A Top 1o post is always going to come under scrutiny. What may be Top 10 to you may be Bottom 10 to someone else and vice versa. That’s why I put the word “My” out there in front of the title. This is my Top 10 favorite werewolf films of all time. I’m sure some of you have favorites on this list, also. My number 10 might be your number 2 and so on. Anyway, I’m babbling incoherently so let’s get on with it.
10. Curse of the Werewolf (Terence Fisher,1961)
A woman is raped by a nasty, smelly, hairy beggar and nine months later her kid pops out with a tendency to chase cars, hump legs, eat sheep and rip people apart. Later on he grows up to be Oliver Reed and adds scenery chewing to his resume. Based on the book The Werewolf of Paris by Guy Endore, it’s a shame that this was Hammer films only dip into the lycanthropic pool. It’s actually held up quite well in the 52 years since its release. I think it’s overdue for a Special Edition Blu-ray.
9. Bad Moon (Eric Red, 1996)
Uncle Ted (Michael Paré, Eddie and the Cruisers) gets bitten by a werewolf in the first two minutes of the movie and later comes home to live with his sister (Mariel Hemingway, Star 80) and her kid (Mason Gamble, Dennis the Menace, Gattaca). Based on the novel Thor by Wayne Smith; the twist is that the family dog knows exactly what Uncle Ted is and will do anything to protect its family. The transformation scene could have been better; but it’s still a pretty good show and worth a look.
8. Wolf (Mike Nichols, 1994)
Jack Nicholson (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Departed) portrays publisher Will Randall. Bitten by a wolf, Will uses his new-found lycanthropy as a worthy weapon in the fight to keep his job as a publisher out of the hands of the smarmy Stewart Swinton (James Spader, The Blacklist, Lincoln). Add the gorgeous Michelle Pfeiffer as a love interest and you have the ingredients for a woefully underrated film. The whole damn thing is a metaphor for office politics.
7. The Wolf Man (George Waggner, 1941)
It may not have been the first (six werewolf films including Werewolf of London preceded it), and it may have been remade with Benicio Del Toro in 2010, but those are trivial matters. None of these films has the tragedy and pathos that defined the character of Lawrence Talbot as portrayed by the underrated Lon Chaney, Jr. The Wolf Man is the grand-daddy of werewolf movies.
Silver Bullet (Daniel Attias, 1985)
Based on Stephen King’s novella Cycle of the Werewolf, the film adaptation took liberties with the story to fit its cinematic needs. King’s story followed the beast as it howled and bloodied its way through a calendar year. Silver Bullet featured the late Corey Haim as a cute kid in a wheelchair trying to stay one step ahead of the big bad werewolf. Don’t let any of that fool you; Silver Bullet is actually a pretty darn good werewolf movie and yes, it does indeed have Gary Busey in it.
5. Brotherhood of the Wolf (Les Pacte des Loups) (Christophe Gans, 2001)
Based on the tale of the werewolf-like Beast of Gévaudan, Brotherhood of the Wolf is the story of the Chevalier de Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan, Frontier(s)) and the Native American Mani (Mark Dacascos) as they are called to Gevaudan to investigate a string of mysterious and brutal killings. Is it a werewolf? It could be. Brotherhood of the Wolf is one part action, one part horror, one part period drama and every bit spectacular. Did I mention it has a Kung Fu fightin’ Native American?
4. An American Werewolf in London (John Landis. 1981)
I may catch a little flak for placing this one at number 4; but I tend to believe that there has been better werewolf movies since An American Werewolf in London premiered in 1981. All that aside, what we have here is one of the coolest lycanthropic movies ever made and it’s got the guy from those Dr. Pepper ads (“I’m a Pepper, he’s a Pepper, she’s a Pepper, we’re a Pepper, wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper, too?”) a slowly decomposing animated corpse (Griffin Dunne, After Hours), a killer soundtrack with songs by Creedence Clearwater Revival and Van Morrison and the word ‘moon’ in nearly every title, the second-best werewolf transformation (I’m getting to the best) ever committed to celluloid to prove it.
3. Ginger Snaps (John Fawcett, 2000)
Whoever thought that using lycanthropy as a metaphor for menopause deserves a Lifetime Achievement Award or something to that effect. Katharine Isabelle (American Mary) and Emily Perkins (Supernatural) are Ginger and Brigitte; two outcast and bizarre sisters (they stage and photograph fake suicides for a school project). When Ginger is bitten by a werewolf she begins a transformation that includes a lot more than fur, fangs and howling at the moon. Does anyone else besides me think that Katharine Isabelle is the sexiest woman with a tail that they have ever seen?
2. Dog Soldiers (Neil Marshall, 2002)
Think Aliens with werewolves. A group of soldiers on a routine military exercise in the Scottish wilderness get way more than they bargained for when they encounter a pack of bloodthirsty werewolves. Seeking refuge in a farmhouse, the soldiers put up a fight that leaves the beasts wondering what they got themselves into. This was director Neil Marshall’s (The Descent) first film and he rips into it with a glee that is evident in every frame. Must see lycanthropy, yo!
