It’s Halloween and time to think about trick-or-treating, costumes and scary movies.
What better way to cuddle up on Halloween and watch a scary movie with your pet? In honour of your furry friend, we have gathered a couple of our favourite werewolf movies together for your enjoyment.
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)
Director: Roy William Neill
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man is the direct sequel to Universal’s iconic 1941 The Wolf Man starring Lon Chaney Jr. as well as Ghosts of Frankenstein. While it’s certainly not the finest entry in the Universal horror catalog, it’s notable for Larry Talbot’s resurrection, and an amazing performance by Chaney as Talbot looks for a way to end his tortured existence.
If the plight of those cursed with lycanthropy isn’t obvious enough to you, look at it this way: Larry Talbot was quite happy to consult with Doctor Ludwig Fucking Frankenstein just so he could die in peace. Bela Lugosi in the Frankenstein monster makeup completes the utterly bonkers picture.
The Wolfman (2010)
Director: Joe Johnston
Despite getting a hard time from critics, Joe Johnston’s Wolfman , a remake of the classic Wolf Man film from 1941 starring Lon Chaney Jr. deserves a second look. While guilty of some bizarre performances from Benicio del Toro and Anthony Hopkins, the film does boast some terrific Universal-style atmosphere, and some great old-school Rick Baker werewolf make-up.
Those long shadows, run-down castles full of cobwebs, and moonlit forests, Universal hallmarks and homages to be sure, got enough blood, spatter, and decapitations added to the mix to make it well worth the watch.
Director: Mike Nichols
This is one of those slow build-up movies, where the unfortunate lycanthrope starts off by exhibiting some relatively minor changes before the full-on change happens, and in the meantime, we get some subtle make-up put on display.
Lycanthropy as a puberty metaphor is as common as dirt, but lycanthropy as a midlife crisis metaphor? We can forgive the ending simply because it’s great to have our suspicions confirmed and to see Jack Nicholson drop the facade that he’s a mere mortal and just become the werewolf we’ve all known that he is for years.
The Company of Wolves (1984)
Director: Neil Jordan
Neil Jordan’s second film is an eerie, surprisingly gory take on the Little Red Riding Hood story. Bonus points for the inclusion of the 1989 Batman production designer Anton Furst and his foggy, claustrophobic fairy tale forest.
Based on Angela Carter’s short story, The Company of Wolves is fraught with symbolism but doesn’t skimp on the skin-shedding body horror when it’s time to make the switch from human to wolf.
Ginger Snaps (2000)
Director: John Fawcett
Filmed in Toronto with some serious Canadian talent, Ginger Snaps gives viewers the slow turn that lasts throughout the movie, interspersing the scares and body horror with the occasional surreal chuckle. Strong performances by Katharine Isabelle as the titular Ginger and Emily Perkins as her sister help to elevate what might otherwise have been a more conventional horror flick. A traditionally tragic werewolf movie ending completes the picture, and Ginger Snaps holds up extraordinarily well under repeated viewings.
Werewolf of London (1935)
Director: Stuart Walker
It took a little longer for Hollywood to catch on to the appeal of werewolves, and despite successful Dracula and Frankenstein films from Universal in 1931, Werewolf of London didn’t get produced until 1935.
When folks think about the classic monster movies, they inevitably think of Lugosi’s Dracula, Karloff’s Frankenstein, and Chaney’s Wolf Man as three of the best. Featuring make-up by Jack Pierce, Hull’s werewolf boasts a Tibetan origin, a massive underbite, and a progressively more beastly transformation throughout the film.
The Howling (1981)
Director: Joe Dante
Joe Dante’s hip, self-aware adaptation of Gary Brandner’s novel is about as much fun as you’re likely to have on any given full moon. The Howling ultimately delivers even more via Pino Donaggio’s note-perfect classic horror movie score and Rob Bottin’s impressive pre-CGI make-up effects.
The Howling may be a product of its cultural moment with its digs at new age, post-hippie California culture, but it’s also a love letter to the werewolf movies of the past and a fine horror film in its own right.
The Wolf Man (1941)
Director: George Waggner
The Wolf Man, despite a rather glacial pace at the outset, owes it all to Lon Chaney Jr and Claude Raines’ sympathetic performances, Jack Pierce’s iconic makeup, and the incredible score, which is one of the best you’ll find in monster movies. For a film that doesn’t feature a single on-camera man-to-wolf transformation, The Wolf Man is still the template by which most others are judged.
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Director: John Landis
There are plenty of individual elements that make An American Werewolf in London the indispensable werewolf movie. The fantastic retro rock n’ roll soundtrack of songs about the moon, the “traditional” horror movie elements, the Universal atmosphere during the opening sequence (that it subverts with humor), and the smart, lively script.
But when it comes right down to it, we can boil this all down to one scene. Thanks to the Oscar-winning makeup effects by the legendary Rick Baker, David’s first complete transformation into a beast is done completely on-camera, with every agonizing moment, from head to toe set to the soothing sounds of Sam Cooke. It has to be seen to be believed.