Goregirl’s Werewolf Project: TOP TEN FAVOURITE WEREWOLF FILMS!
This is it! Drum roll please…my top ten favourite werewolf films! I realized when I started this project that I had not seen as many werewolf films as I thought. I watched a lot of werewolf films over the last few months. Many were first viewings, others were re-watches. Besides the top ten and the seventeen films I posted reviews for, I watched another six Howling sequels (I reviewed Howling V) and there were another three films I didn’t get reviews done for. The three films were: Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001), Kibakichi Bakko-yokaiden (2004) and Werewolf in a Women’s Prison (2006). Brotherhood of the Wolf is an action film, not horror. It is a period piece with over-the-top matrix-esque like fight scenes, with a decent story and acting. It is an enjoyable film, but as mentioned, it is not a horror film (and it isn’t exactly a werewolf film either). Kibakichi is a werewolf/samurai film! I love Kibakichi’s 60s samurai film vibe, but sadly, there was not nearly as much action as I was expecting. Granted, the action scenes they include are terrific! The story is rather on the dreary side but not unappealing. Kibakichi also leans heavier towards an action film than horror. Kibakichi left me a bit unsatisfied, but I did like it. Finally we have the super low budget Werewolf in a Women’s Prison. I really should have made the time to review this one! This is definitely horror, and it certainly delivers on its title. You get a werewolf in an all women’s prison with plenty of boobs, gore and general naughtiness! The effects are cheap and sometimes downright hokey and much of the acting is bad but there is plenty of fun here for those who like a more Troma type horror film. I liked Werewolf in a Women’s Prison and would give it a recommend. There were another twenty-six werewolf films that I had seen in the last few years that I remembered well enough to know they wouldn’t make the list; An American Werewolf in Paris, Wolf, Bad Moon and Skinwalkers to name a few. A total of 62 films isn’t a very deep pool to draw from! IMDB had 236 films listed with a “werewolf” tag; 183 of those were horror. Of those 183 werewolf horror films, several of those were not exclusively werewolf films. For instance, Cabin in the Woods, Monster Squad, Trick R Treat and House of Frankenstein; all four feature a werewolf but it is not the film’s focus. I disqualified at least half the list for this reason. And finally there was another smaller chunk of mainly post-1989 entries that just didn’t seem worth bothering with. I would like to give a howl out to my three favourite werewolf films that didn’t make the top ten: Curse of the Devil, Ginger Snaps: Unleashed and Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man! At the bottom of the top ten list are links to all seventeen werewolf films I reviewed this month.
#10 WEREWOLF WOMAN (1976)
Directed By: Rino Di Silvestro
I only read a few short IMDB reviews for Werewolf Woman that completely tore the film to shreds. Yeesh! Daniela Neseri was raped at the age of 13 and has become a lonely, troubled woman living in her father’s home in the country. Daniela finds some family heirlooms and learns of the strange history of a relative to whom she bares a striking resemblance. Turns out the relative was believed to be a werewolf and was chased down by a lynch mob and killed. Daniela begins having vivid dreams that she too is a werewolf and it isn’t long before she is ripping out throats. We are never led to believe Daniela is a werewolf; but Daniela wholeheartedly believes it! Daniela’s fevered dream of ritualistic naked dancing and the transformation which consists of covering her naked body with fun fur is something you are not likely to see twice. Two words for you…furry boobs. Lycanthropy, full frontal nudity, sex, masturbation, graphic violence, rape, revenge, furry boobs; Werewolf Woman has it all! Chocked full of Italian horror regulars including Dagmar Lassander, Tino Carraro, Howard Ross and a bold performance by Annik Borel as the title Werewolf Woman. Some questionably hilarious dialog (which may to some extent be a case of bad dubbing) would be my only complaint. Sure, Werewolf Woman is Euro-trash of the highest order, but that is what makes it so freaking awesome!
