Top 10 Werewolf Movies

Werewolf movies have gone from the sublime to the ridiculous. For every An American Werewolf In London there’s a My Mom’s A Werewolf to brings us back down to earth. Here’s the 10 best.

The werewolf movie. A genre that has stuttered its way through the decades with films ranging from the sublime (An American Werewolf In London) to the distinctly average (Cursed) to the ridiculous (My Mom’s A Werewolf). There has always been something more terrifying about the werewolf than its more popular mythological cousin the vampire, but whereas the bloodsuckers have been shown in all manner of lights (from comedy to character-study to postmodern revisionism) the werewolf has continued to get a bad reputation. And much of that has been down to its unfairly poor showing on the big screen.

Unlike the vampire, which has turned up in various guises from romantic love interest (Twilight) to the homeless savage (Near Dark), the werewolf has had to manage with moonlit excursions into dark alleys for dinner of human arm for starter followed by heart and lungs for main. Perhaps writers just haven’t found the scope in the mythological character to pursue interesting and unique stories. But a few have appeared such as the seminal horror-comedy An American Werewolf In London, the teenage-angst and sexual frustration of Ginger Snaps, the detective murder-mystery found in Wolfen, and the bedtime fable The Company of Wolves.

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What are your favourite werewolf movies? Let us know in the comments below.

10. Curse of the Werewolf (Fisher , 1961)

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Hammer Films’ attempt at the werewolf movie sees Oliver Reed grow a hairy beard and stomp around Bray Studios trying to eat human flesh. This convoluted tale isn’t without its highlights, especially Oliver Reed’s performance as the cursed Leon.
Discover More: Exclamation Mark review

9. Teen Wolf (Daniel, 1985)

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Michael J. Fox becomes a hairy beast in this family-friendly coming-of-age story that arrived at a time when teen comedy was at the heights of its power. Amidst the John Hughes and Savage Steve Holland movies, Teen Wolf stuck in to show high school life from the point of view of a teen who can’t help but howl at the moon. Teen Wolf steps on similar ground as Ginger Snaps but has a much lighter tone, in that the werewolf curse afflicts the boy when he reaches a certain age thanks to his Dad being a werewolf too. It’s silly stuff and diverts into a sports movie by the end but Teen Wolf will remain a favourite for 1980s audiences wanting a dose of nostalgic high school comedy.
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8. The Company of Wolves (Jordan, 1984)

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Based on Angela Carter’s short story, Neil Jordan’s dreamlike fantasy film takes on a fairytale narrative that concludes with a very moralistic message. The Company of Wolves is like none of the other werewolf movies on this list but its influence can be seen in the teenage turmoil that resurfaces in Ginger Snaps.
Discover More: Bright Lights Film Journal

7. Dog Soldiers (Marshall, 2002)

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See my full review
Dog Soldiers would inevitably be higher on this list if it had an original bone in its hairy body. This entertaining, fast-paced, tongue-in-cheek werewolf movie sounds like a lot of fun (guys with guns fighting a pack of man-hungry werewolves) and is a lot of fun but borrows heavily from werewolf films such as The Howling and Silver Bullet and other action-horror’s such as Aliens, Predator and even The Blair Witch Project. At times I’m left wondering what is a homage and what is a rip-off.

When a team of British soldiers find their training mission cut short by a deadly attack from a group of angry lycanthrope, they ditch the blanks for live ammunition and hide out in a secluded cottage. But soon the werewolves are circling the insecure haven and the tired infantry men are running out of bullets.
Discover More: Cinefantastique review | Live For Films interview with the guy in the suit Leslie Simpson

6. Wolfen (Wadleigh, 1981)

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1981 was a great year for werewolf movies. Wolfen takes a different stance on the werewolf myth, shedding much of the traditional conventions for a more modern look at the beast. The film also features one of the earlier uses of an in-camera effect similar to that used in Predator to display the perspective of the werewolves themselves. Wolfen is essentially a murder-mystery detective story set in New York. Albert Finney is great as detective Dewey Wilson who is given the unenviable task of unearthing the culprit behind a series of bizarre murders.
Discover More: From New York to San Francisco

5. The Howling (Dante, 1981)

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Joe Dante’s attempt at a werewolf movie fails to reach the amusing delights of some of his other horror-comedies, taking more of a straight-edged tone and paying homage to some of the genre’s classic conventions. He does find time to satirise the media and there’s some genuinely frightening moments. The opening sequence in which a news reporter tries to trap a psychotic is nail-biting stuff.
Discover More: Gruesome Details review | John of the Dead review

See also: Top 10 Zombie Films

4. The Wolf Man (Waggner, 1941)

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One of the earliest werewolf movies and still one of the best, The Wolf Man takes the werewolf myth established six years earlier in Universal’s Werewolf of London and adds the silver bullet element to the story. With a fantastic cast that included Lon Chaney Jr., Claude Rains, Ralph Bellamy and Bela Lugosi, The Wolf Man is classic werewolf movie which has had a major influence on the genre ever since.
Discover More: Classic Horror.com review | Notes on the 2010 remake at The Movie Blog

