The topic of werewolves is so deeply ingrained in pop culture that it’s impossible not to know what they are. Even before movies became a thing, novels and scary tales took on the subject and explored the idea of lycanthropy. The idea of mere humans turning into terrifying humanoid wolves during a full moon is both scary and endlessly entertaining, so it’s no wonder that werewolf movies are very popular.
Despite the fact that the genre is so famous, you’d be surprised by how hard it is to find a werewolf movie that is actually good. The trope is abused by filmmakers who create cheap slash flicks that don’t scare or engage anyone. Browsing popular video-on-demand services for a werewolf movie might often end in disappointment for you.
We know that you probably don’t have the time to try out all sorts of different films at random. It’s too easy to waste your precious time on something only to find out halfway through that it’s really not your thing. This is why, to make it easier for you, we’ve sat through a number of werewolf flicks and reviewed them all.
Are you in the mood for some of the best werewolf movies ever made? We’ve got you covered. Read on to learn all about our favorite picks.
9 Best Werewolf Movies Ever Made
While there are some werewolf movies out there, there are less than you’d think. It’s even harder to find good ones. Below, we will review some of the best werewolf movies right now.
This is a 2002 movie, written and directed by Neil Marshall. It stars Kevin McKidd, Sean Pertwee, Liam Cunningham, Emma Cleasby, Darren Morfitt, and Leslie Simpson. It’s often referred to as one of the best werewolf movies ever.
While no longer one of the latest, it remains one of the greatest in the werewolf movie genre. This was a film debut for Marshall, but you’d never be able to guess, as he leads the cast with an expert hand to create an action-packed flick.
Movies with werewolves have a few important beats to meet. One of the most important aspects are, obviously, the Lycans themselves. This is where many of these werewolf movies tend to fall short, but not Dog Soldiers. Despite not having the budget that blockbusters do, and of course, the access to 2020 special effects, Dog Soldiers manage to make you gasp in awe at the realism of it all. The werewolves, portrayed by professional dancers, have elegant movements that could never possibly be replicated by pure CGI. They terrify and repulse you, but also keep you so engaged that you can’t even move away from the TV screen.
The plot of this werewolf film sees a band of soldiers as they have to face down the bloody beasts in the highlands of Scotland. You’ll see the action begin as the characters become trapped and slowly, one by one, succumb to their horrible fates as they turn into werewolves. As their numbers dwindle, you are left at the edge of your seat, waiting to find out who can win in this impossibly unfair war.
If you’re in the mood for an R-rated horror flick, with realistic monsters, a strong cast, and a natural-talent of a director, check out Dog Soldiers.
An American Werewolf in London
If you don’t mind watching an absolute classic from nearly forty years ago, An American Werewolf in London (1981) is often cited as one of the best werewolf movies EVER. Written and directed by John Landis, this movie is sure to take you back to the origins of the werewolf movie genre.
This film stars David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, and Griffin Dune in the main cast. They are supported by Joe Belcher, John Woodvine, Frank Oz (the iconic man behind the character of Yoda from Star Wars), and Paul Kember.
Being an older movie, you can’t expect to see the kind of CGI werewolves in this as you’d see now in any commercial or music video, much less a feature-length movie. However, these old effects sure have their charm, and in this particular title, they are well-made. Oscar-winning, in fact! The legendary Rick Baker received an Oscar for the special effects work in this werewolf film.
The storyline concentrates on two young Americans, David and Jack, who are on a backpacking trip in England. Very early on, you and the other viewers are put to the test as you see Jack get mauled to death by a werewolf, while David lives, but also becomes infected with the wolf gene himself.
You’d imagine that would be the last of Jack, but no. Jack returns as undead and the story continues, exploring both themes of horror and comedy in equal measure. For something gruesome and endlessly entertaining, definitely check this one out.
Underworld is possibly one of the best werewolf movies & werewolves movies series ever made. It’s responsible for the renaissance of the genre that started in the early 2000s and continues to this day. Other than Kate Beckinsale’s amazing portrayal of the main character, Selene, Underworld has a very strong plot and great special effects. It should come as no surprise that the first 2003 movie managed to spawn four sequels, and it might not even be over just yet.
The original Underworld film was directed by Len Wiseman and written by Danny McBride. Fronted by the aforementioned Kate Beckinsale, the cast also includes Scott Speedman, Michael Sheen, Shane Brolly, Erwin Leder, and Bill Nighy. It certainly has some shining stars, and that shows through the surprisingly strong acting for an action flick.