#9 WEREWOLF OF LONDON (1935)
Directed By: Stuart Walker
In Werewolf of London a botanist returns from a trip to Tibet with a rare flower and the ability to turn into a werewolf. The story is simple but wonderfully effective, taking more of a scientific approach to the werewolf myths than a supernatural one. The beautifully filmed black and white movie has amazing effects and great werewolf makeup; as good as anything I have seen in the classic horror! The wonderful Henry Hull is terrific as a man whose shaky marriage to a younger woman is further complicated by the appearance of her childhood friend, a stranger who is a little too curious about his rare flower, not to mention, he is a bloody werewolf! I could take or leave some of the characters they add for comic relief but it certainly did not hurt the film any. There are some impressively creative shots; one of the best is the werewolf transformation among the columns! And what an ending!! If you dig the classic horror, Werewolf of London is a definite must see!
#8 THE COMPANY OF WOLVES (1984)
Directed By: Neil Jordan
If you follow this blog, you might recall The Company of Wolves appeared on my top 10 favourite horror films from 1984. The Company of Wolves is a dreamy, surreal nightmare from the mind of a girl just about to enter into womanhood. The film is a collection of interesting and original short stories symbolizing sexual awakening, puberty, male domination, and the like. It is not exactly an anthology, it is more accurately stories told within a story. It is well written, well acted, and the effects are quite impressive and unique. There is a cornucopia of different visual variations of the werewolf! Some of them are surprisingly nasty too! While The Company of Wolves definitely has a fairy tale vibe and is loaded with sexuality and no actual sex it is nonetheless adult-friendly. Don’t let the appearance of Angela Lansbury scare you off. She plays granny (of course), but she does come with considerable bite. I also enjoyed Terence Stamp’s cameo as the devil! The pubescent female lead is perfectly played by Sarah Patterson. The Company of Wolves is a film I have re-watched a few times over the years, and it never fails to entertain me.
#7 DOG SOLDIERS (2002)
Directed By: Neil Marshall
Show them how it’s done Neil Marshall! Marshall’s two entries from the past decade The Descent and Dog Soldiers gave me renewed hope that the horror genre still had some life left in it. Why oh why has he not made another horror film? Absolutely every last detail of Dog Soldiers is near perfect. Dog Soldiers has a solid story, excellent cast, well-written and natural dialog, great setting, outstanding mood and atmosphere and beauty practical effects. There is plenty of blood and gore; the werewolves make short work of their prey leaving nothing behind but entrails and blood. That stuff can really stick to a boot! The werewolves are extremely impressive from a distance and cast an intimidating shadow. The only ever so minor complaint I have is that some of the close shots look slightly less than perfect. I absolutely love the fact that Marshall opted for costumes over CGI. Dog Soldiers is freaking awesome! To read the full review click here.
#6 THE HOWLING (1981)
Directed By: Joe Dante
Joe Dante loves furry beasts. Before he made Gremlins, he created a film with a different sort of furry beast; an R-rated furry beast! Dante’s The Howling is a balls to the wall, kick ass horror film with nudity, gore and some bad-ass nasty werewolf effects that have held up beautifully! The Howling has a strong story, solid acting and a pitch perfect mood and atmosphere with a nicely escalating tension. I have read the odd complaint about this movie starting out slow, but I actually found The Howling to be well-paced. When the film goes “werewolf” it does so with grand style, and as a bonus, you get more than one creature! I have always been a fan of The Howling, but on my recent re-watch I found myself enjoying this even more than I recalled. I enjoyed every aspect of The Howling, but even impatient viewers should be impressed by The Howling’s spectacular werewolf effects and its seriously ass-kicking finale.
#5 THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF (1961)
Directed By: Terence Fisher
If you know me, you know I love my Hammer films! If a Hammer werewolf film exists there is a good chance it would make my list. Surprise! Hammer does have a werewolf film in their catalogue helmed by one of Hammer’s best directors; Terence Fisher! The Curse of the Werewolf is lushly filmed, with stunning sets and costumes and a stirring mood thick with atmosphere. Its enthralling story and wonderfully unique spin on the werewolf origin, and an absolutely superb and empathetic performance from Oliver Reed is what landed it in the top ten. It is a shame to spoil the peculiar but original origins of the werewolf but they do adhere to most of the classic werewolf hokum. There is a love story, transformations by the full moon, and a compassionate and empathetic central character that is on par with my number two pick. The effects and makeup are awesome; I really love the light coloring for the werewolf. The Curse of the Werewolf is beautiful, mesmerizing and mysterious mayhem at its most masterful!