1. The Howling (Joe Dante, 1981
Did those of you who know anything about me expect any other werewolf movie to be at the top of this list? I saw The Howling on the first day of its release on April 10, 1981 and in the 32 years since then I have watched it more than a hundred times on VHS, DVD and finally a beautiful Blu-ray copy that shows details that I never knew existed. One of my proudest moments as a blogger was the opportunity to interview the film’s star, Dee Wallace. The plot is deceptively simple; news anchor Karen White (Wallace, The Lords of Salem) is attacked by a serial killer and is sent to a woodland community known as The Colony to unwind and get her life back together. Instead she finds herself up to her ass in werewolves. This is the movie with the single greatest werewolf transformation of all time, courtesy of Rob Bottin. With characters named after famous horror directors of the past and a cast that includes Belinda Balaski, the late Christopher Stone, Dennis Dugan, Patrick Macnee, Robert Picardo and the late Elisabeth Brooks. Ignore all the horrid sequels that followed; among werewolf films The Howling reigns superior!
ONE PIECE OF TRIVIA FROM EACH FILM
10. The Curse of the Werewolf-In an interview, Richard Wordsworth stated that in the original screenplay his beggar character was a werewolf. Hammer told him that the censor had problems with the notion of a werewolf/rapist, so out it went.
9. Bad Moon-In the scene in which Janet makes breakfast, her son Brett is watching Werewolf of London (1935) on the television, and he and his Uncle Ted argue about werewolf lore. Actually, the lore that Brett argues that “everyone knows about”, such as details about silver bullets and wolfsbane, comes from The Wolf Man (1941), which Curt Siodmak totally made up.
8. Wolf-Director Mike Nichols had originally wanted lead actress Michelle Pfeiffer to wear a red-hooded sweatshirt for the film’s final act. She refused as she thought it would harm the film’s credibility.
7. The Wolf Man-According to the documentary on the Recent Wolf Man DVD collection, the script for The Wolf Man was influenced by writer Curt Siodmak’s experiences in Nazi Germany. Siodmak had been living a normal life in Germany only to have it thrown into chaos and himself on the run when the Nazis took control, just as Larry Talbot finds his normal life thrown into chaos and himself on the run once he is turned into a werewolf. Also, the wolf man himself can be seen as a metaphor for the Nazis: an otherwise good man who is transformed into a vicious killing animal who knows who his next victim will be when he sees the symbol of a pentagram (i.e., a star) on them.
6. Silver Bullet-According to director Daniel Attias, Gary Busey ad-libbed a great deal, for instance when Uncle Red is in the gun shop. Attias checked with Stephen King, who said OK for these ad libs to be included.
5. Brotherhood of the Wolf-There actually was a Beast of Gévaudan (La Bête du Gévaudan) which was a real wolf-like creature that prowled the Auvergne and South Dordogne regions of France during the years 1764 to 1767, killing about 100 people, often in bizarre circumstances.
4. An American Werewolf in London-The final look of the werewolf beast was based on make-up creator Rick Baker’s dog Bosko.
3. Ginger Snaps-The opening shots of the girls’ fake suicides had to be shot on location at an actual home. Someone would have to distract the homeowner’s four-year-old child whenever the actresses, who would be covered by fake gore, would have to come inside to change.
2. Dog Soldiers-When the squad first lands from the helicopter, Sgt. Wells tells Cooper “Get a position and bearing. I want to be on the move in three minutes.” He gives the command for the squad to move out exactly 3 minutes later.
1. The Howling-There were times during the making of The Howling (1981) when Robert Picardo was very despondent about the hours he had to spend in makeup. On the Special Edition DVD he remarked: “One day, after spending six and a half hours in the makeup chair I was thinking, trained at Yale, two leading roles on Broadway. My first acting role in California, my face gets melted in a low-budget horror movie. All the crew had to say to that was, “Bob, next time read the script all the way through first!”
- The Difference Between A WEREWOLF And A LYCANTHROPE (or LYCAN) (hungryasawolfblog.wordpress.com)
- Werewolf (celisbryan.wordpress.com)
- The history of Werewolves (wwwelitepyrosniper.wordpress.com)
- “The Howling” vs. “An American Werewolf in London” (domcappelloblog.wordpress.com)
- Quote Picture (shiverthewolvesofmercyfalls.wordpress.com)
- WereWolves. (mexicanwhite8oy.wordpress.com)
- Howling at the Moon: 3 Best Werewolf films ever (videodead.com)
- On Gingersnaps (2000) (horror2013.wordpress.com)
- Your Weekend Creature Comforts: The Halloween Classics Part 1: Werewolves (evilgeeks.com)
- Famous Werewolf Movies (famous101.com)