On nights with a full moon when you hear a deep howling in the night that shoots shivers up your spine, have you ever wondered if that cry was more than just a mere wolf? Werewolves – also known as lycanthropes – are mythical creatures that allow a human to shape shift into wolves or wolf-like creatures. This usually happens due to some sort of magic, a curse, or possibly by being bitten/scratched by another werewolf. Some legends say that werewolves can be killed by silver; or more specifically, a silver bullet. Others say that silver isn’t necessary as long as the brain and heart are completely destroyed. Werewolves, are considered one of the classic horror monsters of all time and have been terrorizing fans for decades, making them a fan favorite. Half man, half beast, the opportunity to experience two different worlds, undeniable blood thirst, intense transformations, and incredible strength…what’s not to love? Here’s a list of what I consider to be the best werewolf movies thus far.
11. Wolf Cop (2014)
A recent Canadian horror comedy directed by Lowell Dean, Wolf Cop is a new fan favorite among horror audiences. While investigating eerie and horribly violent crimes happening in his small town, alcoholic cop named Lou Garou (Leo Fafard) is cursed into a werewolf. Using his new super skills for the greater good, he continues working as a cop and taking on the town’s crime. Although this movie isn’t for everyone, it’s a must see for any horror fan. After all, it’s not everyday that you see a wolf man dressed in a cop uniform. Maybe it’s not the greatest werewolf movie ever made, but it’s still a lot of fun.
One of the first werewolf movies while also remaining a classic, The Wolf Man is an American horror drama directed by George Waggner. After his brother’s death, Larry (Lon Chaney, Jr.), returns to his hometown and becomes smitten with a local girl who runs a cute antique shop. To impress her, he buys a walking stick with a silver top and soon after has to use it against what appears to be a wolf attack on the girl’s friend. He kills the wolf, but is left with a bite mark. He soon discovers the horror of the situation and that he, too, will soon transform into a wolf… a werewolf. The legacy of the film has remained strong throughout the years, including four sequels a standard for each werewolf flick to be judged by.
9. Cursed (2005)
This movie is hit or miss among the horror community. However, I personally enjoy it. Directed by the legendary Wes Craven, Cursed stars Christina Ricci and Jesse Eisenberg as a brother and sister who are attacked by what appears to be a giant wolf. Later on, as transformations (both positive and negative ones) begin to happen to the now estranged siblings, they slowly investigate what really bit them and where the truth lies. Not only is this a fun movie, it also stars the devilishly handsome Joshua Jackson as Ricci’s boyfriend. And that’s enough for me to jump right in!
8. Wolf (1994)
The next werewolf movie is one I believe doesn’t receive the credit and recognition it deserves. The Wolf, directed by Mike Nichols, is an awesome romantic horror movie. Not only is the story great, but it has an award-winning cast, including Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer, James Spader, Kate Nelligan, Richard Jenkins, Christopher Plummer, and more. Life can’t get much worse for publisher Will Randall (Nicholson). He is bitten by a wolf while driving home, followed by getting demoted and replaced by a man whom he assumes is sleeping with his wife. When his deepest fears come true, the wolf inside him grows and he loses it. After his life changes before him, his daughter helps him move on and learn to adapt to this new way of living. They must seek ways to subdue the beast inside him for his safety and the safety of everyone around him. If you haven’t seen it, please do!
7. Silver Bullet (1985)
Silver Bullet, directed by Daniel Attias, is based off of one Stephen King’s novellas, Cycle of the Werewolf. The narrator of the story is the oldest sister of the Coslaw family, which consists of her parents and her younger paraplegic brother, Marty (Corey Haim). Along for the ride as well is their Uncle Red (Gary Busey), who, after a series of murders plagues their town, builds a customized wheelchair-motorcycle for Marty and nicknames it “Silver Bullet.” While Marty is out having fun in the woods in his new transportation he is ambushed by the beast that has been terrorizing the town – a werewolf – but escapes the situation by shooting a firework into its eye. After the attack, the townspeople search for a man with an injured eye, but who could it be? This is a classic ’80s horror movie that is great for the whole family.
