The werewolf genre as a whole has a long history in popular culture but this particular subgenre owes a lot to the universal monster movies of the 40’s, most notably The Wolfman (1941), which played off of a lot of traditional folklore such as the use of silver bullets and the presence of a full moon.
Lon Chaney Jr., played the role of the now iconic wolfman many times over the next decade, with notable entries being House of Frankenstein (1944) and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948).
Despite the boom in monster movie fare that emerged from the 1940’s, the true golden age of werewolf movies wasn’t until the 1980’s, which saw the release of three high profile werewolf films one after another. The Howling (1981), An American Werewolf in London (1981), and Wolfen (1981) were all infinitely scarier than their lycanthropic predecessors that came before them, but only one of them managed to pay tribute to the classic wolfman while also presenting a unique spin on the werewolf mythos.
If you’re looking for an introduction into the werewolf genre there is simply no better film than An American Werewolf in London (1981). Its witty and terrifying, deftly striking a unique tone between humor and horror; most notably remembered for its brutal transformation scene and masterful makeup by the legendary Rick Baker (who coincidentally, almost worked on The Howling).
It took almost 20 years for another werewolf film to emerge as a worthy predecessor to this now iconic film. After the completely forgettable sequel, An American Werewolf in Paris (1997), werewolves were lacking a serious presence in horror films. This was all changed by the release of Ginger Snaps (2000), a film that contains one of the most blatant metaphors for puberty in cinema, and Dog Soldiers (2002), perfect for anyone who enjoys the gore and brutality of director Neil Marshall.
There has been a noticeable lack of truly scary werewolf films within the last decade, but there are exceptions that suggest there are still original werewolf stories yet to be told. A remake of the old classic, The Wolfman (2010) was not original by any means but was way better than it had any right to be. Wer (2013) and Howl (2015) are both recent entries that provide fun spins on the genre and both are definitely worth checking out.
Is your favorite werewolf flick not mentioned here? Let us know what we might have missed, and if you’ve seen any of these movies let us know you think of it by rating it!
Top 10 Werewolf Horror Movies
Hour of the Wolf
Released: 09 Apr 1968 |
Director: Ingmar Bergman
While vacationing on a remote Scandanavian island with his younger pregnant wife, an artist has a emotional breakdown while... [read more]
An American Werewolf in London
Released: 21 Aug 1981 |
Director: John Landis
Two American college students on a walking tour of Britain are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit... [read more]
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
Released: 15 Jun 1948 |
Director: Charles Barton
Two hapless freight handlers find themselves encountering Dracula, the Frankenstein Monster and the Wolf Man.
The Wolf Man
Released: 12 Dec 1941 |
Director: George Waggner
A practical man returns to his homeland, is attacked by a creature of folklore, and infected with a horrific disease his... [read more]
Released: 10 May 2002 |
Director: Neil Marshall
A routine military exercise turns into a nightmare in the Scotland wilderness.
The Curse of the Werewolf
Released: 07 Jun 1961 |
Director: Terence Fisher
In Spain, Leon is born on Christmas day to a mute servant girl who was raped by a beggar. His mother dies giving birth and... [read more]
Released: 11 May 2001 |
Director: John Fawcett
Two death-obsessed sisters, outcasts in their suburban neighborhood, must deal with the tragic consequences when one of them... [read more]
Released: 10 Apr 1981 |
Director: Joe Dante
After a bizarre and near fatal encounter with a serial killer, a television newswoman is sent to a remote mountain resort... [read more]
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man
Released: 05 Mar 1943 |
Director: Roy William Neill
Larry Talbot chips Frankenstein's monster out of a block of ice. When Talbot changes to the Wolf Man, the two creatures do... [read more]
Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed
Released: 30 Jan 2004 |
Director: Brett Sullivan
Ginger's sister Brigitte, now a werewolf herself, must try to find a cure for her blood lust before the next full moon while... [read more]