(Photo by Universal, Avco Embassy, Cannon Films, Summit Entertainment, Unapix Entertainment/courtesy Everett Collection)

The 25 Essential Werewolf Movies To Watch Right Now

Werewolves haven’t had the same pop cultural penetration as their fright-night brethren like zombies, vampires, and the assortment of slasher villains, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have movies worth howling for. As with most movie monsters, the earliest efforts in the genre are among the best, as they open audience eyes to previously unseen worlds of terror, and illuminate a future of sequels, ripoffs, and remakes. 1941’s The Wolf Man, with Lon Chaney Jr., remains the fast and furriest, though we also pay tribute to its 1935 progenitor Werewolf of London.

Since ol’ Wolfy got a late start compared to other Universal Classic Monsters, at a time when their influence was beginning to wane, the studio was quick to put him in crossover sequels that were the style at the time. 1940s movies like Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man and The House of Frankenstein saw Chaney doing his best in a crowded cast.

Things frankly got quiet for a few decades, until in 1981 no less than three influential werewolf movies came out: Wolfen, The Howling, and An American Werewolf in London. Being back in the spotlight, and this being the ’80s, of course werewolves also got a teen comedy (Teen Wolf) and a kid-friendly romp (The Monster Squad).

Highlights since that ’80s heyday include the feminist deconstruction Ginger Snaps, action-packed Dog Soldiers, and getting the sexy treatment in both Underworld and Twilight.

If it’s a bright night out with a full moon, then you know what that means: Barricade the door, smelt all the silver in the house down into bullets, and get ready for a fur-flyin’ fight. That, or just check out our guide to the 25 Essential Werewolf Movies and settle in for a howling good time.

#20

Wolfen (1981)
75%

#20
Adjusted Score: 71058%
Critics Consensus: Police procedural meets werewolf flick in Wolfen, a creepy creature feature with a surprisingly profound side.
Synopsis: New York City police investigator Dewey Wilson (Albert Finney) is trying to solve a series of grisly deaths in which... [More]
Directed By: Michael Wadleigh

#19
#19
Adjusted Score: 46543%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: While in Tibet researching a mysterious flower that purportedly takes its strength from the moon, botanist Wilfred Glendon (Henry Hull)... [More]
Directed By: Stuart Walker

#18

Wolf (1994)
63%

#18
Adjusted Score: 66278%
Critics Consensus: Wolf misses the jugular after showing flashes of killer instinct early on, but engaging stars and deft direction make this a unique horror-romance worth watching.
Synopsis: After being bitten by a wolf in rural Vermont, aging book editor Will Randall (Jack Nicholson) finds himself full of... [More]
Directed By: Mike Nichols

#17

WolfCop II (2016)
65%

#17
Adjusted Score: 64105%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: An alcoholic cop experiences blackouts and starts turning into a werewolf when the full moon appears in the sky.... [More]
Directed By: Lowell Dean

#16
Adjusted Score: 26074%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Lawrence Stewart Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) is plagued by a physical oddity that turns him into a crazed werewolf after... [More]
Directed By: Roy William Neill

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 34864%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A man with brutal and macabre origins, Leon Corledo (Oliver Reed) was raised in the home of Don Alfredo Corledo... [More]
Directed By: Terence Fisher

#14

Silver Bullet (1985)
48%

#14
Adjusted Score: 47907%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When a series of unexplained murders occurs in the normally quiet town of Tarker's Mill, the residents decide to hunt... [More]
Directed By: Daniel Attias

#13

Teen Wolf (1985)
42%

#13
Adjusted Score: 44005%
Critics Consensus: Though Michael J. Fox is as charismatic as ever, Teen Wolf's coming-of-age themes can't help but feel a little stale and formulaic.
Synopsis: When high school nerd Scott Howard (Michael J. Fox) learns from his father, Harold (James Hampton), that being a werewolf... [More]
Directed By: Rod Daniel

