Werewolves have been a part of popular literature for hundreds of years and have held a place in film history for decades. There is something fascinating about the possibility of a human turning into a ghastly, hairy monster during a full moon. Here is a list of five howling good movies about lycanthropes, in no particular order.
“The Wolf Man” (1941)
Lon Chaney Jr. stars in the role of Lawrence Talbot in this classic horror movie. After spending almost two decades in the United States, Lawrence (Larry) returns to his family’s rural estate following his brother’s tragic death in a hunting accident. Larry and his father, Sir John Talbot, begin repairing their strained relationship. Larry also begins to fall for the daughter of a local antiques dealer, Gwen. One evening Gwen, Larry, and Gwen’s friend Jenny go to a gypsy camp to have their fortunes told when Larry is bitten by a werewolf while trying to save Jenny from the monster. This causes Larry to become infected with the curse of the werewolf, and so the struggle begins.
“An American Werewolf in London” (1981)
Directed by John Landis, this is one of the finest werewolf movies to have been filmed in recent decades. The movie is noted for its then groundbreaking make-up effects during the werewolf transformations as well as for having the unusual mix of horror and humor. The film begins with two Americans, David and Jack, who are backpacking in the English country. They stop at a tavern where they’re met with disdain from the locals and leave with a warning to follow the road and keep out of the moors. Of course they go into the moors where they are attacked by a werewolf. Jack is killed but David lives, only to start having horrific nightmares. Jack appears to him to tell him that on the next full moon he will become a werewolf.
Silver Bullet (1985)
This movie was based on a Steven King novella and the screenplay was actually written by King. Silver Bullet takes place in a small town under siege from a murderous werewolf. The story centers around a paralyzed boy, played by Corey Haim, his sister who is largely in charge of his care, and their alcoholic uncle (played by Gary Busey). No one in Tarker’s Hill, Maine knows who the werewolf is, which adds to the suspense.
The Howling (1981)
Karen White, a news reporter, is left traumatized after a horrific and perverse encounter with a serial killer. Her therapist suggests that she spend some time relaxing in a retreat called “The Colony,” but relaxation is the last thing she finds there. The other inhabitants at the colony are bizarre and seem to stalk around the woods at night. The terror builds as the mystery as to what these other “people” who live in the colony are: werewolves.
Ginger Snaps (2001)
This film is not only about werewolves, but about adolescense and the changes a girl goes through during puberty. Outcast sisters Ginger and Brigitte are teenagers obsessed with death, staging realistic death scenes to photograph in their spare time. Their morbid inclinations cause them to be ostracized at school, so they spend most of their time together. After Ginger is attacked by a dog-like creature one night, she begins to go through changes and the sisters begin to grow apart. When Brigitte realizes that her sister is becoming a werewolf, she has to find a way to try to save herself and/or Ginger.