Best Werewolf Movies of All Time, Ranked

Written by The Anand Market

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When it comes to cinematic monsters, werewolves are one of the most iconic yet possibly the most underutilized. The creature is well known to audiences all over the globe, and the werewolf archetype has been featured in a number of films and television series alongside its folklore roots. Yet, in terms of adaptations, it does not get the same volume of stories that vampires, zombies, and ghosts do. Even the Frankenstein monster, one unique to a specific story, has been adapted and reimagined in a variety of ways. Yet the werewolf often seems overlooked despite the creature’s adaptability to fit a wide range of settings and stories even beyond traditional horror.

Update October 25, 2023: Werewolves are one of the most iconic Halloween monsters, so for anyone looking to check out a werewolf movie this season, this article has been updated with more information as well as where you can stream every one of these films.

Filmmakers worldwide have imagined the werewolf and created some amazing movies that have helped shape the creature’s image in pop culture. The werewolf is so malleable it can be a metaphor for puberty or a midlife crisis. It can represent the untapped darkness that awaits in the hearts of humans or even a heroic symbol of freedom. With Halloween fast approaching, these are the best werewolf movies to watch.

1. Van Helsing (2004)

Main Genre: Action

While not the best movie by any stretch of the imagination, Van Helsing is a fun mix of Indiana Jones and James Bond in a late 19th-century setting against the Universal Monsters. It is a mix that should not work but does make for an effective young child’s idea of how these monsters would be imagined.

What Makes It Great:
Notably, the Wolf Man, which while many were disappointed by the use of CGI in contrast to classic practical makeup, here is allowed to move with a strength and speed never before seen on film. This is a werewolf of almost superhuman ability, and when it is needed for the big climactic battle with Dracula it pays off, giving the Wolfman the 21st-century action movie update.

Stream on Tubi

2. Wolf (1994)

In the early 90s, there was a boom of classic movie monsters aimed at a more mature audience, arguably kicked off by the Francis Ford Coppola film from 1991, Bram Stoker’s Dracula. 1994 was a big year for this trend as there were three major movie monsters getting a big mature movie treatment: Interview With a Vampire, adapted from the classic Anne Rice novel Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, and Wolf, which, unlike the previous two, is an original story. From the legendary filmmaker Mike Nichols, whose credits include Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf, The Graduate, and Carnal Knowledge, and star Jack Nicholson, the pedigree alone is enough to make this a werewolf movie worth watching.

What Makes It Great:
However, what makes Wolf stand out is how well it has aged and might have been made too early. Much of the film is about the lead character played by Nicholson’s werewolf abilities developing and learning how to use them. He gets enhanced smell and improved reflexes that feel very much at home within the context of a superhero movie of a hero learning their powers. Spider-Man would be released eight years later, and it feels like Sam Raimi might have drawn some inspiration for Peter Parker developing his powers from Wolf. Which is interesting as Wolf uses the monster as a metaphor for a midlife crisis, as opposed to the traditional puberty metaphor.

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Rent on Apple TV

3. Underworld: The Rise of the Lycans (2009)

Release Date 2009-01-22
Director Patrick Tatopoulos

Main Genre: Action

The Underworld franchise is arguably one of the most successful long-running werewolf franchises, with five movie entries between 2003 and 2017. The films center on an ancient conflict between vampires and werewolves here referred to as Lycans. The third film in the franchise, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is also a prequel to the events of the entire series and shows how the Lycan uprising began.

What Makes It Great:
While not as iconic as the first film, Rise of the Lycans is the only time the franchise puts the focus on the Lycan characters as the protagonist. It also has the fun spectacle of developing a monster movie within the context of a doomed star-crossed lovers’ story and a slave uprising film like Spartacus. Underworld: Rise of the Lycans takes its sometimes over-the-top and silly mythology seriously but treats it with maturity and creates a werewolf movie unlike any other.

Stream on Tubi

4. Werewolf by Night (2022)

Release Date 2022-10-07
Director Michael Giacchino

Main Genre: Action

Based on the Marvel character of the same name, this hour-long Halloween special introduced audiences to not only Jack Russell, aka The Werewolf by Night but also other classic Marvel monsters like Man-Thing and the hunter Elsa Bloodstone.

What Makes It Great:
Werewolf by Night has a sense of style that separates it not just from other entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but also from other werewolf stories. The original version was in black and white, drawing from the 1941 film The Wolf Man to make for a delightful treat. The recently released Werewolf by Night in Color maintains a different kind of magic, with bright colors that remind viewers of the Hammer Horror films. Werewolf by Night is a shining moment for the MCU and tales of werewolves in general, showing they are still relevant and scary today.

Stream on Disney+

best werewolf movies of all time, ranked
Best Werewolf Movies Of All Time, Ranked

5. Dog Soldiers (2002)

Release Date 2002-05-10
Director Neil Marshall

Main Genre: Action

Dog Soldiers was the debut film for Neil Marshall and follows a group of British soldiers during a routine training mission in the Scottish Highlands that goes south when they find a bloody massacre with one lone survivor and discover they are being hunted by werewolves and must survive a night in an old farmhouse until the morning when the full moon fades.