#12

Van Helsing (2004)
24%

#12
Adjusted Score: 33348%
Critics Consensus: A hollow creature feature that suffers from CGI overload.
Synopsis: Famed monster slayer Gabriel Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) is dispatched to Transylvania to assist the last of the Valerious bloodline... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Sommers

#11
Adjusted Score: 37967%
Critics Consensus: The Twilight Saga's second installment may satisfy hardcore fans of the series, but outsiders are likely to be turned off by its slow pace, relentlessly downcast tone, and excessive length.
Synopsis: After the abrupt departure of Edward (Robert Pattinson), her vampire love, Bella (Kristen Stewart) finds comfort in her deepening friendship... [More]
Directed By: Chris Weitz

#10
#10
Adjusted Score: 93688%
Critics Consensus: The Wolf of Snow Hollow treads somewhat unsteadily between horror and comedy, but writer-director-star Jim Cummings' unique sensibilities make for an oddly haunting hybrid.
Synopsis: A stressed-out police officer struggles not to give in to the paranoia that grips his small mountain town as bodies... [More]
Directed By: Jim Cummings

#9
#9
Adjusted Score: 92219%
Critics Consensus: Werewolves Within is the rare horror comedy that offers equal helpings of either genre -- and adds up to a whole lot of fun in the bargain.
Synopsis: After a proposed pipeline creates divisions within the small town of Beaverfield, and a snowstorm traps its residents together inside... [More]
Directed By: Josh Ruben

#8

Underworld (2003)
31%

#8
Adjusted Score: 35806%
Critics Consensus: Though stylish to look at, Underworld is tedious and derivative.
Synopsis: Under cover of night, vampires engage in an age-old battle with their sworn enemies, the Lycans, a clan of violent... [More]
Directed By: Len Wiseman

#7
Adjusted Score: 64021%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A patient (Tatiana Maslany) at a rehabilitation center tries to prevent a young woman (Emily Perkins) from transforming into a... [More]
Directed By: Brett C. Sullivan

#6

The Howling (1981)
73%

#6
Adjusted Score: 75742%
Critics Consensus: The Howling packs enough laughs into its lycanthropic carnage to distinguish it from other werewolf entries, with impressive visual effects adding some bite.
Synopsis: In Los Angeles, television journalist Karen White (Dee Wallace) is traumatized in the course of aiding the police in their... [More]
Directed By: Joe Dante

#5

Dog Soldiers (2002)
80%

#5
Adjusted Score: 80990%
Critics Consensus: Frightening, funny, and packed with action, Dog Soldiers is well worth checking out for genre fans -- and marks writer-director Neil Marshall as a talent to keep an eye on.
Synopsis: During a routine nighttime training mission in the Scottish Highlands, a small squad of British soldiers expected to rendezvous with... [More]
Directed By: Neil Marshall

#4
#4
Adjusted Score: 63375%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Wolves and werewolves lurk throughout the dreams of young Rosaleen (Sarah Patterson), who imagines that she must journey through a... [More]
Directed By: Neil Jordan

#3

Ginger Snaps (2000)
89%

#3
Adjusted Score: 90444%
Critics Consensus: The strong female cast and biting satire of teenage life makes Ginger Snaps far more memorable than your average werewolf movie -- or teen flick.
Synopsis: The story of two outcast sisters, Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) and Brigitte (Emily Perkins), in the mindless suburban town of Bailey... [More]
Directed By: John Fawcett

#2
Adjusted Score: 92658%
Critics Consensus: Terrifying and funny in almost equal measure, John Landis' horror-comedy crosses genres while introducing Rick Baker's astounding make-up effects.
Synopsis: David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne), two American college students, are backpacking through Britain when a large wolf attacks... [More]
Directed By: John Landis

#1

The Wolf Man (1941)
90%

#1
Adjusted Score: 95063%
Critics Consensus: A handsomely told tale with an affecting performance from Lon Chaney, Jr., The Wolf Man remains one of the classics of the Universal horror stable.
Synopsis: When his brother dies, Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney) returns to Wales and reconciles with his father (Claude Rains). While there,... [More]
Directed By: George Waggner

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