The werewolf sub-genre has always been a sketchy niche; for every quality lycanthropic picture to hit the public market, there are a dozen shoddy films drenched in embarrasng special effects, perched atop scripts too shaky to support a ngle butterfly.
It’s actually rather interesting to note how many werewolf films fail to leave a lasting impreson. We’ve been familiar with the ideology for too many decades too count, and the sub-genre certainly had some strong showings in the 1940’s. So, given the technological advancements we’ve seen over the last 60 plus years, why is it that filmmakers fumble with the hairy beasts so often?
Honestly, I have no answer to offer you.
There are plenty of extremely capable actors in the field, as well as a multitude of finely refined effects practitioners. As I’ve already noted, technology has reached a high enough standard to produce any imagery too complex for practical execution, and there is certainly no shortage of talented screenwriters in the buness. Condering these facts, I’m left to ponder the reason behind filmmakers’ continuously botched werewolf offerings.
While this little mystery rivals the trivia surrounding the Bermuda Triangle, genre fans are left with little to do, other than celebrate the few fine werewolf features already in existence.
Here now is a look at 10 of the best werewolf features available today!
10. The Werewolf (1956): This film didn’t receive the warm welcome that such clascs as The Wolf Man or Werewolf of London did, but it’s arguably superior, if not at least the equal to each. A fantastic pace and unique approach to the origin of the werewolf set this one apart from most.
Rather than being attacked by a random wolf in the middle of a fog covered forest, our poor unsuspecting victim is actually injected with an experimental drug that transforms him from your average man, to your savage beast. It’s a fun approach that bends your typical cliché werewolf rules. It’s just unfortunate that more filmmakers don’t attempt to think this far out of the box more often.
08. Wolf (1994): The critical embrace this modernized reboot earned wasn’t unanimously potive, to put it kindly. Many pundits panned the film, citing pacing problems and plot holes as the film’s key weak points. To a certain extent, I agree, but there are some strength’s to the picture that help negate the obvious deficiencies.
The biggest reward Wolf has to offer is an absolutely superb climax that pits Jack Nicholson’s character Will Randall against rival Stewart Swinton (portrayed by James Spader). These two collide in animalistic fashion to shut the feature down, and I’ll be damned if the final showdown doesn’t wreak of throwback Universal action.
06. The Howling (1981): I can hear the complaints of this placement already; plenty will argue The Howling deserves a higher potion on this list, but I disagree. The film is a lot of fun, and has a terrific cast that includes legendary genre contributor Dee Wallace, and her late husband Christopher Stone, but in all honesty, John Sayles’ screenplay feels absurdly sloppy. I’ve never read Gary Brandner’s novel, but I imagine it’s a far superior story.
Hate on this call all you want, but The Howling, as enjoyable as it is, has always been a bit overrated.
04. The Wolf Man (1941): I’m certain the pedant’s will cry a river after seeing The Wolf Man place fourth on this list, but, ade from the nostalgic value attached to the film, it’s a bit on the dull de.
Curt odmak’s screenplay is primarily drama driven, and while it’s mesmerizing to watch Lon Chaney Jr. juggle an array of emotions, and a lot of fun to see the iconic effects maestro Jack Pierce work his trantion magic, the film as a whole is slightly boring.
Often viewed as the perennial “best werewolf film made”, The Wolf Man has been outdone, but not by many.
02. Dog Soldiers (2002): Neil Marshall’s first feature length horror picture is an absolute homerun. Sadly, due to Marshall’s limited résumé, too many have missed this unique take on werewolves.
There’s nothing insanely profound about soldiers running into vicious man eating monsters in the wilderness, yet for some reason, prior to Dog Soldiers, it’s never really been done effectively. It’s tough to find a glaring hole in this picture, and there are too many strength’s to list in such a condensed piece; I’ll mply say this: do not miss Dog Soldiershttp://youtu.be/OmwT4k9Drco
01. An American Werewolf in London (1981): John Landis has been contributing to the genre for a full 30 years. Make no mistake though: it’s his first serious venture into the genre, An American Werewolf in London that still defines his career (believe me, that's no insult).
This tale of victimized American’s traveling in rural London is damn near flawless. In fact, the film is so air-tight it’s tough to plot a point to begin praise. The special effects still hold up today, the details of the story are well thought out and delivered with serious precion, David Naughton is priceless as David Kessler, who somehow depicts humor, excitement and manic behavior without stretching the core of his characters personality, and, to top it off, there’s more replay value to this particular film than the vast majority of genre flicks.
An American Werewolf in London will never be forgotten, and may very well never be surpassed as the greatest werewolf film in history.