On the day when An American Werewolf In London, which is famous for its excellent werewolf transformation scene, turns 42 years old, who wouldn't want to discuss werewolves? It's the perfect day for a list of some of horror's scariest werewolves and fantastic werewolf special effects. An American Werewolf in London set the bar for modern werewolf movies and epic transformations. Fangoria loves a good werewolf story, and the very first issue of Fangoria featured Rick Baker, one of the greatest special effects designers and artists ever, talking about his work on An American Werewolf in London. You can read it on the website.

  • The Howling (1981)

    Image Credit: IMDB

    The Howling is also hitting its 42nd anniversary since it was released the same year as An American Werewolf in London, namely 1981. Rick Baker was the original special effects artist on The Howling but left the film to work on American Werewolf instead. John Sayles and Joe Dante co-wrote the film, and Joe Dante directed the film. Rob Bottin (pronounced BO-TEEN), another legendary special effects artist, took over and delivered great werewolf makeup effects. Bottin's most innovative technique was using air bladders underneath the werewolf makeup that he could pump up with air to create an effect where the skin seemed to expand. Bottin was responsible for the incredible makeup artistry in John Carpenter's film The Thing, and you can bet that Fangoria has an interview with Rob Bottin about that classic film.

  • Ginger Snaps (2000)

    Image Credit: IMDB

    Ginger Snaps is a different kind of werewolf film. It concerns a teenage girl, Ginger, who becomes a werewolf. Most werewolf tales are about men, and Canadian director John Fawcett wanted to tell a transformative film with girls as the main characters. He convinced a female writer, Karen Walton, that he wanted to make a horror film with a female perspective. Paul Jones Effects Studio did the effects for the film, and Kathrine Isabelle, who plays Ginger, told stories of how the practical makeup took five hours to apply and another two hours to remove. The makeup and Isabelle's performance make the werewolf Ginger so distinctive and beautiful in a way that no other film has really achieved. You can read an archived review of Ginger Snaps, part of the Gingold Files, at Fangoria now.

  • Fright Night (1985)

    Image Credit: Columbia Pictures

    Okay, you are thinking, "Wait a minute, Fright Night is a movie about vampires. What gives?" In the film, written and directed by Tom Holland, the character of Evil Ed turns into a wolf, showing one of the less acknowledged powers of the vampire, shape-shifting. Stephen Geoffrey, who plays Evil Ed, spent 18 hours in make-up for the werewolf transformation and death scene. Richard Edlund was head of make-up effects, and artist Mark Bryan Wilson worked on that specific make-up transformation. The difference between this scene and nearly all other werewolf transformations is that Evil Ed instantly turns into an actual wolf off-camera. The change takes place after vampire hunter Peter Vincent mortally wounds him. He slowly and pitifully transforms back into his more human form. It is not only a terrific reverse transformation; Stephen Geoffrey's performance makes the scene an emotional highlight of the film. It is similar to the final change of Lon Chaney in The Wolf Man. Fangoria Issue number 47 has an excellent article for the original release of Fright Night. in their internet archive.

  • The Wolf Man (1941)

    Image Credit: IMDB

    We can't neglect the classic make-up of one of the greatest Universal Monsters, The Wolf Man, directed by George Waggner and starring Lon Chaney Jr. Hollywood studio make-up artist Jack Pierce originally designed the make-up used in The Wolf Man for another film and kept it in reserve when it was not used. The Wolf Man does not contain the type of transformation sequence you see in most werewolf films today. The effects were more subtle and done through a lap-dissolve process. In one scene, Chaney removes his socks, and you see his feet become larger and hairier. In the end, when he is killed, there is a reverse transformation back into his human form. Fangoria has an article about the origins of The Wolf Man and screenwriter Curt Siodmak's work on the script. Check it out!

  • Silver Bullet (1985)

    Image Credit: IMDB

    Silver Bullet, a werewolf story from Stephen King, directed by Dan Attias and an uncredited Don Coscarelli, has a creature make-up design from make-up effects and creature designer Carlo Rambaldi. The story goes that King wanted the werewolf to look more like a wolf, and his idea was much less fantastical than other films, to the chagrin of the producer Dino de Laurentiis. Rambaldi and King stuck to their guns, resulting in a more realistic monster that looked more like an animal than a morphing of a human being and a wolf. Another scene with more fantasy is when the Reverend, the concealed werewolf, has a dream where his congregation starts turning into werewolves.

