Lately, I’ve found myself reacquainting myself with my favorite childhood movie monster: the werewolf. Maybe it was because I thought Scott Howard was really cool; maybe it was because Lon Chaney was so badass, but I’ve long had a fascination with werewolves. Hollywood has provided us with a bevy of great werewolf flicks, all highlighted by the transformation scene. Here are some classics:
The Wolf Man (1941)
Tame by today’s standards, this is one of the original werewolf transformation scenes (with the first likely being the 1935 film Werewolf of London). What the film lacks in special effects was made up for with tremendous acting, a great score, and a spooky atmosphere.
Silver Bullet (1985)
There’s nothing like cheesy ’80s horror movies. The special effects from the time period remain my favorite, due in equal parts to Tom Savini and the use of latex in lieu of CGI. Effects aside, this is great because it’s probably the only scene where the werewolf opts to just beat the piss out of his victim with a baseball bat.
Ginger Snaps (2000)
Oh — wait, I just got it! Lycanthropy is a metaphor for when girls get their period and go through puberty! Though a bit on the long side (and kind of overrated), this movie still features a bloody, creepy transformation and a tense final scene.
An American Werewolf in London (1981, top) and The Howling (1981, bottom)
Arguably the two greatest werewolf movies in history were both released in 1981: The Howling and An American Werewolf in London. An American Werewolf in London is clearly the superior film, and its amazing effects, the portrayal of David’s agony, and Sam Cooke’s version of “Blue Moon” playing in the background make it a winner.
The Howling, like “American Werewolf,” also features an intense and frightening extended transformation scene with equally impressive — though slightly more bizarre — special effects. They really milk it here, too, which adds an element of dark humor. I have to wonder, though: if Eddie Quist’s werewolf is so terrifying (as seen in the above clip), why was Karen White so fluffy and cuddly looking when she transformed?