An American horror movie directed by Eric Red, Bad Moon is based off of the novel Thor by Wayne Smith. It is a great, underrated werewolf story filled with nods to other werewolf movies throughout. Although Bad Moon wasn’t a box office hit, it is loved by many horror fans, and the deserves a watch. While making love in a tent, a couple is interrupted by a vicious wolf that attacks the woman. When Ted (Michael Pare) tries to rescue her from the attack, he is bitten and thrown back. He grabs his shotgun and kills the wolf, but not in time to save his girl. At first he isolates himself in the woods, but after awhile decides to reach out to his family. When they come out to visit him with their family dog Thor, Ted becomes uneasy as the canine easily detects the beast within. While killings keep happening in the woods, the family begins to wonder what is really going on and soon discovers the truth behind Ted’s condition.
5. Teen Wolf (1985)
Yes, I’m aware this is not a horror movie. However, it is nonetheless one of the best werewolf movies ever. Teen Wolf, directed by Rod Daniel, is a fantasy comedy movie starring the talented Michael J. Fox. Just when you think high school is rough enough with teachers, homework, and peer pressure, your body begins to go through physical and hormonal changes…but you never expect those changes to be this extreme! When 17-year-old Scott Howard (Michael J. Fox) dreamed of standing out from the crowd and catching the eye of the girl of his dreams, he never knew what it would take. One day when his body begins to change, he chalks it up to hormones, but when those changes become extreme, he panics and discovers the truth of his family history – werewolf history. Becoming a werewolf has all of his dreams coming true, but is it what he really wants? Not only is Teen Wolf still a favorite among all age groups, but years later it spawned the hit TV series, creating a whole new fan base.
4. Dog Soldiers (2002)
Over the last few years, Dog Soldiers, directed by Neil Marshall, has become one of the most popular and beloved werewolf movies ever. But why is it so popular? Perhaps it is its unique story that stands out among the rest. During a routine army training mission in the Scottish wilderness, a small group of soldiers happen upon a horrible, bloody massacre and soon after they almost become meals to some vicious attackers. They’re saved by a zoologist who claims that the attacks are by half man/half wolf creatures. Secluded with no way to contact anyone or travel anywhere for help, they seek shelter in a farmhouse and try to survive the night of the full moon.
3. The Howling (1981)
The Howling is an American horror movie directed by the legendary Joe Dante and based off a novel with the same name by Gary Brander. After a traumatic situation aiding the police to arrest a serial killer, television journalist Karen White (Dee Wallace) is recommended by her doctor to seek help at an isolated psychiatric retreat. As bizarre and interesting incidents keep happening at the small colony, Karen seeks aid through friends and discovers that the colony is inhabited by werewolves. This is one of the top werewolf movies for horror fans and a must see for fans of all genres. With a well-told story, an awesome cast, unique circumstances, and a sense of mystery, what’s not to love?
2. Ginger Snaps (2002)
A Canadian horror movie directed by John Fawcett, Ginger Snaps has been biting its way up the ladder to be one of the best werewolf movies ever made. With a brilliant cast, the movie focuses on the teenage misfit Fitzgerald sisters, Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) and Brigitte (Emily Perkins), who have an obsession with death and often spend their time reenacting death scenes on film. One night, Ginger complains of stomach cramps and soon realizes she has gotten her first period. Soon after, she is attacked by a vicious beast outside but is rescued by Brigitte and a local drug dealer who hits the creature with his truck. As the days go on, Ginger changes internally and physically, attracting the opposite sex, becoming more confident, and dealing with a hunger that can’t be stopped. When it becomes apparent that Ginger is a werewolf and that her blood thirst can’t be contained, Brigitte will do anything to save her sister and the people around her from this deadly curse. This movie has a great number of puns and relatable moments which adds to its appeal. The transformation into a werewolf is compared to a woman’s change through puberty and the struggle they go through. It’s unique and entertaining, making this movie by far one of the best werewolf movies ever made.
This movie tops this list as one of the greatest werewolf movies in cinematic history. A British-American horror comedy written and directed by John Landis, An American Werewolf in London is an epic story that must be seen. Two American men, David Kessler (David Naughton) and Jack Goodman (Griffin Dunne), are backpacking through Britain when they are abruptly attacked by a werewolf. Jack dies and David is taken to the London hospital where he sees apparitions and has horrid nightmares of his deceased friend telling hat he will change into a werewolf by the next full moon. This movie was a box office hit, laying the stepping stones for all other werewolf movies ever since and not only has people wanting to see them, but always wanting more.
Although there have been several werewolf movies throughout the years, this horror category is still growing strong. Writers and directors keep reinventing new and thrilling stories with intense transformations, unique plots, lovable characters, and making the creatures harder to kill off. These are 11 of what I consider to be the best werewolf movies so far, but there are many more stories out there. Which is your favorite one?