See also: Top 10 Scariest Films Ever Made

3. Silver Bullet (Attias, 1985)

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See my full review
Renowned horror writer Stephen King tries his hand at the werewolf genre and creates an original story that borrows from werewolf traditions while finding some new ones. Corey Haim is a paraplegic child living in the small town of Tarker’s Mills. A spate of murders have been occurring and the townsfolk are sniffing blood. But Haim thinks he’s onto something when he gets attacked by the werewolf, escaping thanks to firing one of his fireworks into the creatures eye. Now all he has to do is find the person in town with one eye to reveal the werewolf’s identity. Silver Bullet mixes humour with horror to great effect. One super scene – that was nicked by Neil Marshall for his homage/rip-off movie Dog Soldiers – sees a burly beer guzzler searching the forest with his trusty baseball bat. When he happens across the werewolf he tries to attack in vain. We see a haze of murky smoke and the frantic shuffle of trees as a hairy werewolf arm reaches into the night air, the baseball bat in its clutches, and brings it down on the man with a bone breaking thud.

See also: Top 10 Stephen King Film Adaptations

2. Ginger Snaps (Fawcett, 2000)

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See my full review
Werewolf lore meets teenager hormones in John Fawcett’s modern day take on the genre. Sisters Ginger and Brigitte find themselves in a spot of trouble after Ginger gets attacked by a werewolf and begins to slowly change into the bloodthirsty beast. Brigitte frantically tries to find a cure but Ginger’s appetite for human flesh is growing and time is running out. Ginger Snaps offers an original look at the coming of age teen drama through the trappings of a werewolf curse. It makes for a interesting and suitably gory horror film that is a cut above the teen horror movies of the late 1990s and 2000s.
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See also: Top 10 Scariest Movie Scenes

1. An American Werewolf In London (Landis, 1981)

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John Landis’ 1981 werewolf movie sits at the top of most werewolf lists for good reasons. It is, without any doubt, the finest werewolf film ever released thanks to a wry sense of humour, a sparkling, original script, some astonishing make-up and prosthetic special-effects, and Landis’ foreboding, icy cold sense of direction that makes fantastic use of the English setting (including London and the countryside moors where the first werewolf attack takes place). Landis also concocts a horror-comedy, the first of its kind, that makes complete use of both genres. The film is at once funny and frightening, making both extremes more effective. An American Werewolf In London also features the best werewolf transformation scene thanks to David Naughton’s spirited performance and Rick Baker’s sensational use of make-up and prosthetics. And, of course, we must not forget Griffin Dunne’s slowly decaying corpse who turns up to scare both Naughton and the audience throughout the film, as well as Landis’ inspired use of moon-related rock and blues songs for the soundtrack.
Discover More: Mutant Reviewers review

See also: He’ll make you laugh, then he’ll make you scream: The Films of John Landis | Top 10 John Landis Films | Top 10 Horror Films of the 1980s

Written and compiled by Daniel Stephens.

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Your turn – what are your favourite werewolf movies?

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About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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  1. M. Hufstader Reply

    Great list! An American Werewolf In London is a damn classic, and one that will never get old no matter how many times I see it. It’s ridiculous and campy, but entirely brilliant. And now I wish Halloween was here so I could watch it without feeling nostalgic for that time of the year.

  2. John Reply

    This is a topic that I think about several times a year… because I’m weird like that. And because I find the werewolf myth to be extremely cool- it’s a built in character arc.

    On my list, I’d have the original Wolf Man at #1- here’s my defense of it not only as a werewolf classic, but one of the best horrors around:

    http://thedroidyourelookingfor.wordpress.com/2010/10/13/universal-studios-alpha-dog/

    Big thumbs up for including Ginger Snaps, Wolfen, and The Howling. I’d probably have all three right behind The Wolf Man. I enjoyed An American Werewolf in London but wasn’t quite as enamored with it as most. That having been said, I’m in the minority on it.

    There are really only two on here where I disagree (respectfully, of course, because this stuff is subjective). I thought Silver Bullet was downright bad, and The Company of Wolves didn’t do much for me.

    Anyway, this list is awesome. It’s a great read.

  3. Richard Reply

    Great list, Dan. I would have put Dog Soldiers higher up, though. Never really bothered me that it was unoriginal. The werewolf movie doesn’t have very far to go and it was so much fun. And it may not be a straight werewolf movie, but I’d have to put Monster Squad in. :-D

    Glad to see The Company of Wolves getting a nod. Little gem, that one.

  4. James Blake Ewing Reply

    I need to catch up on these. The Wolf Man is the only classic Universal horror film from the iconic trio that I thought was any good. I think there’s just something a bit more appealing about werewolves, at least to me.

  5. CS Reply

    Really cannot argue with this list. I would have picked the same films in the #1 and #2 spot. Glad to see Teen Wolf get some love! Let us have a moment of silence for Teen Wolf 2…

  6. Dan Reply

    @M. Hufstader: I should have got this list ready for last Halloween or waited for this one. But I was reviewing Ginger Snaps having seen it recently and thought – now’s the time for a werewolf list. Thanks for stopping by!

