(Photo by Universal, Avco Embassy, Cannon Films, Summit Entertainment, Unapix Entertainment/courtesy Everett Collection)

The 25 Essential Werewolf Movies To Watch Right Now

Werewolves haven’t had the same pop cultural penetration as their fright-night brethren like zombies, vampires, and the assortment of slasher villains, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have movies worth howling for. As with most movie monsters, the earliest efforts in the genre are among the best, as they open audience eyes to previously unseen worlds of terror, and illuminate a future of sequels, ripoffs, and remakes. 1941’s The Wolf Man, with Lon Chaney Jr., remains the fast and furriest, though we also pay tribute to its 1935 progenitor Werewolf of London.

Since ol’ Wolfy got a late start compared to other Universal Classic Monsters, at a time when their influence was beginning to wane, the studio was quick to put him in crossover sequels that were the style at the time. 1940s movies like Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man and The House of Frankenstein saw Chaney doing his best in a crowded cast.

Things frankly got quiet for a few decades, until in 1981 no less than three influential werewolf movies came out: Wolfen, The Howling, and An American Werewolf in London. Being back in the spotlight, and this being the ’80s, of course werewolves also got a teen comedy (Teen Wolf) and a kid-friendly romp (The Monster Squad).

Highlights since that ’80s heyday include the feminist deconstruction Ginger Snaps, action-packed Dog Soldiers, and getting the sexy treatment in both Underworld and Twilight.

If it’s a bright night out with a full moon, then you know what that means: Barricade the door, smelt all the silver in the house down into bullets, and get ready for a fur-flyin’ fight. That, or just check out our guide to the 25 Essential Werewolf Movies and settle in for a howling good time.

Adjusted Score: 61.338%
Critics Consensus: A fun '80s adventure with a slightly scary twist, The Monster Squad offers tween-friendly horror with just enough of a kick.
Synopsis: A quintet of classic movie monsters invades a small town looking for a lost amulet that will help them rule... [More]
Directed By: Fred Dekker


Wolfen (1981)

Adjusted Score: 76.218%
Critics Consensus: Police procedural meets werewolf flick in Wolfen, a creepy creature feature with a surprisingly profound side.
Synopsis: Based on the novel by Whitley Strieber, a wealthy land developer and his wife are viciously murdered in the South... [More]
Directed By: Michael Wadleigh

Adjusted Score: 78.984%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When English botanist Dr. Glendon travels to Tibet in search of the mysterious marifasa plant, he encounters a strange wolf-like... [More]


Wolf (1994)

Adjusted Score: 64.114%
Critics Consensus: Wolf misses the jugular after showing flashes of killer instinct early on, but engaging stars and deft direction make this a unique horror-romance worth watching.
Synopsis: Jack Nicholson becomes a werewolf in this bizarre comedy-horror film directed by Mike Nichols. Nicholson plays Will Randall, a book... [More]
Directed By: Mike Nichols

Adjusted Score: 26.632%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this fifth film in Universal's "Frankenstein" series, Larry Talbot, alias The Wolf Man, is brought back to the land... [More]
Directed By: Roy William Neill

Adjusted Score: 36.727%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: After injecting new life into classic movie monsters Dracula and Frankenstein, Hammer Studios apply their Gothic touch to another monster... [More]
Directed By: Terence Fisher

Adjusted Score: 45.748%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this horror film, based on the novella Cycle of the Werewolf, by Stephen King, a werewolf is terrorizing a... [More]
Directed By: Daniel Attias


Teen Wolf (1985)

Adjusted Score: 43.885%
Critics Consensus: Though Michael J. Fox is as charismatic as ever, Teen Wolf's coming-of-age themes can't help but feel a little stale and formulaic.
Synopsis: After sitting on the shelf for some time, Teen Wolf was released on the heels of the hugely successful Back... [More]
Directed By: Rod Daniel


Van Helsing (2004)

Adjusted Score: 30.486%
Critics Consensus: A hollow creature feature that suffers from CGI overload.
Synopsis: The greatest monster hunter of them all has his work cut out for him as he tracks down three deadly... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Sommers

Adjusted Score: 35.474%
Critics Consensus: The Twilight Saga's second installment may satisfy hardcore fans of the series, but outsiders are likely to be turned off by its slow pace, relentlessly downcast tone, and excessive length.
Synopsis: The supernatural tale of star-crossed lovers continues as the Cullen family flees Forks in order to protect Bella (Kristen Stewart),... [More]
Directed By: Chris Weitz

Adjusted Score: 91.42%
Critics Consensus: The Wolf of Snow Hollow treads somewhat unsteadily between horror and comedy, but writer-director-star Jim Cummings' unique sensibilities make for an oddly haunting hybrid.
Synopsis: The Wolf of Snow Hollow follows a small-town sheriff, struggling with a failed marriage, a rebellious daughter, and a lackluster... [More]
Directed By: Jim Cummings


Underworld (2003)

Adjusted Score: 35.447%
Critics Consensus: Though stylish to look at, Underworld is tedious and derivative.
Synopsis: A young man who has pledged his life to helping others finds himself in a pitched battle between two gangs... [More]
Directed By: Len Wiseman


Another WolfCop (2017)

Adjusted Score: 50.41%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Alcoholic werewolf cop Lou Garou springs into action when an eccentric businessman with evil intentions seduces Woodhaven's residents with a... [More]
Directed By: Lowell Dean

Adjusted Score: 46.64%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The feminist horror film genre might not have very many prominent entries, but the critically acclaimed 2000 film Ginger Snaps... [More]
Directed By: Brett Sullivan


The Howling (1981)

Adjusted Score: 72.42%
Critics Consensus: The Howling packs enough laughs into its lycanthropic carnage to distinguish it from other werewolf entries, with impressive visual effects adding some bite.
Synopsis: This groundbreaking, darkly comic horror film from director Joe Dante changed the look and feel of werewolf movies in ways... [More]
Directed By: Joe Dante


Dog Soldiers (2002)

Adjusted Score: 79.271%
Critics Consensus: Frightening, funny, and packed with action, Dog Soldiers is well worth checking out for genre fans -- and marks writer-director Neil Marshall as a talent to keep an eye on.
Synopsis: British director Neil Marshall's directorial debut Dog Soldiers resurrects and embraces the low-budget horror-comedy. Sergeant Harry Wells (Sean Pertwee) leads... [More]
Directed By: Neil Marshall

Adjusted Score: 80.373%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: After hearing her grandmother's stories about dangerous men, a 13-year-old girl has nightmares that transform her into Little Red Riding... [More]
Directed By: Neil Jordan


Ginger Snaps (2001)

Adjusted Score: 91.238%
Critics Consensus: The strong female cast and biting satire of teenage life makes Ginger Snaps far more memorable than your average werewolf movie -- or teen flick.
Synopsis: In this modern werewolf tale, sisters Ginger and Brigitte are ostracized by their town because of their morbid inclinations. Soon... [More]
Directed By: John Fawcett

Adjusted Score: 91.083%
Critics Consensus: Terrifying and funny in almost equal measure, John Landis' horror-comedy crosses genres while introducing Rick Baker's astounding make-up effects.
Synopsis: While wandering the English moors on vacation, college yanks David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) happen upon a quaint... [More]
Directed By: John Landis


The Wolf Man (1941)

Adjusted Score: 96.086%
Critics Consensus: A handsomely told tale with an affecting performance from Lon Chaney, Jr., The Wolf Man remains one of the classics of the Universal horror stable.
Synopsis: "Even a man who is pure at heart/And says his prayers by night/May become a wolf when the wolf-bane blooms/And... [More]
Directed By: George Waggner

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