As this is a newer film, the use of CGI is prominent in the creation of the wolves. The looks might seem outdated in the OG Underworld, but they get progressively better as you watch the sequels. A werewolf in movies has to look natural, and even the 2003 version doesn’t fail at that, presenting some of the best use of CGI for its time.
The main character in Underworld is not actually a werewolf. Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is a Death Dealer (essentially a vampire) whose mission in life is to destroy the Lycans (werewolves) who supposedly killed her family. As she embarks on her journey, she learns more not just about her mortal enemies, but also about the family she thought she could trust.
The Wolf Man
Not to be confused with the 2010 film of a similar name (The Wolfman), this 1941 flick is most likely THE werewolf movie. The inspiration behind everything that followed and the classic that you should definitely watch.
This film is old, very old. Directed by George Waggner and written by Curt Siodmak, it has a legendary cast. Led by Lon Chaney Jr., The Wolf Man also starred Claude Rains, Ralph Bellamy, Warren William, Bela Lugosi, Maria Ouspenskaya, and Evelyn Ankers.
Back in 1941, special effects were all the result of the hard work of many people working for a long time. The transformation from man to the werewolf that we see on screen lasts but a few seconds, but it took hours to recreate on set. The monster may almost look funny for today’s standards, but this best level of special effects had not been topped for years after the creation of The Wolf Man.
The score adds to the suspense and surprisingly daring grotesque of this highly engaging film. What is the story about? The plot follows Lary Talbot as he returns to his ancestral home in Wales after his brother dies. Larry begins to build his life at the good old home, but an unfortunate encounter with a werewolf leaves him forever changed.
This film has everything you need in the best werewolf movies: blood, sweat, tears, and unexpected twists and turns. If you haven’t seen it, you’re missing out.
The Company of Wolves
If you combine Neil Jordan’s love for vampires with the absolute werewolf classic of The Wolf Man, you’d likely get something like The Company of Wolves. This werewolf film, made in 1984, hits a lot of the beats you’d expect to see in a monster film.
Classified as British gothic fantasy horror, it was directed by Neil Jordan and supported by a cast of Sarah Patterson, Angela Lansbury, Stephen Rea, and David Warner. Based on the iconic werewolf story by Angela Carter, it explores all the best features of the genre of werewolf movies.
As opposed to being a classic, often rehashed sci-fi, this film can be referred to as dark sci-fi. The different genre allows for more creative freedom when it comes to special effects, costumes, and even the story.
The images you’ll see in this film will be engaging and they will capture your interest all throughout the length of the flick. The transformation scene, where The Huntsman turns into a werewolf, is something out of this world — the wolf is birthed as opposed to transformed into. This is going to make you cringe and cover your eyes, but also in a good way.
The story is a modern retelling of Red Riding Hood that has it all: blood, loss, tears, and lust as the main character (Rosaleen) battles her own desire for the terrifying monster. Despite having some shortcomings, some people still call this one of the best werewolf movies they’ve ever seen.
Spurred by Underworld, the mid & the late 00s saw a drastic rise in the creation of werewolf movies. Let’s not lie — Twilight played a part in that too, but more on that later. Regardless, the surge in popularity brought us The Wolfman, one of the latest & best werewolf movies out there.
Directed by Joe Johnston, it features an incredible cast of amazing stars: Benicio del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, and Hugo Weaving. For a movie with such an ensemble of talent, it deserved way more credit than it got.
This is a direct remake of the 1941 classic called The Wolf Man. If you’re not quite into old cinema, you might have more luck watching this much more polished retelling. This is a blockbuster that had a much higher budget, which allows it to reach new heights in the werewolf genre.
The plan for The Wolfman was to utilize Rick Baker’s outstanding experience. The transformations were meant to be organic and not CGI-based. However, due to scheduling issues, The Wolfman does rely on CGI heavily. You’ll probably love the upgrade in special effects in comparison to the 1941 classic.
This is a worthwhile remake of The Wolf Man that, despite bombing at the box office, earned Rick Baker and Dave Elsey an Academy Award for Best Makeup. It’s a must-see for any fan of the movies werewolf genre.
This is a monster movie that takes terror to the next level. Less of a pulp action flick and more of a horror, The Howling is a staple for all lovers of the best werewolf movies that are scary.
Directed by Joe Dante, it stars Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, Dennis Dugan, and Robert Picardo. It was based on a novel by Gary Bradner. It’s a fantastic film that delivers a fresh look at many of the standard tropes in werewolf films. However, due to the fact that it was released in the same year as An American Werewolf in London, it did not receive the credit it most definitely deserved during its time.
