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The 11 best werewolf movies of all time

From classics like The Wolf Man and Wolfen to horror movies like Dog Soldiers, here's the definitive list of the best werewolf movies.

Best werewolf movies: Ginger Snaps, Dog Soldiers and An American Werewolf in London

What are the best werewolf movies of all time? Be warned, there’s a full moon tonight, and that means there might be something inhuman stalking the streets. Luckily, there are plenty of options for you to spend the night in, safe on your couch instead.

Myths about werewolves stretch back hundreds of years, and cinema has been utilizing this rich history to create some of the best horror movies of all time. Be they gory monster movies, action-packed thrillers, or self-aware comedies, you just can’t keep a supernatural canine down. So, if you are ready to howl at your screens tonight, here is our list of the alphas in the werewolf movie pack.

Best werewolf movies: Dog Soldiers

11. Dog Soldiers (2002)

Perhaps the definitive werewolf movie of the century thus far. Dog Soldiers is a mean, bloody action movie about a group of British soldiers on a training exercise in Scotland that goes completely sideways.

After being cut down by some mysterious force in the Highlands, they seek refuge in a local cabin. But that just makes them easier prey. Neill Marshall’s directorial debut is positively gnarly, with the squadron having to claw their way to survival. Some wry humor makes it appropriately schlocky, perfect for any gore-hounds. Best werewolf movies: An American Werewolf in London

10. An American Werewolf in London (1981)

We all know this body horror movie by the incredible transformation scene, overseen by the legendary Rick Baker, who earned an Academy Award for his work. Besides the skin-wrenching effects, An American Werewolf in London is a finely-tuned horror-comedy by John Landis that offers some legit giggles among all the scares.

A pair of American backpackers in rural England, David and Jack, encounter a werewolf on their travels. After being scarred, David begins to undergo lycanthropic transformations, while Jack’s body starts to decay due to an overhanging curse. Their existence is fleeting, and their attempts for a solution lead to more and more bodies. Exactly what you’d expect from the guy who directed Schlock.

Best werewolf movies: Ginger Snaps

9. Ginger Snaps (2000)

A gothy take on werewolves that channels Heathers, Buffy, The Craft, and a healthy dose of grungy nihilism. Two inseparable horror-obsessed sisters Ginger and Brigitte, find their relationship strained when one starts becoming a werewolf right after her period starts.

The terrifying, life-altering changes mirror the throes of adolescence and puberty, all delivered with macabre sensibilities by director John Fawcett and writer Karen Walton in a way that mirrors Ginger and Brigitte’s own home movies. Tragic in its way, but self-aware and a star-making turn for Katharine Isabelle.

Best werewolf movies: The Wolf Man

8. The Wolf Man (1941)

Universal’s second lycanthropic monster proved to be the standard many others would follow. Lon Chaney Jnr is the forlorn man-beast who starts as Larry Talbot, a man who’s bitten by a wolf while visiting Wales.

Rapid healing and rabid night-time behavior prove the local legends of werewolves to be true, and it’s revealed he’s not the only one either. As atmospheric as the other iconic Universal Monsters entries, Chaney Jr. comfortably sits alongside the best movies of the time: Bela Lugosi’s Dracula and Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein. It’s not a competition, but this film may well be the bloodiest of the franchise.

Best werewolf movies: The Company of Wolves

7. The Company of Wolves (1984)

Neil Jordan’s sophomore feature has Angela Lansbury as an occasional narrator for a young girl, Rosaleen, who undergoes a layered fantasy full of wolves that stalk her. The overarching narrative begins with Rosaleen being killed in her sleep by rabid dogs and gradually evolves into a chilling, Kafkaesque fairytale.

The Company of Wolves was co-written by Jordan and Angela Carter, who created the short story on which it’s based. It’s an unscrupulous, distinctly ‘80s movie that really needs to be seen to be understood and makes for an excellent pairing to Jordan’s adaptation of Interview With A Vampire.