  • WolfCop (2014)

    Image Credit: IMDB

    WolfCop is a comedic Canadian horror film about a cop who, you guessed it, becomes a werewolf. It is another werewolf film that uses practical effects rather than CGI to effect the werewolf look. The transformation of Lou Garou, the WolfCop in question, is hilarious and scary at the same time, especially if you are a guy. It answers one of our weirdest questions about what happens to all of a human being's body parts when they go wolf in the funniest way. In case you are wondering what I might suggest in this family magazine, he's going to the bathroom when he turns for the first time. Self-taught effects artist and designer Emersen Ziffle designed the make-up, giving the wolf greenish skin and a smooth and more recognizable face with a wild mane of hair. The film was directed by Lowell Dean and stars Leo Fafard, Amy Matysio, and Sarah Lind. Sarah Lind starred in one of 2022's best horror films, A Wounded Fawn, and you can watch the Convo X Fango episode with Sarah Lind and Josh Ruben on the website.

  • The Curse of the Werewolf (1961)

    Image Credit: IMDB

    This Hammer Horror werewolf film is much more old school and closer to The Wolf Man than to The Howling, but I still have great affection for it. It does star Oliver Reed in his first feature film starring role, so that's a big help, Terrance Fisher directed it, and Hammer Studios films are always a great watch. Roy Ashton, who worked for Hammer Films as a make-up designer, was very proud of the make-up, and it must be said that it looks excellent on Reed's face. Ashton said he was not influenced by Jack Pierce's work on Werewolf of London.

  • Dog Soldiers (2002)

    Image Credit: IMDB

    Dog Soldiers, directed by Neil Marshall, is a beloved action-oriented horror film. Marshall wanted to stay away from CGI effects and stick with practical effects and avoid the trope of the sad, cursed werewolf. In this film, the werewolves are hungry hunters with no moral quandaries versus a tough bunch of soldiers. The special effects make-up and animatronics are by Image FX. The other big difference is that the werewolves are giants, with tall man-shaped bodies with huge canine heads. It gives them a weird, otherworldly quality that many other cinematic werewolves don't have. The film stars Sean Pertwee, Liam Cunningham, Kevin McKidd, and Emma Cleasby. You can read about the book about the making of Dog Soldiers at Fangoria now.

  • Werewolf by Night (2022)

    Image Credit: Marvel Studios

    Michael Giacchino's TV special, Werewolf by Night, is an example of a modern werewolf film that used the retro style of the werewolf and monsters films from the 1940s in modern times. The films stars Gael García Bernal, Laura Donnelly, and Harriet Sansom Harris. The make-up artist is Ellen Arden, who also worked on the Fear Street franchise. The touchstone for the look of Bernal's character Jack Russell is the design from Werewolf of London created by Universal master Jack Pierce, and while you can still see the actor's face, the wolf is more hairy than usual. It's a wonderful-looking werewolf.

  • The Company of Wolves (1984)

    Image Credit: IMDB

    The fairy tale horror film has a lot of werewolves in it. Chris Tucker, the make-up artist who had done the make-up effects on The Elephant Man, wanted to use more innovative ideas in the film. There is the transformation of one werewolf who rips his skin off and another where the wolf's snout comes through a person's mouth. It really puts the fantasy aspect of this dark fairytale forward. The Company of Wolves has four different stories within the main story. It was directed by Neil Jordan and stars Angela Lansbury, David Warner, and Micha Bergese.

  • Trick 'r Treat (2007)

    Image Credit: IMDB

    Michael Dougherty's Halloween delight is an anthology film with six stories. The fourth is Surprise Party which stars Anna Paquin as Laurie and Dylan Baker as Principal Steven Wilkins. The surprise is that the beautiful young women who have invited many men to a party in the woods are actually werewolves looking for their dinner. The special effects artist on Trick 'r Treat was Bob Comer, who Dougherty called a genius. The werewolf's transformation uses the idea of werewolves ripping off their skin to transform and have golden eyes. While the concept has been used before, the execution of the scene is flawless.

  • Werewolves Within (2021)

    Image Credit: IMDB

    Werewolves Within is a personal favorite partly because of the performance of the actress Milana Vayntrub as Cecily Moore and the reaction of Sam Richardson as Finn Wheeler. The transformation is short but savage and effective. Constantine Sekeris created the werewolf's design, and special effects makeup is by Louie Zakarian, and what we see looks nice and scary. Sometimes, especially in filmmaking, less really is more. You can read the exclusive interview with the actor Harvey Guillén from the film at Fangoria.

Similar Posts