When I decided to write a Top 5 Werewolf Movies list I seriously underestimated what an undertaking it would be. I didn’t realize just HOW many werewolf movies there were out there. I wanted to compile a list of only THE BEST werewolf movies, the MUST SEES, and there are a lot of GREAT creature features out there to choose from. Narrowing this list was not an easy task.
#5 Silver Bullet (1985)
Coming in at number five is Silver Bullet. This one holds a special place in my heart because not only is it based on the graphic novella by my man- Stephen King, but it starred a couple of my solid 80s favorites like Corey Haim and Megan Follows. Corey Haim is Marty, (any girl growing up in the 80s knew the two Coreys and often had magazine photos of one or both boys plastered on her bedroom walls- 80s FACT… I was a Haim girl). Corey starred opposite Megan Follows as Jane, Marty’s older sister. I’m an East Coast Canadian woman and part of your rite of passage into womanhood when you live around these parts is devouring all of Lucy Maude Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables books as pre-teen. Megan was best known for her TV role as Anne here in Canada around this time. Then we have Gary Busey portraying the fun fuck-up Uncle Red. The story follows a young paraplegic boy, Marty and his rocky relationship with his sister as they grow up in Tarker’s Mills, Maine. The story goes back to 1976 when a series of gruesome murders hit the small town.
It’s remained one of my favorites to this day. Maybe it’s the coming of age portion of the film, the religious aspect of the story’s premise, the stellar acting performances by both Haim and Follows, or the simple fact that it’s a Stephen King werewolf tale. Sure, the werewolf design isn’t anything to write home about, King wanted to keep the design simple, opting for a werewolf suit that looked more like a big-eared bear but all in all – it’s an exceptional story that translates well into film.
#4 Dog Soldiers (2002)
OK, this movie was just ACTION-PACKED! Written, directed and edited by Neil Marshall (The Descent 2005/ Hellboy (2019). Marshall is considered one of the less than dozen members of the Splat Pack, a small group of indie filmmakers credited for reviving the gore genre with relatively low budgets. Other members include: Eli Roth, James Wan, Rob Zombie, Leigh Whannell etc. It’s a super intense watch. I absolutely LOVED it! This is one of two UK bangers I came across. A squad of British soldiers are doing a training exercise against the Special Air Training unit in the Scottish Highlands. The following day, the squad discover the ghoulish bloody remains of the SAS unit. Attacks on the men are quick and fierce with just a flash of fur and fangs. A zoologist ushers the men to safety in an abandoned home which eventually becomes a target for the werewolves turning the men into sitting ducks. But hey, they have that zoologist on their side and she’s very knowledgeable. This movie had some unexpected twists, some great action sequences and violence; some engaging dialogue as well as humor. The creature effects were top notch, using makeup effects, special visual effects, digital and some fairly impressive animatronic effects. No wolf suits here. If you’re looking for a good entertaining Saturday night watch, I highly recommend.
#3 The Wolfman (2010)
I hovered between the Wolfman and 2015’s Howl for the number three spot. I went with the Wolfman because it’s a definitive story in the werewolf genre . A remake of the 1941 classic starring Lon Chaney Jr, the 2010 story tells the tale of Shakespearean actor, Lawrence Todd who returns to his homestead after hearing the news that his brother has gone missing. The film stars Benicio Del Toro, Emily Blunt and the incomparable Anthony Hopkins. The story takes place in 1891 making for a beautifully haunting aesthetic. Eerily lit by torches and candlelight, with extensive costuming.
Hearing of an attack 25 years prior in the community, Todd looks for answers but what he gets is bitten and a lesson in family legacy.
The werewolf transformation scenes are highly reminiscent of An American Werewolf in London– that’s because the makeup and effects in both films were done by the uber-talented Rick Baker, who, consequently acquired two Oscars for his work in Werewolf in London and the Wolfman.
Here’s Del Toro’s transformation:
It’s a struggle of good versus evil- the evils inside men. A struggle of maintaining morality and humanity. Despite the stellar performances of an impeccable cast and a lofty $150M budget, the film was sadly met with negative reviews. Personally, I loved it. It’s everything you’re looking for in a classic werewolf movie.
#2 An American Werewolf in London(1981)
I know I’m going to catch flack for putting this coveted fan favorite in the number two slot, but I have my reasons. Is this one of THE BEST werewolf movies EVER made? A resounding YES! However, I looked at the follow up as well which was less than impressive.
This was THE FIRST werewolf movie I ever saw. I watched it at 12 with a friend late one night- and immediately regretted it. For years I’d be haunted by nightmares of being chased by wolves. So needless to say this movie was effective at scaring the acid wash pants off this 12 year old. Two friends go backpacking in the English countryside… At night… Alone… Great idea! To quench their thirst they stop in at a pub called The Slaughtered Lamb (sounds promising). The pub contains some stand offish locals who eventually become hostile when Jack (Griffin Dunne) notices a five pointed star on the wall and asks about it. Once it becomes clear they are unwelcome they head out and start walking again with the warnings of the pub-goers who advise them to “keep to the road, stay clear of the moors and beware of the full moon.”
Naturally, they wander off path straight into the moors leaving them vulnerable to a visceral animal attack which kills Jack and leaves David injured (David Naughton). The film follows David as he struggles to come to terms with the traumatic death of his friend and the changes occurring inside of him. The pinnacle of werewolf transformation scenes can be found here. Damn you Rick Baker! Let’s take a look!
This can easily be touted as THE FAN FAVORITE of werewolf movies for obvious reasons. The acting is great, the writing is superb (for 1981), there’s action, romance, violence. It’s just a phenomenal film. The only thing that ruined it for me… Was the sequel. Less than impressive, sixteen years after the first one, a little late… It just felt like there was no need to add to this franchise. An American Werewolf in Paris is by no means at all in the same league as London.
#1 Ginger Snaps (2000) / 2004
THESE WERE MY PERSONAL FAVORITES! End of! No, I’m not being partial because it’s a Canadian series, though that is always a delightful surprise. The first instalment was directed by John Fawcett (Orphan Black), the second- Brett Sullivan, and the third was directed by Grant Harvey. All three installments star the incredible team of Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins. Two sisters whose bond shall never be broken, not even in death.
The first movie follows outcasts, Ginger and Brigitte who have a pact to move out of the ‘burbs or kill themselves by 16. The two share a morbid and unhealthy fascination with death as they navigate the unforgiving world of high school. After a series of brutal dog deaths in their town, the pair decide to kidnap a neighbor bully’s dog in retaliation just as Ginger starts her first period. This inevitably results in a brutal animal attack which permanently changes the lives of the two girls forever. Brigitte desperately tries to protect her sister, and keep her under control. This is a lot for a 16 year old girl to handle.
The second movie: Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed (2004)
The sequel follows Brigitte as she comes to terms with the fact that she’s becoming a werewolf like her ill-fated sister. Trying to live as a normal teenage girl hiding the very obvious changes in her body. Researching Lycanthropy she stumbles across monkshood, also known as Wolf’s Bane. The herb is said to slow down the transformation process but is in no means a cure. Once injected she senses a male wolf that seems to be stalking her. After a second dose she goes into toxic shock and on her way to the hospital her friend, Jeremy is brutally killed by that male wolf.
Brigitte wakes up in a rehab type setting with other troubled teens. Unable to use the monkhood regularly means Brigitte’s full transformation is nearing. She’s growing stronger, she’s growing hair and a tail, she’s feeling urges and needs to get out. Befriending a girl named Ghost at the the clinic gives her an escape partner. The second movie is a little gorier than the first, and relies on a few jump scares. Not AS good as the first but it was still a great watch and it held my attention throughout.
The third movie: Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning (2004)
We go back to the days of yore, it’s 1815 and in the spring the men travel to Hudson Bay to trade their pelts and furs for winter provisions… No one returns. Ever. Released the same year as Ginger Snaps: Unleashed, it offers a what if type of backstory of werewolves in central Canada. It involves the same sisters struggling to survive in the harsh Canadian winter with little to no provisions. Getting lost in the woods they stumble upon an abandoned camp where an old Cree woman warns them that they must kill a boy to prevent one sister from killing the other. The girls are slowly being encircled by howling creatures until a Cree man, The Hunter saves them and takes to Fort Bailey for safety. The girls maintain that they are orphaned daughters and are seeking passage east.
We learn the creatures are indeed werewolves that have been attacking the region for quite some time. There is a secret that the fort leader is keeping. One of the girls end up bit. I won’t say who- spoilers. The other sister must keep her safe while they dodge danger, while they try to determine what boy they must kill in order to survive. There’s a lot of action in this one. With great effects, a unique story and the gorgeous eerie dark aesthetic, I preferred this instalment over the second. It was unique, and garnered higher reviews.
Why did I choose Ginger Snaps as my number one?
There’s a lot of metaphorical undertones in these films which is part of their charm. It’s not just about werewolves. It’s about being different- an outsider, it’s about the strong bond between two sisters that in itself can be seen almost romantically. It’s about coming of age and all the awkward and sometimes horrific experiences we endure. It’s about addiction, it’s about sexuality, it’s about survival and grief. Unlike other horror movie franchises, each Ginger Snaps instalment is great on its own. The writing, plot, action and acting remained solid throughout all three movies. Ginger Snaps has acquired a HUGE cult following and it’s easy to see why.
Intense as fuck. A unique take on the traditional werewolf creature design.
This one flew under my radar. How it only garnered a 63% on Rotten Tomatoes- I have no idea. A group of strangers on a midnight train running through the quaint and overly foggy English countryside. We have a mechanical failure after hitting a deer… uh oh. The folks in the train become sitting sardines for the creatures in that sinister looking forest. Not only was this a really intense watch with some great Holy Shit! moments, but it took a fresh new take on the standard werewolf creature design. These things are UGLY and fierce. I highly recommend this one for anyone who enjoys intense, gruesome thrill rides. Very entertaining. 👍👍
The Wolf of Snow Hollow (2020)
I wanted to include this gem I stumbled upon one night. The werewolf movie that isn’t. I won’t give away spoilers but I will tell you that it’s a highly enjoyable watch. A series of gruesome murders hit a small ski resort town that just happen to occur during the full moon. It’s like Jaws meets Silver Bullet. We have a mentally unstable, highly stressed, ex alcoholic police officer perfectly portrayed by Jim Cummings who, by the way, is also the director of the movie. His portrayal of Officer John Marshall gave me serious Bruce Campbell/Evil Dead vibes. Some substantial murder scenes, a lot of wit and humor with a real whodunnit feel and a surprise ending. If you haven’t caught it yet, I recommend finding it!
Scoring a whopping 16% on Rotten Tomatoes, this was Wes Craven’s contribution to the werewolf genre. With a promising cast of Christina Ricci, Jesse Eisenberg, Joshua Jackson and Shannon Elizabeth, plus more… I mean this cast was STACKED and it had real potential but the development process was a nightmare. Thanks to the now defunct Miramax. Essentially, Bob and Harvey Weinstein royally fucked this movie with constant re-shoots, plot changes, even firing THE werewolf makeup DUDE- Rick Baker, the final result ended up being predictable, cheesy and a flop. Even Craven didn’t like this movie. I only mention it because it’s A) Wes Craven 🥰, B) Had major potential, C) Ended up a massive fail. That being said, it’s still worth the watch if you’re in the mood for a predictable werewolf movie.
Do you agree with my picks? What are your favorite werewolf movies? Drop a comment!
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Dog Soldiers Poster https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/dog_soldiers
The Wolfman Poster https://www.uphe.com/movies/the-wolfman-2010
An American Werewolf in London Poster http://www.comicon.com/2019/12/22/an-american-werewolf-in-london-gets-a-definitive-blu-ray-release/
Ginger Snaps Trilogy https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/29695678767779930/
Howl Werewolf https://www.slashfilm.com/best-werewolf-movies/2/
The Wolf of Snow Hollow (attack) https://www.shacknews.com/cortex/article/253/the-wolf-of-snow-hollow