Full of terror, this film also doesn’t fail to deliver when it comes to being humorous. You will shift between laughing and shivering from fear, and both of those are done well. However, as it’s also 2020, you may find yourself cringing at the low budget special effects that cannot match An American Werewolf.
The story follows a TV news anchor, Karen White, who suffers from recurring nightmares after a traumatizing encounter with a serial killer. Hoping to find relief, she heads to a retreat that is meant to help her. Instead, she lands smack dab in the middle of a werewolf cult.
Don’t shake your head. For all its faults, Twilight IS one of the modern classics when it comes to the best werewolf movies. This is largely due to the fact that the genre remains underserved, but you can’t deny the success of this vampire vs werewolf mega-hit film.
Based on the saga by Stephenie Meyer, Twilight is more of a film for teenagers — a love story set in modern times and laced with fantasy. Starring Robert Pattinson, Kirsten Stewart, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, and many more, this is a series of werewolf movies. There is a total of five Twilight films, and each one delves deep into the lore of werewolves.
As far as CGI effects go, the transformations of humans into wolves are really well done here. While Twilight falls short on some things (such as the terrifying baby in Breaking Dawn Part II), it succeeds in creating lifelike werewolves and stunning transformations.
The story follows teenage Bella Swan as she moves to live with her dad in a small, remote town of Forks. She ends up falling for the immortal vampire Edward, a representative of the Cullen clan. The Cullens are enemies of the local werewolves, one of whom is Bella’s best friend Jacob Black.
Twilight definitely had the potential to revive the whole werewolf film genre. It certainly brought interest to it to a whole new generation. However, it remains a poorly written love story, and the monster always plays second fiddle to the teenage love triangle you see on the screen most of the time.
Ginger Snaps, much like Twilight, is a story about teenagers. However, the story here is richer with lore and more focused on the fantasy aspect as opposed to the romance. Don’t be fooled, though — this is one of the best werewolf movies, sure, but in the “teenagers” sub-genre. Laced with angst, a bit of gore, and following a female protagonist, Ginger Snaps offers a different take on monster films.
Ginger Snaps was directed by John Fawcett. It spawned a whole series of movies, although none were as successful as the first. The original installment stars Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabelle in the lead roles.
This movie is not very heavy on the gore/grotesque aspect. Instead, it used highly effective, short shots that give you the full image without spoiling it for you by overstaying their welcome. The costumes are also beautiful and the make-up is surprisingly good.
The movie focuses on two angsty teenage sisters who have an unhealthy fascination with death. Their interest takes them down a dark path that doesn’t allow for any way back.
Frequently Asked Questions
Got any burning questions about the best werewolf movies out there? Curious about where the monster comes from? We’re here to answer them for you!
What was the first feature-length werewolf movie?
It might be hard to pinpoint, but the first and most well-known werewolf movie is almost certainly Werewolf of London. Released back in 1935, this is a horror film that was directed by Stuart Walker. Henry Hull plays the leading character of the werewolf.
While this movie did not achieve the success of The Wolf Man, it still started a whole revolution in the Hollywood film industry. It’s the first feature-length werewolf movie to be made in Hollywood by Universal Pictures.
Who played the original werewolf?
When you ask about the original werewolf, you can only be talking about Lon Chaney Jr. who played in the title role in The Wolf Man. The name itself suggests that a werewolf would be some sort of a wolverine/lupine type of character. However, it’s safe to say that most, if not all, depictions of werewolves to date were inspired by Lon Chaney Jr’s portrayal of the werewolf in the 1941 classic hit.
What was the first werewolf movie?
You may be surprised to find that the first werewolf movie dates back to the times of silent cinema. Back in 1913, a silent short film by the name of The Werewolf was released, starting a genre that lives on to this day.
The Werewolf (1913) was directed by Henry MacRae. It was based on the 1898 story “The Werewolves” by Henry Beaugrand. The story follows Kee-On-Ee, a Navajo woman, who mistakenly believes that her husband had abandoned her. She becomes a witch who then passes on her skills to her daughter Watuma. Watuma transforms into a wolf to find vengeance on the white settlers who are destroying their village.
The Werewolf is considered to be a lost film and cannot be seen anywhere, as all copies burned in a fire in 1924.
The best werewolf movies are hard to find but worth looking for. There are many hidden gems that are waiting amongst the pile of uninspired, rehashed flicks. Keep in mind that, although werewolves are a very popular trend, there aren’t too many blockbuster movies centered around them. This means that, when searching for werewolf movies, you will have to keep an open mind.
If you’re willing to try out some of the absolute classics and you don’t mind non-lifelike special effects, you’ve got a whole world of amazing werewolf movies waiting for you. Check out our recommendations and enjoy the spooks!