We’re fast approaching our first full moon of 2020. With that in mind, these are some of my favorite werewolf movies since I’ve been alive. Sorry 1930s Wolfman!
1981 was THE year for werewolves. We got 3 classics that hit in a single year. You can read about them below. Unfortunately, The Howling sequels have all been gawdawful. I hope someone who loves the original gets around to a reimagining soon. Please save The Howling wolves…pretty please?
No? Ok, I’ll just get on with the list …
The Howling (1981)
A broadcast news anchor has a terrifying run in with her stalker in a porn theater. She sees something terrible and it causes amnesia. Her doctor sends her to a mountain retreat for therapy. Little does she know, the retreat is a pack of werewolves.
An American Werewolf of London deservedly gets its props as the top werewolf movie of the 80s, but The Howling wins for its monstrous lupines. Check out the transformation that set the standard for these cinematic monsters today.
In New York City, something is killing real estate developers in grisly ways. It turns out, ancient spirits have come to protect their turf from development. So, it’s not really a werewolf but a pack of wolf spirits.
Wolfen is a solid horror-crime flick. You never saw the Wolfen until the climax at the end. I think it was the most suspenseful of the wolf movies from 1981.
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
So, 2 backpackers go hiking through the woods and get attacked by a werewolf. One doesn’t make it. The other becomes a werewolf. And the one that didn’t make it haunts him. An American Werewolf in London was THE horror comedy to hit in the 80s. It had a top notch production crew with John Landis as the director.
Anyway, London looked amazing as the backdrop for most of the film. Especially the werewolf transformation in the porno theater. Hmmm…there’s a lot of porno theaters in these 80s werewolf flicks, eh?
An American Werewolf in London picked up the first Oscar for special effects. I still give the nod to The Howling for scariest transformations. Both are classics.
The 90s didn’t do much for werewolves. I can only think of a handful that kept my interest. I’m going to forget An American Werewolf in Paris happened. Probably the best one was a romantic-horror-comedy. That would be …
Wolf follows Jack Nicholson’s character as he comes to terms with becoming a werewolf. It stars some A-List actors like Michelle Pfeiffer and James Spader.
This seems more like a modern take on Wolfman from the 1930s. I didn’t find it particularly scary, and it didn’t break any new ground for lupine monsters. It was just a well-made film to watch to get your werewolf fix. The fight between Jack Nicholson and James Spader had its moments.
The 200os brought a series of new werewolf flicks. I’ll focus on the horror and action movies from this period. That just means Twilight gets thrown out. I won’t let that crud mess up my favorite monsters.
Dog Soldiers (2002)
Dog Soldiers brought a renaissance to werewolf flicks in 2002. It was more action movie than horror movie. And it’s violent AF. You get betrayal and bodies throughout. It doesn’t rest for a second: One action sequence follow the next. You won’t get bored. Plus, the dog lives. Can’t beat that, eh?
Ginger Snaps (2000)
So Brigitte’s got a problem: Her sister, Ginger, got bitten by a werewolf. And you know what happens next. In the first film, it’s Ginger loving her predatory nature, but she’s killed a few too many people. As you can imagine, her sister has to stop her. And Brigitte gets infected. Now we have 2 werewolf sisters on the prowl!
Ginger Snaps is a fun series. Heck, I even like the 1800s frontier reimagining in the third one.
You either love the Underworld films or you hate ’em. For the record, I love them. Well, I like the first 3. The third film is focused on Lycans, so I gave it some slack.
Anyway, these movies are all action and no character development. That’s fine by me. However, my biggest gripe is that the vamps always get the best of the werewolves. I mean, werewolves are the natural predators of vampires. You’d think they’d be tough enough to take them down more often.
Before I end the 2000s, I want to touch on one more wolfy flick, Cursed. Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson (from Scream) made this movie starring Christina Richie. The only stand out kill was the American Pie, foreign exchange student (Shannon Elizabeth) getting ripped in half.
The 2010s haven’t been kind to werewolf fans. We got another Underworld movie (Awakening in 2012) and a Wolfman re-boot with Benicio Del Toro in 2010. I didn’t think Wolfman was awful.
Another film to check out is Wer (2014), which I think went straight to video. It follows AJ Cook who defends a werewolf serial killer in France. Anyway, it’s got some gory action pieces, but I wouldn’t call it scary.
We also got a new take on Little Red Riding Hood in 2011. Amanda Seyfried stars as Valerie in a horror-romance. It’s got some blood and nice cinematography. But it’s just meh.
I hope the roarin’ 20s gives me a straight up horror wolf flick soon.
Jacob Rice began investigating and writing about monsters in 2007. He has published 3 books on ghost hunting, ghost stories and paranormal protection. His podcast, Ghostly Activities, dives into these topics even more. You can also watch his ghost hunts on the Ghostly Activities YouTube channel. He lives in Olympia, Washington.