Were you bitten by a giant dog recently? Have your K9 teeth been growing unexpectedly? Were you recently warned by a fortune-teller that you would transform into a monster on the next full moon? If you answered yes to any of these questions: you are a werewolf. I’m so sorry to have to tell you this way, but precautions must be taken. Chain yourself in the stables or make sure you’re tied to a very large tree. Warn your loved ones to stay hidden until dawn. And above all else, don’t forget to wear your stretchy pants.
If you are not a werewolf, then I’ve got nothing but good news for you! Because you are not cursed, you may continue to enjoy late-night fog walks and witchcraft rituals for the foreseeable future. And best of all, you got to watch all the werewolf movies your heart desires. There’s nothing stopping you from enjoying these monster movies if you are suffering from lycanthropy, but I can only imagine it’s a bit like a chef coming home and ordering takeout after a long day in the kitchen. No one wants to bring their work home with them. Not even hairy, human-eating beasts.
With a full moon upon us this evening, and with Halloween just 11 days away, we’ve put together a list of werewolf movies perfect for your 31 Day Horror Movie Challenge watchlist. If you’ve been having trouble finding the perfect werewoof movie to watch this evening, below are 10 stories guaranteed to make you howl. If you’re just about to watch your first werewolf movie or you’re tired of those old favorites and looking for something a little off the beaten path, this is the list for you.
10. Trick ‘r Treat (2007)
Trick ‘r Treat isn’t technicaly a werewolf movie, but it is a horror anthology with a werewolf story smack dab in the center of it. The entire movies takes place on Halloween night as well, which is always an immediate sell for me. Although the werewolves aren’t the main attraction of this story, they are given one of the coolest transformation sequences since John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London.
These dang werewolves shed their skin like their taking off long white gloves after a long night of crooning in a swanky Las Vegas lounge bar. Transformation sequences are hard to pull off on any budget but somehow director Michal Dougherty managed to make his little indie movie look like a multi-million dollar monster movie and it’s worth getting your face eaten just to see it.
9. Good Manners (2017)
Not every werewolf movie has to be a scary thrill ride. Good Manners (As Boas Maneiras) is a departure from your conventional werewolf story, opting instead for a more emotionally resonant story about feeling like an outsider in a society that doesn’t want you. The film also features a fantastical eye that perfectly captures the beauty of São Paulo in this grim fairy tale come to life.
Splint down the middle, Good Manners begins as a mysterious, tantalizing story about a woman suffering through a bizarre pregnancy. But a sudden time jump and a dramatic shift in narrative reveals a surprisingly heart-wrenching tale of a young boy and his mother struggling to find peace in a cold and unforgiving world.
8. Silver Bullet (1985)
Did you know that Stephen King wrote a werewolf story? Cause he did and it’s one hell of a wild ride. Silver Bullet can be an acquired taste, but if your taste profile happens to include an appreciation for mid-80s Gary Busey, Corey Haim confined to a land speed record-setting wheelchair, and an 8-foot furry beast eating up all the sad folk in town, then Silver Bullet is exactly what you’re looking for.
It’s not too often that we get a good whodunit wrapped up in a werewolf movie but when we do, it’s pure magic (See: Werewolves Within or The Beast Must Die). And there really is no better way to rachet up the tension in your horror flick than making it as hard as possible for your lead to escape. Granted, I don’t think I’d be able to outrun a werewolf if I really had to do, but I’m sure its 100x scarier trying to find a safe place to hide when you are paralyzed. And yet, this dang werewolf ain’t no match for paraplegic, pre-teen Corey Haim.
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7. The Howling (1981)
Released the same year as An American Werewolf in London, Joe Dante’s The Howling is another celebrated classic that belongs on every werewolf movie list. It’s funny, it’s freaky, it’s everything you’re looking for in a Friday night flick. Dee Wallace is an all-timer, delivering a surprisingly emotional performance in movie-filled satirical takes on the cult nature of self-help groups and werewolves presented as serial killers.
What was that? You wanted to know if the transformation sequences are rad? They are! And it’s really no surprise when you learn that these big bad boys were created by special effects pioneer Rob Bottin, who would go on to create the terrifyingly squirmy creatures of John Carpenter’s The Thing. Funny Story: the transformation sequence went over so well with test audiences that the studio and producers forbid Joe Dante from cutting a single second of it from the final film. Admittedly, it is a little long but it gives you plenty of time to take in all the wonderful work from one of horror’s greatest special effects creators.
6. Teen Wolf (1985)
Puberty can be tough. Your body is doing a bunch of stuff it never did before, your mood seems to change on a dime, and you begin growing hair all over your body! And that’s not just if you’ve realized your family is full of werewolves. All that junk happens to everyone, but thankfully most of us don’t also have to worry about turning in a fanged toothed monster, terrorizing the town.
If you’ve ever wanted to see a werewolf play basketball, or drink beer, or ride a VW bus like a surfboard, Teen Wolf is the movie for you. Despite a few gags not aging well, Teen Wolf is the perfect party movie and a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Did I mention that this teen wolf cuts a rug at prom?? Cause this teen wolf dances up a storm in a white tuxedo, with a fully blown-out hairdo that makes your 1980s glamour shots look like poorly developed polaroids.