    @John: I’m not The Company of Wolves biggest fan but I do think it is an interesting piece of work and one that is original enough to merit a place on any top 10 list involving werewolves. But I definitely see your point. Great to see so much love for The Wolf Man. Wasn’t the remake pointless!

    @Richard: I think that’s why I had to include The Company of Wolves. As I say, I’m not its biggest fan but it is different and that’s why its a worthy addition to the list. I certainly think it’s a film werewolf and horror film fans should see at least once.

    @James: Yeah, I’ve always found werewolves to be one of the best of the classic monsters. Shame there’s so many poor werewolf movies.

    @CS: “Let’s have a moment of silence for Teen Wolf 2″ – haha! :)

  7. JasonW Reply

    I have got to see Oliver Reed as a werewolf – love the pic! Dog Soldiers is one of my favourites from recent years but I felt Neil Marshall went one better with The Descent.

  8. Dan Reply

    @JasonW: Yep, check out Curse of the Werewolf, it’s definitely worth seeing.

  9. Aiden R. Reply

    Glad to see the appropriate pick at the #1 spot. Hell to the yeah. But also glad to see Silver Bullet up there, too. That was a gnarly movie, mainly for the stuff you didn’t get to see, and that priest was a DICK, man!

  10. Dan Reply

    @Aiden: Glad to see another Silver Bullet fan. We should start a club, there aren’t many of us out there!

    I love the whole idea of Corey Haim’s sister going round the neighbourhood looking for the guy with one eye. And the bit when the werewolf grabs the baseball bat off the red neck and starts beating him over the head with it. That was another thing ‘borrowed’ by Neil Marshall for Dog Soldiers! :)

  11. rtm Reply

    I haven’t seen a lot of werewolf movies, but remember seeing Teen Wolf and Silver Bullet when I was a kid. Was kinda looking forward to seeing The Wolfman from last year but the reviews discouraged me.

  12. Anderson Reply

    Argh! American Werewolf used to scare me crazy when I was a kid. Love that film!

  13. Dan Reply

    @rtm: Nah, I didn’t like The Wolfman, don’t rush to see it Ruth. I’d recommend seeing The Company of Wolves as it’s less a horror movie and more a morality fable.

    @Anderson: You can’t beat a bit of “Beware the moon, lads!”

  14. Novroz Reply

    I love reading this even though I don’t know most of the movies. I am not into both werewolf and vampire.

    I am really curious with Silver Bullet as it is a movie based on SK’s books. I have only seen The Michael J Fox movie and I remember that I liked it back then, because it is a light story.

    I watched wolfman in 2010 because I love the actors. It was good but not impressive.

    By the way…Happy birthday Dan :)

  15. Fitz Reply

    “Did your common sense get crippled along with your legs!”

    Oh, Gary Busey.

  16. Luke Reply

    Great list idea – you basically made me feel like a werewolf-movie dunce. I haven’t seen any of these! Some of those stills are very disturbing though… This Dog Soldiers movie that I’ve never heard of looks a little demented… :)

  17. Gage Reply

    Silver Bullet hands down is the best of all the werewolf films.

  18. Film Samurai Reply

    Great list and I am in total agreement with your number one choice of An American Werewolf In London. A perfect blend of horror and humor by the great John Landis. Plus the bonus of non-CGI werewolf by the horror FX master Rick Baker.

    I also applaud your inclusion of The Company of Wolves. This movie is very underrated.

  19. ROB Reply

    What about the other two Ginger Snaps movies? Not to mention Cursed and An American Werewolf in Paris.

  20. ROB Reply

    Oh and The Wolf Man starring Del Torro

  21. savannahchimp Reply

    I really enjoy “Wolf” with Jack Nicholson because, well, Jack Nicholson. In the span of like 5 minutes he finds a finger in his pocket and “marks his territory” on a co-worker’s leg.

  22. Chainsawjack Reply

    I do take issue with an omission from this list that I beleive belongs here ahead of some others. That would be the movie Bad Moon from 1997. The wolf was one of the best we’ve seen, and the fight between thor and the wolf at the end is phenomenal. I would point out that to the dog the beast was real.

  23. lahaine Reply

    Where is bad moon ?

  24. Natas Reply

    If the writer of this article had bothered to realise that Dog Soldiers is a Soldier film with Werewolves. It should not really be in this list, also its the most realistic depiction of British Soldiers i have ever seen in a movie.

  25. Dan Reply

    @Natas: Thanks for the comment Natas. I agree that Neil Marshall’s film is a very authentic realisation of the British military and its training procedures but that doesn’t make it any less a “werewolf” film. James Cameron’s Aliens took its futuristic military practices very seriously, and based much of its tactics and weaponry on real procedures and real weapons, but that doesn’t make it any less a film about “aliens”.

    One of the reasons Dog Soldiers is such a good genre film is because of the reasons you say – its authenticity. But taking it off the list because it is a “soldier” film would mean removing most of the others – for example, should I get rid of Ginger Snaps because it’s really a teen coming-of-age movie with werewolves?

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