The 10 Best Movies About Werewolves and Lycanthropes

The thought of man turning into beast is laden with dramatic potential. These great werewolf movies explore this from all kinds of angles.
The 10 Best Movies About Werewolves and Lycanthropes

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Werewolves. Lycanthropes. Moonlit monsters that howl into the skies as their horrifying transformations occur during a full moon.

The werewolf is a symbolic monster. It's a stark representation of the duality of man—the sophisticated and the primal, the intellectual and the powerful force of nature within.

Some interpret this internal battle as an attempt to harness our most depraved impulses and tame our violent energies. The werewolf identity is an internal struggle against one's animalistic self.

And there have been many fantastic werewolf movies over the decades! Here are my picks for the best movies about werewolves.

10. What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

Trailer for What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

What We Do in the Shadows is actually about vampires, but I'm including it because it has one of the most memorable showings of werewolves.

The first time you see these vampires face off with werewolves, threatening each other with Kiwi accents, you'll bust out laughing. ("We're werewolves, not swearwolves!")

It doesn't matter whether Taika Waititi and Jermaine Clement meant for this to be a commentary on the internal battle that werewolves face. It's fantastic satire of a well-known mythological creature.

9. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

Trailer for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

While the werewolf aspect of Harry Potter's third-year adventure wasn't necessarily central to the plot, it certainly made the film several times more exciting.

Near the end, from out of nowhere, we're treated to an epic battle between two enormous beasts—one being a werewolf.

Of course, it was only David Thewlis and Gary Oldman, but these two exceptional actors made Prisoner of Azkaban's werewolf component that much more compelling. And probably even a little frightening for some of the younger audience...

8. The Company of Wolves (1984)

Trailer for The Company of Wolves (1984)

Now we're starting to look at some of the classics of werewolf cinema. Directed by Neil Jordan, The Company of Wolves takes the traditional folktale of Little Red Riding Hood and gives it a fantastic new interpretation.

The plot follows Rosaleen, a young girl who's staying with her grandmother after her sister is run down and eaten by a pack of wolves. However, after a while, she decides to return to the village.

But before she can leave the house, Granny gives Rosaleen a chilling warning: "Never stray from the path, never eat a windfall apple, and never trust a man whose eyebrows meet."

7. The Howling (1981)

Trailer for The Howling (1981)

Karen White is the unfortunate victim of a serial-killing stalker. In an attempt to catch him once and for all, she cooperates with the police and meets him in a theater.

Sound like a bad plan? Of course it is.

After a bloody shootout, Karen loses consciousness and forgets everything that happened. Traumatized, she speaks with a therapist who recommends that she and her husband take a holiday retreat to an isolated resort in the far countryside.

However, it becomes clear that things are amiss in this cult-like encampment, and soon things become much more sinister than anything Karen could have imagined.

6. Ginger Snaps (2000)

Trailer for Ginger Snaps (2000)

One of the better horror-comedies out there, Ginger Snaps is a great film for any teenager who wants to ease into their first horror experience. This one's a bit scary, but it's also tons of fun.

Brigitte and Ginger are two teenage Goth friends who have a flair for all things dark and deathly. However, after Ginger has her first period, she's attacked by a wild animal in the woods.

The bonds of their friendship start to be tested when it transpires that Ginger has, in fact, become a werewolf. It's an allegory for puberty, of course, and it's both insightful and biting.

5. Wolfen (1981)

Trailer for Wolfen (1981)

It's fair to say that 1981 was a good year for werewolf movies, with three of them featuring on this list. We already had The Howling, and now we have Wolfen. (You'll have to keep reading for the third one!)

Wolfen follows a police officer who's tasked with solving a series of increasingly violent, animalistic murders.

He initially believes they're animal attacks, but as he finds each one more grisly and gruesome than the last, he suspects there's something worse at play—something darker, something unscientific, and something much more ancient...

4. The Wolf of Snow Hollow (2020)

Trailer for The Wolf of Snow Hollow (2020)

The Wolf of Snow Hollow swings back to a more modern interpretation of the lycanthrope mythology, with writer-actor-filmmaker Jim Cummings taking on the trope in horror-comedy fashion.

In this movie, we start with PJ Palfrey and his girlfriend Brianne. They're taking a holiday in Snow Hollow, Utah and are hoping for a most pleasant trip. However, things only go from bad to worse.

After getting into a fight with a duo of hunters, PJ finds his girlfriend savagely murdered by an animal—what appears to be a large paw print is the only thing by her body.

The Wolf of Snow Hollow is one of the great contemporary stories about werewolves, but there's one modern film that did it even better...

3. Werewolves Within (2021)

Trailer for Werewolves Within (2021)

If you're in search of a movie that successfully turns an old folktale into a compelling narrative for contemporary audiences, then look no further than Werewolves Within.

A new sheriff moves to a paradise mountain town only to encounter all of its crazy inhabitants and their internal conflict: some want a pipeline to come through the mountain (for the money) while others want to refuse and preserve the natural scenery.

Josh Ruben's Werewolves Within doesn't just highlight the internal conflict between man and beast when someone is bitten by a werewolf, but also the internal conflict in societies.

Funny, scary, and intelligent, Werewolves Within is one of the most underestimated movies of recent years, let alone one of the best movies about werewolves since the turn of the millenium.

2. The Wolf Man (1941)

Trailer for The Wolf Man (1941)

The Wolf Man is a classic must-watch for any lycanthrope fan. It's an iconic look at one's internal struggle between man and beast, and it was the film that elevated the concept of man turning wild into a philosophical masterpiece.

And The Wolf Man wasn't just a profound take on werewolves—it was also technologically impressive with its filming techniques.

While it has aged quite a bit (which we understand, given that it came out more than 80 years ago), The Wolf Man is still a fantastic film that influenced all werewolf movies that came after it.

1. An American Werewolf in London (1981)

Trailer for An American Werewolf in London (1981)

Of all the werewolf movies in cinema history, John Landis's An American Werewolf in London comes out on top as a clear winner.

It centers on two American tourists who are visiting London. They come across a small, provincial town that just so happens to harbor a deadly, supernatural threat—and their luck falls through as they unfortunately stumble across the beast themselves.

What makes this film so fantastic is that it humanizes the animalistic side of man (and beast) in a poignant way. It infuses the story with romance, comedy, and horror, but most importantly, there's an aspect of tragedy that elevates this film above the rest.

For those reasons, An American Werewolf in London isits atop our list of best movies about werewolves ever made.