Werewolves are among the most popular horror monsters of all time, yet they make up one of the most overlooked of sub-genres. That’s always sort of been the fate of the werewolf. They’re harder to pull off than vampires or zombies, simply because they can’t be done as cheaply. It takes both money and effort to make a werewolf look good on the screen. Even when the makeup and creature design are excellent, someone will always comment about how stupid or unrealistic they look. But when they’re bad, they’re really bad.
They’ve always been a high-risk monster and that is never something investors are particularly interested in. Even the classics like The Wolf Man, An American Werewolf in London and The Howling are never quite as successful as the vampire endeavors made around the same time. Dracula ultimately took in more viewers than Wolf Man because audiences wanted a suave and seductive monster. They didn’t want a literal beast.
Because of this, there are all too few great werewolf movies. That makes it harder to try and imagine any that went underrated or overlooked, but I assure you that they’re out there. Not all of them are particularly great, but all of the titles you’ll see on this list are truly watchable, entertaining, forgotten werewolf features that excel in representing the beast inside.
The Company of Wolves
Company of Wolves is an excellent update on the tale of Little Red Riding Hood from Interview With the Vampire director Neil Jordan. It’s low-budget, feeling a little more like a BBC production than an outright feature film, but is remarkable nonetheless in its portrayal of an age-old theme: All men are beasts. It’s about the wolf that—in this case literally—lurks inside every single man, cruel or kind.
A less than stellar writing debut from Tom Holland, directed by the same man who brought us Howling II and III, Beast Within is far from perfect but has its own sense of charm all the same. It’s not a great movie, but there are elements of Holland’s interesting story still in there and it truly is an interesting and entertaining film, regardless of what it could have been.
There are some werewolf pictures that are pure schlock, and entertaining for that fact above all else. Project: Metalbeast is an absolutely ridiculous movie. It’s a Canadian production starring Barry Bostwick about a military operation to enhance a werewolf with metal skin, thus creating a truly unstoppable killing machine. It’s exactly as entertaining as it sounds. For good measure, Kane Hodder plays the werewolf.
I don’t why Wolfen is so forgotten other than the fact that it was released in 1981, the same year as An American Werewolf in London and The Howling. At that point, it was sort of destined to become the “other” werewolf movie. It’s a very non-traditional lycanthrope film as well, given that these wolves don’t actually have a human form. It still counts, I think, because they are telepathic and capable of human thought, thus still making them a hybrid. Wolfen is based on a book by Whitley Strieber, who also wrote The Hunger.
Bad Moon is surprisingly great, especially because it came out in the ‘90’s, a decade that barely gave us any werewolf fare at all. This one has great locations, a likable cast and excels in the one area most important to a film like this: The werewolf itself looks excellent. That really just elevates it as a werewolf feature, but luckily it’s not the only good thing about it.
Made by Universal before The Wolf Man, Werewolf of London seems well and truly forgotten. It’s still out there, it’s still available to watch, but people don’t. They never talk about it. Yet it has some great, moody atmosphere and impressive makeup work that I think warrants a second look.
Everyone loves to talk about Ginger Snaps and wisely lists it among their favorites of the last fifteen years. But you rarely see love for the imaginative sequel. Even the third, Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning, probably has more fans. But I like the second, it’s a smart follow-up that gets points for being a very different kind of film than the first.