If you love werewolves, it’s frustrating how hard these films are to find. But we’ve got 7 great werewolf movies to sink your teeth into.
Werewolves are one of those classic monsters that just never seem to get enough play in horror movies. While vampires and zombies seem to pop up in every other horror movie, werewolves remain criminally underrated and underrepresented. But here at Morbidly Beautiful, we’re all about celebrating those who deserve more love and attention. And thankfully, there are at least seven watchable movies currently streaming on Shudder that give this beleaguered monster its proper place in the spotlight (or, more appropriately, moonlight).
So without further ado, here are all the werewolf films now on Shudder, counting down in order of entertainment value and influence, until we get to the number one most essential werewolf movie (in my opinion). Can you guess what it will be?
7. WOLF GUY: ENRAGED LYCANTHROPE
Disclaimer: This film was produced in the 70s, so, as a society, we weren’t as socially aware or politically correct as we are now. Wolfguy had some good ideas that were tainted by the movie’s nearly non-stop misogyny. At some points, it’s very hard to watch, like when the film re-enacts a gang rape or slaps around a drug-addicted woman.
With that being said, I want to like this movie so bad, but it’s a hot mess. The wolf-guy in question, Akira Inugami (Sonny Chiba), is hunted by the Japanese government after they discover that his lycanthropic powers can be harnessed. There are no werewolf transformations in this one, folks; only some very goofy effects, and a lot of full-frontal nudity, including a scene near the end in which Akira gives in to his oedipal tendencies.
It’s got some pretty awesome fight sequences, though.
6. BAD MOON
Lawyer Janet Harrison (Mariel Hemingway) and her son (Mason Gamble) are terrorized by something in the woods after Janet’s estranged brother Ted (Michael Paré) comes back from a failed expedition in Nepal. As bodies begin to pile up, it’s the family dog Thor that takes all of the blame.
This Canadian American horror release pulls in different directions. At certain points, it almost feels like a made-for-TV kids movie, where the dog is the main protagonist and has to save his bumbling family from a hungry werewolf, only to shatter that illusion with violence and gore. In researching it, I learned that the film was based on a novel from the dog’s point of view, which explains the undue importance the movie places on Thor the German Shepherd.
At the very least, it’s fun to watch — if only for the bloody werewolf kills.
5. LATE PHASES: NIGHT OF THE LONE WOLF
When a man moves into a community for retired folks, he realizes that once a month the residents are attacked by a mysterious creature. And because it is a retirement community, law enforcement is slow to take action. It’s up to Ambrose McKinley (Nick Damici), a visually impaired ex-soldier, to fight off the assailant.
It’s rare that a horror film takes place in a retirement home, and that alone made Late Phases stand out; retirement homes seem to be the perfect breeding ground for all sorts of insidious things, yet they’re never utilized in horror.
Admittedly, Late Phases is a bit slow, because the werewolf in this one waits for a full lunar cycle. We’re forced into watching Mr. McKinley go about his daily routine — like going to church and arguing with his neighbors — while preparing for a werewolf attack for an entire month.
4. WOLF COP
After small-town cop Lou Garou (Leo Fafard) wakes up with a pentagram scratched into his chest, he suddenly finds himself with extra-heightened senses, strength, and a new motivation to stop crime as the Wolf Cop! As Lou’s powers grow, he uncovers a secret conspiracy that may very well involve the entire town.
Admittedly, I have a soft spot for these kinds of movies. Wolf Cop is just as goofy as its name implies, and, thankfully, it doesn’t try to take itself too seriously. Lou, in and out of werewolf form, is a drunk, inept officer of the law who can barely do his job, and his tendency to fly off the handle only makes his wolf-vigilante scenes better. The film loses steam by the end, unfortunately, but Lou Garou’s adventures as the wolf cop are still worth a watch.
I’ll need to dock some points for police brutality, though.
When their overnight train suddenly breaks down next to the forest, a group of stranded passengers finds themselves battling a pack of vicious werewolves. There’s no way to contact the outside world, the train conductor is dead, and they’re stuck without fuel and no way to protect themselves. It’s up to train guard Joe (Ed Speleers) and train attendant Ellen (Holly Weston) to keep the remaining passengers safe.
In an interesting coincidence, Paul Hyett was one of the minds behind the effects from films like Attack the Block, Doomsday, and The Descent. This time, he directed this unsung werewolf gem. Howl is a mix of Rec and Train to Busan in the best possible way and with a werewolf thrown into the mix for good measure.
The ensemble cast is great, and the film really does play out as it would if any of us regular people were thrown into this insane turn of events; there’s no werewolf versus human final showdown, nor does anyone try to play hero. It’s just people fighting to stay alive.
2. DOG SOLDIERS
A squad of soldiers on a training exercise go into a remote forest and stumble upon a bloody massacre of their fellow troops, torn to shreds by something that has a taste for human flesh. As night falls, the shrinking platoon makes their final stand in an isolated farmhouse, to hold out for help until dawn comes.
Dog Soldiers was helmed by the same director of The Descent and Doomsday, director Neil Marshall. The film has a bit of a rocky start, but things ramp up quickly.
It’s a slow burn, as a lot of the focus is on the soldiers, their fight to stay alive, and how they grapple with imminent death and isolation — plus a whole pack of slobbering, hungry werewolves.
1. GINGER SNAPS
The lives of two outcast sisters obsessed with death are completely uprooted when one of them is bitten by a werewolf. As Bridgette Fitzgerald (Emily Perkins) tries to save her sister Ginger (Katherine Isabelle) from turning into a full wolf, the pair leave behind a trail of blood, death, and destruction.
Finally, this horror classic can now be found streaming on Shudder. There’s no other werewolf movie (at least on Shudder at the moment) that deserves the top spot because there’s no other werewolf movie like Ginger Snaps. Not only do the Fitzgerald sisters have to contend with supernatural forces, but more mundane things like puberty, menstruation, and all the unpleasantness of being a teenage girl threatening to break the two best friends apart.
Werewolves have always been a great analogy for change, and no other werewolf film utilizes the monster and its implications quite as effectively and unforgettably as Ginger Snaps.
I should note that it’s completely likely that I’ve missed a werewolf film hidden somewhere on Shudder, and it’s also very likely that after this article publishes, Shudder will start streaming another werewolf movie. Howl, for example, became available very recently. Even at the bottom of the list, every single one of these films is worth viewing, especially if you’re a fan of the werewolf. And I’m so grateful there’s a streaming platform like Shudder committed to representing the genre in all its glory — honoring the transformative power of horror.