What Makes It Great:
Dog Soldiers is a simple yet brilliant setup and feels like the plot of any classic B-horror picture but excels due to Marshall’s grasp on both the incredible practical werewolf suit, the gore, and drawing influence from other soldiers vs. a monster movie like Predator with the claustrophobia of a movie like Night of the Living Dead.

Stream on Hulu

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6. Ginger Snaps (2000)

Release Date 2000-08-01
Director John Fawcett

Main Genre: Drama

Lycanthropy being used as a metaphor for puberty is nothing new. Most people associate it with Teen Wolf, both the original Michael J. Fox film and the hit MTV series of the same name. However, one of the best uses of the genre convention is the 2000 Canadian horror film Ginger Snaps. Following sisters Bridgette and Ginger (Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabelle, respectively), the movie focuses on sister Ginger’s transformation into a werewolf following her getting bit the night she started her period.

What Makes It Great:
The movie uses the body transformation of a werewolf with the body transformation of puberty and the changing raging hormones with the animalistic side of a beast within, and young girls struggle to cope with these massive changes. Ginger Snaps is a great reminder of how these classic monster archetypes can remain so impactful all these years later, finding the human fears and anxieties at the heart of these monsters.

Stream on Peacock

7. Werewolves Within (2021)

Release Date 2021-07-02
Director Josh Ruben

Main Genre: Horror

One of the more recent werewolf films to make the list, Werewolves Within, is a horror-comedy that is an adaptation of the Ubisoft video game of the same name, which itself is an adaptation of the popular party game Werewolf. The movie takes that simple setup and traps a group of individuals during a winter storm, with the viewer trying to solve which of the colorful cast of characters is a bloodthirsty monster.

What Makes It Great:
Werewolves Within is a hilarious film with some incredible graphic gore and features an all-star cast of comedic talent. The movie was released during the COVID-19 pandemic and got a limited release, but it is one that is worth checking out as it is arguably the best movie based on a video game, a great modern horror comedy, and one of the best werewolf movies ever made.

Stream on Hulu

8. The Wolf Man (1941)

Genres: Action, Horror, Adventure

While Universal Pictures had made the 1935 Werewolf of London, it was the 1941 film The Wolf Man that truly created not only one of the most recognizable movie franchises but also set the template for the werewolf genre for years to come. The story of a normal man, Lawerence Talbot, who is cursed after being bitten by a werewolf to himself transforms into a monster, has a great sense of tragedy to it. The incredible performance by Lon Cheney Jr. gives Talbot an everyman mentality, and he is burdened with this horrible monster inside him that forces him to lose control. This raging monster that dwells within an unassuming and kind-hearted individual has been the basis for a number of popular characters, most notably Bruce Banner, aka The Incredible Hulk.

What Makes It Great:
The Wolf Man is one of the most influential horror movies of all time and can be seen in a variety of films. But even separated from its massive cultural footprint, it is a human story. Of all the Universal monsters, the Wolf Man is the most tragic. The film was remade in 2010 and is set to get another reimagining with Ryan Gosling set to star as the character.

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Stream on Prime Video

9. An American Werewolf in London (1981)

Release Date 1981-08-21
Director John Landis

Main Genre: Horror

1981 saw the release of the two most famous modern werewolf movies just months apart from one another, and it is often a source of debate on which film is the better. An American Werewolf in London is highly regarded for its dark comedic script from Blues Brothers director John Landis and the incredible practical makeup transformation by Rick Baker, winning the first-ever Academy Award for Best Makeup.

What Makes It Great:
However, the element that keeps An American Werewolf in London from the top spot is a combination of the movie’s abrupt ending and the disagreement between Landis and Baker regarding the use of the werewolf. Baker designed the creature with digitigrade legs to be a bipedal creature, yet Landis kept the monster on all fours, taking away the unique werewolf design that Baker created for what could have been a standard wolf. Still, despite that behind-the-scenes disagreement, An American Werewolf in London still stands tall as a high mark in the werewolf genre whose influence can be felt in many horror films, particularly horror comedies.

Stream on RokuTV

10. The Howling (1981)

Release Date 1981-04-10
Director Joe Dante

Main Genre: Horror

An American Werewolf in London might have the groundbreaking makeup transformation and a larger cultural influence, but The Howling’s strong script and great direction by the legendary Joe Dante make it the clear winner. The Howling digs deep into the “wolf” aspect of the werewolf angle, particularly in regard to packs, and imagines an entire community where everyone is a werewolf.

What Makes It Great:
It takes the already horrific premise laid out in films like The Stepford Wives, where an ideal community is not what it seems, and throws a terrifying movie monster into it. Combining that with a suspenseful serial killer at the beginning makes the movie all the more frightening. Plus, special attention needs to be given to the werewolf design itself. The massive bipedal creature towers over everyone, and it clearly separates it from a normal wolf. Nobody would mistake this creature for just a normal wolf. It is something far more monstrous. While The Howling sequels failed to live up to the first film’s incredibly genius premise, the first film still stands as the greatest werewolf movie ever made.

Rent on Apple TV+

These werewolf movies offer a diverse range of stories and styles for any horror enthusiast. Whether you’re into classic horror, dark comedy, or modern adaptations, there’s something for everyone to sink their teeth into this Halloween season. So, grab some popcorn, turn off the lights, and get ready to howl at the moon with these exceptional cinematic werewolf tales.