5. Ginger Snaps (2000)
Keeping with our “puberty is a monster” theme, not enough good can be said about Canadian indie horror gem Ginger Snaps. Not only is it a great werewolf movie, but it’s also a brilliantly macabre depiction of what it’s like to deal with losing control of what your body is and how other people view it.
Filtered through the experiences of goth sisters Bridgette & Ginger, Ginger Snaps is an on-point representation of what it feels like to be a girl becoming a woman- not that I’m an authority on the matter but I have discussed this movie at length with Nightmare on Film Street co-founder Kimberley Elizabeth who assures me that it was very hard for her and her middle school friends to get used to their newfound werewolf powers. She tells me the bad boys tasted the best.
4. Underworld (2003)
It’s cool and all and that they still teach William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet in high school but wouldn’t it have those dry lessons been easier to follow if the Montagues were Werewolves and the Capulets were vampires? Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce Underworld, the only Romeo and Juliet story you will ever need.
Now, I know that star-crossed lovers don’t exactly spell “mandatory viewing” for most horror fans (myself included) but, thankfully, Underworld features some of the coolest werewolf transformations ever put on screen and some truly imaginative special effects. And who doesn’t like to see an underdog story with some 7-foot-tall doggos looking to tear out the throats of their rival vampire gang?!
3. The Monster Squad (1987)
There just ain’t no party like a monster mash party. One Universal Monster in a movie? Brilliant. Multiple Universal Monsters in a movie? Perfection. It’s a tragedy that Fred Dekker’s The Monster Squad (co-written by Shane Black) lived as an unrecognized classic for so long because it is truly one of the best monster movies the world has ever been gifted. And that’s thanks, in large part, to a gold-standard Lycanthrope.
The werewolf at the center of The Monster Squad is your classic tortured soul. He knows he’s a monster but he doesn’t want to be one. He even shows up at the local police station begging to be locked up for the safety of everyone in town, but no one is able to provide the help he needs. More than that, he can’t be killed by anything other than a silver bullet. Yeah, yeah, yeah- you’ve that one before. But The Monster Squad takes that bit of the werewolf mythos one step further. Not even dynamite can stop this big bad wolf! Again, wolfy has to share the spotlight but he’s the shining star of this monster-iffic hidden gem.
2. An American Werewolf in London (1981)
If you are about to watch your first wereolf movie, An American Werewolf in London is a great place to start. If only to find out why people are always saying “stay off the moors!“. An American Werewolf in London is not the be-all-end-all of werewolf movies but it did change the subgenre forever. John Landis reinvigorated the genre with his unique take on the classic tale, and the techniques invented by special effects master Rob Baker for the film’s werewolf transformation were so impressive they earned him an Academy Award.
As is the case with most of the movies on this list, An American Werewolf in London is ultimately a tragic story, but what makes this story so rewatchable for me is in how it handles the werewolf curse (not to mention one of the most shocking jump scares ever committed to film). Rather than be doomed to see who he will kill next, David (Dabid Naughton) is haunted by his victims. When he’s not prowling the streets looking for his next meal, he’s tormented by the decaying spirits of everyone he’s mauled.
1. The Wolf Man (1941)
The werewolf movie that started it all! It’s almost expected of you to put a classic like The Wolf Man on your werewolf movie list but trust me when I say that it’s not just here because I’m being polite. The Wolf Man may be one of the first werewolf stories we saw on screen but I’ll be damned if it isn’t the best. This Universal Monsters classic may look a little dated to the modern movie fan, but it’s shot in stunning black & white and introduced us all to the werewolf rules that films still follow today. Man meets wolf. Man gets bitten by wolf. Man turns into wolf, and tries desperately not to eat the people he loves most.
More than that though, The Wolf Man solidifies the werewolf as a tragic figure. Screenwriter Curt Siodmak’s story has been analyzed for decades and there’s no denying his experiences in Nazi-occupied Germany helped shape what would become one of the greatest horror stories of all time. As the cursed slowly discover and as Siodmak learned for himself, the real horror of the werewolf story is in watching your control and humanity be taken away from you.
ADS ARE SCARY
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Honorable Mention: What We Do In The Shadows (2016)
Yes, What We Do In The Shadows is a vampire movie, but some of its funniest scenes are spent with the werewolves of New Zealand. And who doesn’t love a good werewolf pack? These furry folks are usually on their own, lone wolfing through the city streets, looking for a helpless person to eat.
When we meet the werewolves of What We Do In The Shadows they are preparing for a safe night under the full moon, securing themselves to trees so they don’t mistakenly eat someone. These werewolves are trying their best to live a decent life under the lycanthrope curse, treating their werewolfism more like an addiction that can be maintained and controlled. Just because they happen to be werewolves, doesn’t mean they have to be monsters. Remember: Werewolves, not Swearwolves.
What is your favourite werewolf movie? What are you watching tonight to celebrate the Hunter’s Moon this evening? Share your picks with us over on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #31DayHorrorChallenge, and in the official Nightmare on Film Street Discord. Not a social media fan? Get more horror delivered straight to your inbox by joining the Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter.