Mar 29 2011 2:26pm

Top 10 Best Werewolves in Movies & TV

WerewolvesHorror is typically a genre I tread lightly around, at least when it comes to books, and I inevitably think of slasher films when I hear the words “horror movie.” I’ve seen an embarrassingly low number of slasher films; to say nothing of actually liking them. Freddy has never been invited to my sleepovers, I don’t know much about Jason except that he has mommy issues, and as far as I’m concerned Jigsaw is just another world for puzzle. But ask me about monster movies and I perk right up, especially if said monsters are werewolves.

I’m a crazy snob when it comes werewolf effects. I seriously considered abandoning the TV show Buffy when Oz underwent his werewolf makeover, going as he did from a decently scary werewolf in one episode to a furry wookie-like dog in the next. Good werewolf effects, on the other hand, can make me overlook the shortcomings in an otherwise average movie/TV show.

Which got me thinking about some of the best and worst looking werewolves.  I’m excluding the giant wolves variety (sorry Twilight fans) and sticking with the scary, snarling, true monster variety. With that in mind, here’s my countdown of the top ten best werewolves in movies and TV (aka Rick Baker is awesome).  This list is based on werewolf effects, not necessarily the overall quality of the film/show, otherwise we’d be talking about Silver Bullet.

I’ll be following up this post with a list of the worst werewolves, so I guess I’ll be talking about Silver Bullet after all. Thanks to everyone from the Tor.com Urban Fantasy Facebook and Twitter accounts for all the suggestions. Keep them coming!


10.) Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Werewolf Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Actor Seth Green played the teenage Oz on the show. At only 5"4, originally, Seth’s werewolf form was played by a much taller actor, resulting in this hulking monster.


9.) Werewolf


Actor John J. York played Eric Cord in this shortlived TV show from the late 80’s, which featured some still impressive effects by the always impressive Rick Baker.


8.) Being Human (U.K.)

Being Human werewolf

Actor Russell Tovey is the werewolf George in this U.K. hit that was recently brought to the U.S. in the SyFy show of the same name. The premise may be the same in both shows, but the U.K. version trounces the U.S. in the werewolf department.


7.) The Wolfman (2010)

The Wolfman

Actor Benicio Del Toro stepped into the role of Lawrence Talbot, made famous by Lon Chaney Jr. in the 1941 classic, for this remake. Rick Baker created a look that was faithful to the original iconic design, yet scary enough in way demanded by modern audiences.


6.) Underworld

werewolves from Underworld

Scott Speedman’s half vampire half lycan form may have been unimpressive, but the costumes for the full werewolves were anything but.


5.) Waxwork

werewolf from Waxwork

Starring Zach Galligan (Gremlins) as a teen who, along with his friends, becomes a victim in waxwork museum displays. Dog ears aside, this werewolf still gives me nightmares. As does the sequel, but for different reasons.


4.) Bad Moon

werewolf from Bad Moon

Based on the novel Thor by Wayne Smith, Bad Moon stars Michael Paré as the werewolf Uncle Ted. And in case you’re curious about the victim pictured above, he’s the kid from Dennis the Menace.


3.) An American Werewolf in London

An American Werewolf in London

 Rick Baker won the first-ever makeup artistry Oscar for werewolf effects on writer/director John Landis’s 1981 horror/comedy. Groundbreaking then, still brilliant today.


2.) The Howling

The Howling

Based on the novel by Gary Brandner and directed by Joe Dante. Rob Bottin created the werewolf effects, stepping in when original effects artist Rick Baker decided to leave to work on An American Werewolf in London.


1.) Dog Soldiers

Dog Soldiers

Writer/director Neil Marshall’s British werewolves were created without any CGI effects, instead relying on animatronics (designed by Richard Darwin), costumes, and makeup effects to produce eight feet tall monsters with jaws big enough to bite a man in half and legs that hinge backwards.  


There you have it. My picks for the ten best werewolves. Which are your favorite? I’m still putting together the list of worst werewolves, so let me hear your picks in the comments.

Abigail Johnson manages the Tor.com Urban Fantasy Facebook and Twitter accounts and spends way too much time thinking about vampires, werewolves, zombies and all things paranormal in books, movies, TV and video games.

James Goetsch
1. Jedikalos
How could you forget this one?
2. Crowgirl
What about the 1996 Werewolf? Has to be one of the worst lycanthropes ever! And not just because of how many times the MST crew pointed it out: "Is that a bat? A bug? What is that?"
Abigail Johnson
3. AbigailJohnson
@Jedikalos - Trust me I did not forget Teen Wolf. You will be seeing him on the worst list.

@Crowgirl - Good call. Truly terrible. The worst list is going to be so much harder to pick only ten.
David Thomson
4. ZetaStriker
I still find it funny that Dog Soldiers has made number one. Admittedly, your point is valid . . . but the movie itself is so bad that it just feels weird seeing a #1 next to it.
David Levinson
5. DemetriosX
A couple of those are vaguely reminiscent of the werewolf in the short-lived syndicated series American Werewolf (AKA Love and Curses). The show was silly, but the werewolf wasn't bad and used a bipedal form similar to the one in Dog Soldiers. I'd have put the one from American Werewolf in London at #1. Those makeup effects were incredible and it is about the only instance I can think of where the transformation was shown as being painful.
Irene Gallo
6. Irene
American Werewolf was one of those movies I saw a dozen times as a kid. It was one of those early gateway-drugs that got me to Tor, I'm sure.