Best werewolf movies: Wolf Guy

6. Wolf Guy (1975)

Kazuhiko Yamaguchi had a string of pulpy thrillers in the ’70s typified by the Sister Street Fighter films, spin-offs from martial arts cult classic The Street Fighter. Among those was Wolf Man, a delightfully comic superhero movie about a man who essentially has all the physical prowess of a werewolf without the extra hair.

Descended from a clan of wolf-people, Akira Inugami wields his power to save a woman from crooks. It’s very much of the time, using the manga from Kazumasa Hirai to have the hero be completely over-the-top with star Shin’ichi Chiba. It’s not the easiest to track down, but a legitimate hidden gem.

Best werewolf movies: Wolfen

5. Wolfen (1981)

Somewhere between Predator and The Exorcist 3, and preceding both by several years, Wolfen is a picture that was considerably ahead of its time. NYPD detective Dewey Wilson is assigned some grisly deaths that defy all logic, eventually discovering these aren’t conventional wolf attacks.

Purists might argue Wolfen’s placement as a werewolf film, but its exploration of the spiritual connection between man and beast certainly has the feel and tenacity of a more conventional lycanthrope. As Woodstock documentarian Michael Wadleigh’s one-and-only directorial effort in fiction, it’s a trendsetter.

Best werewolf movies: The Curse of the Werewolf

4. The Curse of the Werewolf (1961)

Hammer Horror’s single addition to lycan canon positions notorious partier Oliver Reed as a man who becomes insatiable come nightfall, prescient casting if ever there was such. The Curse of the Werewolf is a bit atypical of Hammer’s campier style, taking place across generations as a man, Leon, grows up suffering from the consequences of his own horrifying conception.

Hammer mainstay Terence Fisher directs, creating some of his most beautiful work when decoupled from the gothic furnishings of Dracula and Frankenstein. Nestled in the vestiges of 18th century Spain is a bestial tale, slow to start, that ravages by the end.

Best werewolf movies: The Howling

3. The Howling (1981)

It must be said, something was definitely in the air during 1981 when The Howling, An American Werewolf in London, and Wolfen all came out in the same year. Carrying on from 1978’s Piranha, Joe Dante got a little more sincere for The Howling, a quasi-slasher featuring a killer who absolutely refuses to be put down.

When Karen’s stalker is shot in front of her, she’s sent to a camp known as the colony for psychiatric treatment. Sadly, her ordeal isn’t over, and the obsessive murderer that’s been following her re-emerges in the isolated location. Arguably the weakest of ’81’s Lycan trilogy, Dante’s predilection for effects and jet-black humor amid genuine terror still make it essential.

Best werewolf movies: I Was A Teenage Werewolf

2. I Was A Teenage Werewolf (1957)

The film created the blueprint for monstrous transformations as metaphors for troubled teenage development. Unfortunately, I Was A Teenage Werewolf doesn’t have any of the laughs of Teen Wolf or Turning Red, focusing more on what happens when a child doesn’t get appropriate resources or outlets to express their frustrations.

Gene Fowler Jr, known for editing It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad World, transitioned to directing for this feature, and the film was met with some resistance due to the young age of its main character. Nowadays, it’s been used as fodder for Mystery Science Theater 3000. Tricky subject matter as it may be, Michael Landon in the lead helps counteract any doubts.

Best werewolf movies: The Beast Must Die

1. The Beast Must Die (1974)

Peter Cushing, Calvin Lockhart, and Michael Gambon are just three of the reasons this spritely feature-length game of werewolf leaves an impression. Tom Newcliffe (Lockhart) is a millionaire who invites several guests to his mansion in order to test if they have a wild beast lurking within them. Cue several rounds of tense experiments to tease out who it might be.

While the tests are ongoing, the caged animal starts to lash out, and soon it all becomes about survival. For his only feature film, Paul Annett creatively bent genres in a way that makes us ponder what else he might have achieved if he hadn’t gone back to TV series.

For more of what goes bump in the night, have a look at our guides to the best vampire movies, the best ghost movies, and the best Halloween movies of all time. Or, dive into more new movies with our guide to all the Netflix horror movies now streaming.