenberg, and Michael Rosenbaum still has a place in my heart for what it is.
Siblings Ellie and Jimmy Myers’ lives change for the worse after a car crash and animal attack leave them feeling very strange indeed. Jimmy begins having the physical strength to stand up to bullies. Ellie finds herself attracted to the scent of blood on her friend. As people around them begin dying, they find themselves desperately searching for a way to end the curse that’s starting to take whole of them.
Wholly corny and campy, Cursed could have been a much better movie than it was. That said, I still genuinely like Cursed for exactly what it is. Well, I’ll still never forgive the studio for the CGI werewolves though. I don’t think anyone will.
- Bloodmoon (A.K.A. Wolf Girl)
Bloodmoon is a Canadian Romanian horror film follows the story of Tara, a teenager with a condition wherein hair covers her body giving her a werewolf like appearance. Desperate to leave the freak show she works at for a normal life, Tara begins taking a radically experimental depilatory treatment given to her secretly by her friend. The treatment works! But as her animal like appearance begins to fall away, her animal instincts begin to grow stronger and hungrier.
A nontraditional werewolf tale, Bloodmoon is surrealistic and delightfully unique in a lot of ways. Taking clear influences from Carrie, Ginger Snaps, and Tod Browning’s Freaks, the film forges a distinct path for itself that strays away from a more traditional werewolf film. With star studded guest appearances from Tim Curry and Grace Jones, Bloodmoon is definitely worth a watch if you can get your hands on it!
Taking a cue from Italian giallo, Wolfen is a horror crime drama starring several well known names such as Albert Finney and Edward James Olmos.
A former NYPD captain and a criminal profiler are called in to investigate after a mogul and his wife are brutally murdered in Battery Park. Initially wanting to rule it a terrorist attack, the captain pushes beyond the preconceptions of the department to investigate the murders for what they are. The case grows more confusing when it’s discovered that the hairs found on the increasing numbers of victims belong to an undiscovered genus of wolf.
Despite delving into poorly fictionalized Native American legend, Wolfen is an intriguing movie with a solid ending that doesn’t cheapen things by trying to be happy an easily tied up. Ebert called the film and “uncommonly intelligent” example of the genre, and while there are certain aspects of the film I would change, Wolfen is still a great film that’s worth a watch.
Starring AJ Cook from Criminal Minds, Wer is an American horror film following a defense attorney who finds out her client is actually a werewolf. Played in faux documentary style, Wer takes the werewolf genre and turns it on its side, demanding that the viewer acknowledges that werewolves are not in control of their actions and can’t legally be held accountable for their actions. The transformation sequence is also uniquely subtle, going for smaller changes rather than the dramatic skin ripping that has become du jour in many werewolf films.
While it drags in some spots due to the law procedural elements of the film, Wer is thoughtful and distinct, bringing lots of philosophical questions to the werewolf genre, while still keeping the violence and horror coming.
From here on out, the listings might be a little controversial! It was very difficult for me to rank all of the following films as anything but number 1!
- The Howling
Based on the novel by the same name, The Howling follows a tv journalist sent to a mountain resort to recover from an incident with a serial killer she was reporting on. Unbeknownst to her and her husband, all of the residents of the mysterious Colony are werewolves, and when the full moon hits, it becomes yet another fight for her life against the oncoming pack of lycanthropes. Not only that, she also discovers the serial killer stalking her has secrets of his own!
One of the more well known entries on this list, The Howling puts a more humorous and sexual twist on the serious novel it was based on. It also used state of the art practical effects that truly made the film stand out to great effect! Overall, the Howling is a classic for a reason, and it’s definitely a horror movie every fan of horror should take a gander at.
- Ginger Snaps
Following the more feminine interpretation of the werewolf myth as a metaphor for menstruation, Ginger Snaps tells the story of two death obsessed teenage outcasts who must deal with the deadly fallout of one of them being bitten by a werewolf. With her sister Ginger going out of her mind, Brigitte will go to any lengths to cure her sister of her curse.
Many of you have likely seen this film, so I won’t go into more detail. This movie is absolutely one of my favorite horror movies of all time. It weaves such an interesting look at female empowerment and debasement. It venerates the feminine as powerful, but also tears it down as deadly. I have a lot of complex feelings about this film, and I will likely go into them in a full review later on if anyone is interested.
- Dog Soldiers
More straightforward action than horror at times, Dog Soldiers is a gritty, high impact werewolf film. A group of special forces soldiers is dropped into the Scottish Highlands to find out what could have possibly killed the previous unit stationed there. After finding a mysterious zoologist stationed in the woods, they soon discover that their attackers are a deadly pack of werewolves. Straining against their own disbelief, their hunting mission soon becomes a fight for survival as they try to outlast their attackers until dawn. But as they begin getting picked off, things become even more confusing.
Dog Soldiers is one of the most solid traditional werewolf horror movies of the last couple of decades. It’s action packed, filled with mystery, and the special effects are A plus. It also has a strong cast lead by Event Horizon’s Sean Pertwee, Grey’s Anatomy’s Kevin McKidd, and Game of Throne’s alum Liam Cunningham. An utterly fantastic series of performances in a solidly put together movie make this one of my top choices for werewolf movies.
- The Wolfman
Does this film even need description? The ultimate classic Universal film tells the story of Larry Talbot’s return to his home in Wales to reconcile with his estranged father following Larry’s brother’s death. After developing affection for a local girl, he goes for a walk in the woods where he rescues her friend from a rabid animal attack. He is then warned by a local Romani woman that he now possesses the curse of the beast. Fighting against it with all his might, Larry is horrified as he begins to succumb to the awful curse.
Starring the preeminent Lon Chaney, Jr. and Claude Rains as Larry and John Talbot, The Wolfman is a classic not merely for its age but for the passion put into its performances. The special effects for the time period are magnificent, and the setwork is truly impeccable. No horror fan should go without seeing the Universal classic.
- An American Werewolf in London
Surprising no one, the ultimate werewolf film on this list is and always will be John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London. When a pair of American tourists face horrors out of the English moors, the surviving man begins going through a series of horrific changes.
This film needs little description, yet it is one of the greatest movies of the horror genre. With a combination of excellent suspense, mystery, and graphic body horror, An American Werewolf set the tone of the genre while consistently staying at the pinnacle of it. The special effects in this movie cannot go without mention. Even in–no, especially today in the era of CGI, the practical effects of An American Werewolf hold up in terrifying quality.