A few years ago I attended an art opening hosted by Rick Baker and got to see his mini-musuem of effects. A great night...Although I was such a a whimp that another freind had to force me to get my picture taken with him.
Abigail Johnson
7. AbigailJohnson
@ZetaStriker - I still get a kick out of Dog Soldiers. I think it's perfect for what it was trying to be.
Abigail Johnson
8. AbigailJohnson
@DemetroisX - I haven't ever seen American Werewolf and couldn't find an image online. Now I'm really curious. Honestly the top 3 were really hard to put in order. They all look pretty amazing.

@Irene - That is so cool. I hope you thank your friend. A lot.
David Levinson
9. DemetriosX
Abigail @8: Apparently, I had the name wrong and it was She-Wolf of London, which is even less helpful, since that was a B-movie in the 30s or 40s. I tried to find something, but the only shot I could find was mid-transformation and looks terrible. IIRC, she looked somewhat like the werewolf in the shot from Dog Soldiers, but a little wider in the shoulders and wolfier in the face.

They used the effect very sparingly, since it was a low-budget TV show that in a mere 20 episodes went from horror to cheesey rom-com. Most of the time, they'd hint at it and the heroine would wake-up somewhere the next day with no clothes. Eventually, she'd get locked up before the transformation and all we'd see was a door shaking in its hinges with some growling and howling.
Adam Weber
10. SvelteDesert
What about the Van Helsing Werewolves? I really loved their transformation scenes.
Abigail Johnson
11. AbigailJohnson
@DemetriosX Thanks for the update. Is this her?

@Svelte - Uh oh. You might not to read my worst list :)
David Levinson
12. DemetriosX
Abigail @11: Must be. That's for the right series, anyway. I don't remember her being so simian (which is a common problem with werewolf make-up). Mostly, I remember a silhouette against the night sky that resembled the figure in the Dog Soldiers screen cap up there. My memory appears to have been playing tricks on me.
Abigail Johnson
13. AbigailJohnson
@DemetroisX - No, I think I saw the image you're describing. It looked like mud though in terms of picture quality. Too bad. It would have been nice to see the full monkey look :)
David Levinson
14. DemetriosX
I kept forgetting to add that, while I haven't seen Bad Moon, the source novel Thor is a) very scary and b) does the most amazing job of getting inside a dog's head.
15. KathleenPeacock
For me, personally, An American Werewolf is number one--simply because of the influence it had on everything that came after. Close number two would definately be George's transformation from Being Human UK (especially the first time it's shown with Mitchell's voiceover).
16. cnote56
very cool overview and discussion.
17. Simoneer
Finally a list without Wolfen on it! You wonder if those guys who insist on putting that on werewolf-lists have even seen it, you know?
18. Marty McIntosh
My favorite Werwwolf movie is The Howing And ofcourse the 1987-1988 TV Series Werewolf. The Wolf Man starring Benicio Del Toro was the most excellent remake of the 1941 classic of the same name. Anthony Hopkins was also excellent as well as many others. And yes,Werewolf was corny as hell but it some places it was fun to watch as i own it on both VHS and DVD.
19. wineguider
Great list. I am wondering if your results would change if the subject were "10 greatest werewolf transformations," i.e., the most convincing, realistic change-overs from human to werewolf. This is what I'm looking for. I would assume the winners would all be big-budget Hollywood movies from the last 10 years?
21. igork
The best : A american were wolf in london and paris.

howlign 1

wolf man 2010
22. Aqib Khan
The Van Helsing (2004) werewolf and Doctor who's "tooth and claw" episode werewolf should be the top 2.
lance Ikegawa
23. furtech
As long as you're not counting the quality of the film itself, here are a few you might consider pretty neat:

Howling: Reborn

The costumes were *great*, but poorly executed in the film. They were made by Adrian Morot. I wish these could show up in something that brought out their awsomeness!

Also, you were looking for good shots of the original, snouty Shewolf of London:

It's another shot not from the actual show, but a neat behind-the-scenes pic.

I -think- this is from the original "Werewolf" TV series:

Again, another behind-the-scenes pic.
24. pruitt
Seems like every werewolf on that list has the exact same design except an american werewolf in london. i just watched the new film Werewolf a beast among us and it falls right in with the others. Tall biped with sparse hair and long snout. i want to see something new. I'm in post production on an indie werewolf film now. I'll post pics when the creatures done. let me know what you think. great list btw!
25. Horror on Screen
I was sad to see that Ginger Snaps is not in it

26. wolfeyes
You did not just forget Van Helsing!! he is clearly the best werewolf ever in any movie anyone has seen
27. djkoz78
I like the list but Dog Soldiers werewolves wouldn't have been Number 1 for me. I still think Underworld has the best looking werewolves to date. Yet the Howling imo Number 1 bcuz it scared the shit out of me when I was a kid. Then Werewolf in London, then Werewolf the Series bc I loved that show when I was a kid also scared the shit out of me. Then Underworld Lucian specifically is just amazing to look at. Then Dog Soldiers I only say this because of the Head of the werewolf looked so bizarre to me the rest of the costume looked amazing just I had trouble with the head. Never seen Waxwork I'm gonna check that out immediately. Here's an honorable mention though is the Werewolf from Cabin In The Woods was pretty bad ass too.

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