#4 THE NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF (1981)
Directed By: Paul Naschy
I adore Paul Naschy! Mr. Naschy has played a werewolf 11 times. Naschy does double duty as director and lead actor of The Night of the Werewolf; he totally rocks in both roles! It is not the first Paul Naschy film to open with Elizabeth Bathory and an execution, but it is the best one! The film moves to current day 1981 with a trio of attractive (duh) female college students who are seeking out the grave of Countess Elizabeth Bathory. This one serves up vampires with its werewolf; but the film’s focus is definitely the werewolf. Okay, I admit, I made somewhat of an exception here for Mr. Naschy. Naschy plays the Waldemar Daninsky character in most of his werewolf films. He is great as the strong and troubled Daninsky and he always puts everything he’s got into his werewolf performance. I loved the werewolf makeup and the transformations and there is plenty of blood spilled! The film looks great all around; cool sets, nifty props, groovy wardrobes, nudity, gore, vampires, and a freaking werewolf! What the hell is not to like? Paul Naschy and The Night of the Werewolf is wickedly sweet, hardcore howlingly good entertainment!
#3 GINGER SNAPS (2000)
Directed By: John Fawcett
If you have been following this project, you probably already guessed Ginger Snaps was going to make the list. I reviewed both Ginger Snaps sequels and went on and on about my love for the original; I actually referred to this film as an “epiphany”. That is some strong language for me to use when I am talking about a film from the past decade. Ginger Snaps is smart, well-written, has great effects and an absolutely brilliant performance from its two lead actresses; Katherine Isabel and Emily Perkins. The two women have the most amazing chemistry; you do not question their relationship or motivations for a second. Much credit does belong to the writers who create two of the most interesting and likable teenage characters to appear in a horror film in bloody eons. This is the second film on this list where sexual coming-of-age symbolism is used to great effect. Everything about Ginger Snaps is effective. Ginger Snaps is not only an amazing werewolf film, it is one of the best horror films to come out of the past decade.
#2 THE WOLF MAN (1941)
Directed By: George Waggner
When I started this blog it was my intention to discover more classics of the black and white variety. I’ve seen numerous titles since, and The Wolf Man, without a doubt, has been one of my personal favourites. Visually the film is flawless. Fog shrouded forests, gypsy caravans, beautiful massive estates, eerie crypts and a dark moody vibe full of mystery and horror. The entire cast are outstanding, but it is Lon Chaney Jr’s portrayal of the tragic Lawrence Talbot that stays with me. I love the simple but engrossing story which would pave the way for many a werewolf film that followed. I love the idea of werewolves; man’s struggle with the inner beast, human instinct and animal instinct colliding! It is a big part of what appeals to me about the sub-genre. Universal’s The Wolf Man captures this conflict so brilliantly. I’ve mentioned several times throughout this project that I prefer the half-man, half-wolf type werewolf and Chaney’s timeless portrait of the tortured Talbot and the solid creature makeup will forever be engraved into my heart. The Wolf Man is one of the most endearing horror films I’ve ever seen; an absolute classic!
#1 AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981)
Directed By: John Landis
There are a few movie going experiences one never forgets. One of those for me was An American Werewolf in London. It is the one and only time I snuck into a movie before I was old enough to get in. We missed the first 15 minutes and I was so freaked out I made myself nauseous and couldn’t eat my popcorn. But it was so worth it! The effects in An American Werewolf in London blew my mind back in the day! I’ve watched this film many times since and the effects still blow my mind! Without a doubt, it is one of the most visually arresting uses of practical effects to ever grace a horror flick. It is a fantastic looking film all around. The Wales countryside is a beautiful location that also offers an eerie and intimidating vastness. An American Werewolf in London has the perfect marriage of comedy and horror. The film has some great laughs but still manages some serious intensity. David Naughton and Griffin Dunne are the perfect duo and both deliver great performances. And bloody hell!! What an ending! An American Werewolf in London has long been a favourite horror film and will have a place on my top 100 list forever. I will love this movie until I die.
Films reviewed during this project: