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
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.
Released: 10 May 2002 |
Director: Neil Marshall
A routine military exercise turns into a nightmare in the Scotland wilderness.