For the month of October I will put out a list of Top 10’s on a number of subjects each day, this should be fun as I would enjoy feedback and discussion on my list and will welcome feedback on how to improve the list as I plan on featuring them on my website.
Top Werewolf Movies
An American Werewolf in London (1981) John Landis
David Naughton plays an American tourist who survives an attack on an English village only to learn he is afflicted by a curse that will turn him into a wolf. With the award-winning talents of Rick Baker, John Landis creates a frightening and on occasion funny werewolf movie. Griffen Dunne has a significant role as the ever-rotting friend of the werewolf-to-be in what has to be the coolest ghost on record. With its mix of classic horror, great FX, humor and some freaky dream sequences we have a fun and entertaining play on the traditional werewolf movie.
The Wolf Man (1941) George Waggner
One of the finest and best-remembered horror films ever made: Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr) is an unlucky heir bitten by gypsy werewolf Lugosi, and survives to carry the curse himself. The outstanding cast includes Claude Rains as the unknowing father, Evelyn Ankers as his perplexed girlfriend, but kudos go to Maria Ouspenskaya as the wise gypsy woman who foretells his fate and attempts to care for him. One of the last of the classic monsters to appear yet it is Chaney’s fantastic portrayal that leaves us with such a great monster classic. Literate and very engrossing, with superb makeup by the maestro Jack Pierce, atmospheric music (re-used in many other Universal chillers) by Charles Previn and Hans J. Salter. Script by Curt Siodmak.
Ginger Snaps (2000) John Fawcett
Teenager Ginger Fitzgerald faces the usual struggles of teenage girls only to add lycanthropy into the mix when she survives an attack by an unknown creature after going through puberty. She faces new challenges as she is more aggressive toward others, worrying her sister Brigette who fears Ginger may be a real werewolf after she snaps. Benefitting from the strong casting of Emily Perkins and Katherine Isabelle, Ginger Snaps takes the werewolf trope and adapts it into a teen film that is a biting satire on the struggles of teenage women. The movies faced controversy for being released after the events of Columbine Massacre but earned praise for the special effects and the two female leads.
The Howling (1981) Joe Dante
Dee Wallace Stone plays a TV reporter who is taking a leave after an encounter with a stalker. Along with her husband, the couple travel to a northern California retreat hosted by psychologist Patrick Macnee. What they don’t realize is that this club is full of really nutso werewolves. The wild assortment of visitors and patrons adds to the fun as we get a multitude of characters named for Classic Werewolf Film Directors. Joe Dante went for homage and humor in this FX ridden horror classic, along with the way we find many great supporting actors in some unique roles including John Sayles, Slim Pickens, Dick Miller and Robert Picardo. Horror fans will appreciate the cameos which include an appearance by Roger Corman and Forrest J Ackerman as a bookstore patron.
Dog Soldiers (2002) Neil Marshall
A squad of British army reservists finds themselves trapped in a small farmhouse and attacked by werewolves while they are on a weekend training retreat in Scottland. Despite their training and firepower, they find themselves stalked one at a time by the pack of wolves. Written and directed by Neil Marshall, Dog Soldiers dispenses with the usual soul-searching found in many werewolf films and just focuses on the fight for survival. Dog Soldiers stands out for its intense gore and the unusual werewolf design that is unlike most other recent werewolf films.
The Company of Wolves (1984) Neil Jordan
This werewolf film is a gory take on the Little Red Riding Hood story we all grew up with as children. A young lady dreams of an encounter with a mysterious fellow who wishes to accompany her to her grandmother's house, yet she does not heed her Grandmothers warning about strangers met in the woods. The film has a series of tales told within the story all involving werewolves spoken by the main character and grandmother. The transformation scenes stood out for the unique manner in how it occurs yet unlike other werewolf tales the blood and violence are contrasted by the beautiful settings and sets of the film capturing a fairy environment.
Curse of the Werewolf (1961) Terrence Fisher
An imprisoned beggar sires a child with a young Spanish woman who dies after childbirth bringing into the world a boy who is cursed. As an adult, his fate is set in motion when he pursues a woman out of his class only to learn that she may be able to temper his werewolf curse. The creature makeup is excellent evoking the style of Jack Pierces Wolf Man looks from 20 years prior. Despite the movies, slow pace and minimal werewolf activity, this effort by the Hammer studio is worth checking out to appreciate Oliver Reed's portrayal of the classic Werewolf in his first film role.
Wer (2013) William Brent Bell
A young attorney is brought in to defend a man accused of murdering a family in the woods and has to craft a defense despite evidence that he may be more dangerous than she expected. Wer is a recent offering in the Werewolf genre and has a unique approach in that the movie starts off as a courtroom drama then shifts into an all-out action fest employing found footage in a manner that helps with the films tonal shift. Despite its low budget, Wer is a welcome addition to a genre that could use some new blood.
Silver Bullet (1985) Daniel Attias
This Stephen King adaption of his novella Cycle of the Werewolf is coming of age tale told by the older sister of the main character Marty, who is crippled teen but eager to solve the brutal deaths occurring in his small town. Gary Busey almost steals the show as the troubled Uncle who builds a great motorcycle wheelchair for his nephew Marty and teams up reluctantly to help his niece and nephew confront the threat of the wolf.