Monday, November 23, 2009

A Look at Werewolves from WOLF MAN to NEW MOON


My wife and I went to see New Moon yesterday and we both enjoyed the blockbuster sequel to Twilight.  It's good to finally see some werewolves getting screen time next to those ubiquitous vampires. 

The werewolf has been a popular monster in movies and television for generations.  Some look like humans in shape, walking upright and maintaining mostly human faces, while others (like the design from New Moon, seen above) look more like the real animal (in New Moon's case, jumbo-sized.) 

Here's a look at some of the werewolves from TV and movie history that I particularly enjoyed. 


The Wolf Man -- The makeup effects (with the funky-hairdo) might look quaint by today's standards, but this was the movie that arguably put the werewolf monster on the map.  Lon Chaney Jr. made audiences sympathize with the cursed man who turned into an out of control creature during the full moon and could only be stopped with a silver bullet.  The character appeared in a number of classics from Universal Pictures and set the tone for many ripoffs to follow. 


(There's a remake coming up starring Benicio Del Toro, seen above.)


I was a Teenage Werewolf -- Michael Landon did a great job in this metaphor about the changes of puberty and the struggles of being a teenager in the 1950s. The makeup looks silly through modern eyes, but the story is more compelling than its b-movie stigma might imply.


Curse of the Werewolf -- Hammer Studios revived the Universal monsters to great success, capturing what made them such audience pleasers while adding new elements (like more blood and sex) to appeal to contemporary filmgoers.


An American Werewolf in London -- The practical makeup special effects in this film still are the best, even compared to some digital computer effects.  (I never saw the sequel, An American Werewolf in Paris, so I can't compare.)


Teen Wolf -- Michael J. Fox played a high school student who becomes a basketball superstar when he turns into a werewolf.  Jason Bateman took over the lead in the sequel, Teen Wolf Too.


Werewolf -- This short-lived television series had potential, but sadly never lived up to it.

Silver Bullet -- Based on Stephen King's Cycle of the Werewolf, this movie had a few good scenes but overall was forgettable.


The Howling -- This was a cheesy but fun film that became a cult classic.  It launched a number of pretty bad sequels but the original is still enjoyable.


Wolfen -- A slick flick for its time, it seems a little dated today, but it still has some good scares.


Company of Wolves -- I love the concept (retelling the story of "Little Red Riding Hood" as a werewolf horror tale) but the movie was an artsy-fartsy mess.


Van Helsing -- The concept was interesting, turning Dracula's hunter into a monster-killing action hero, but the execution was pretty weak.  The computer generated effects were just too fake-looking.


Underworld -- New Moon isn't the only movie that pitted vampires versus werewolves.  The Underworld films were good popcorn flicks that explored their own version of the mythology.


Wolf -- Jack Nicholson didn't need much makeup to look like a werewolf.

Brotherhood of the Wolf -- Hunt this down.  It's one of my favorites.


Harry Potter -- One of the characters turns out to be a werewolf. 


Monster Squad -- A lot of kids liked this version of the classic monsters.  Personally, it was a little shallow for my tastes.


Being Human -- This British series is pretty good but the werewolf makeup is a little blah.  The transformation scenes, however, are top notch.

There are tons of others.  Which ones are your favorites?

8 comments:

DAS LIA said...

Nice post! I personally favor the ones from Van Helsing, since they were copied from my favorite artist; goldenwolf.com!

Anonymous said...

If your all about werewolves like I am (and in case you haven't seen this) I would highly suggest you watch the gingersnap movies. The werewolves are a little cheesy but over all its a decent bunch of movies.

Anonymous said...

the best looking werewolf in cinema has got to be Fenrir Greyback. hands down.

Blair said...

How could you forget "Dog Soldiers."

Nick said...

I definitely need to check out Gingersnap and Dog Soldiers. Thanks for the recommendations.

charlie said...

all of you are forgetting blood and chocolate, not really a good movie but great book. also you need to see american werewolf in paris the transformation scenes are neat and its a fun movie. have to say i am partail to goldenwolf.com myself have been for years so i do like the van helsing wolves. wish they would make more like them.

Anonymous said...

The one picture was the Ginger Snaps werewolf, not the company of wolves.

Nick said...

Thanks for the correction. Ginger Snaps was a great movie!