Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Werewolves-The Genre Defined!

Hello folks,
I would like to thank my friend at Angry puppy films on this great take on all things within the werewolf genre,Be sure to check out his great site Angry puppy films. and follow him on Twitter for great updates!!
Thanks my friend,
Jonny T!


I love a good werewolf movie. The problem is, I like a bad werewolf movie too. Keep that in mind as you read this and judge accordingly. My first screenplay was a modern werewolf story. Hopefully, someday I will get a chance to make the film. I wanted to take a moment and go over the genre a bit and Jonny was kind enough to provide a forum.

Firstly, who am I? I’m an American independent film-maker, writer, producer and a lifelong horror fan. What makes me the guy to ask about this? I love horror. I write horror. I’m one of you. You know the crazy guys in Hyde Park wearing sombreros and shouting their opinions to all within earshot? I’m in Texas and shouting in the UK.

Let’s start off with defining what good werewolf movies have in common.

Great settings.

The shadowy moors of An American Werewolf in London (1981) sets a creepy mood that forms a perfect contrast as our two heroes run in the dark to their deaths. Even the pub The Slaughtered Lamb adds to the establishment of a feeling of impending doom. The original Wolf Man (1941) accomplished the same thing on a sound stage with brilliant use of lighting and shadows. Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001) managed to capitalize on historical events and make even a sunny country-side scene exceptionally scary. A creepy setting can make anything scary for a moment but only for that moment.


Watching our hero change from man to beast can be brilliant as it was in the earlier An American Werewolf in London and to a lesser degree in the more recent Wolfman (2010). The transformation needs to be believable and not pull the viewer out of the suspended reality of a movie. Watching Benicio del Torro’s fingers snap in Wolfman elicited groans from audiences as they were pulled into the scene. However, in The Howling (1981) the transformation scene in the theater is classic because of what isn’t seen as much as what is seen.


Let’s just admit it, we love gore. A good attack can scare you witless or leave you wondering where the good movie is playing. Dog Soldiers (2002) had great attacks throughout. A sudden lunge from the shadows and our heroes are wolf chow. The attacks can be brutally violent as in Wolfman or subtly implied as in the Howling.

Comedy is not necessary

When good ideas go wrong. The Howling 2: Your Sister is a Werewolf suffers from lack of commitment to horror. Comedy can help as it did in an American Werewolf in London or completely ruin a movie as it did the Howling 2:Your Sister is a Werewolf (1985). Don’t get me wrong, Sybil Danning naked could redeem almost any movie, but this one suffered to the point that even she couldn’t pull this thing out of the clearance bin.


Since I mentioned it, let’s talk about nudity for a moment. I am a heterosexual male. I like naked women. They get my attention every time. The film-maker in me says that the nudity has to be relevant to the plot, but honestly, sometimes that isn’t necessary. Monica Belucci’s nude scenes in Brotherhood of the Wolf weren’t necessary but they were greatly appreciated. Who can forget Elisabeth Brooks in the original Howling standing naked and wild? David Naughton waking up naked in the zoo caused many appreciative stares in An American Werewolf in London. Sex and horror have gone hand in hand forever and probably will continue so folks need to get used to it and move along.

I don’t hate CGI. I prefer special effects to be done in camera, but in the real world of film making sometimes that doesn’t work. Cost and risks can make it necessary to use a computer instead of risking cast and certain death. It is here to stay, so we all need to get over our dislike and accept the fact.

There’s more but Jonny wanted some content and not a book. Want to make a great werewolf movie? Watch the ones I mention above. Get a character that people can relate to and have them cursed. Then unleash them on their loved ones and general population. Do not have them turn into hairy funny versions of themselves.

Werewolves are about the beast within each of us finding a way to get out into the world. Though we don’t like to admit it, each of us has the propensity to give into our wild side. Freud called it the id, but for here, it is our inner wolf. Werewolf movies can be great horror or train wrecks.

Great Werewolf films

Wolf Man (1941)

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001)

Dog Soldiers (2002)

Underworld (2003)

Skinwalkers (2006)

Wolfman (2010)

Bad Werewolf films

Really? Did you expect me to slam someone’s favorite film? Someone put their heart and soul into making that film, so cut them some slack. Yeah, I know I was kind of harsh on the Howling 2, but really, fur on Sybil’s naked chest? Yes, I am holding a grudge against one scene. Christopher Lee was brilliant as usual. Ok, I admit I bought the DVD as well.

Follow me on twitter or just sound off with your opinion. I know that I have missed some here so let me know what I missed. I am @angrypuppyfilms and I thank you for your time and Jonny for loaning me the soapbox.

Classic transformation scene from"An American werewolf in London"

1 comment:

  1. "Brotherhood of the Wolf" is tied with the original "Wolfman" as my all-time favorite werewolf film. The original "Wolfman" earns its place for, of course, its star and as an example of true skill in the B&W age. The thing about "Brotherhood" is that it does what all great monster movies should do; focus on the characters and use the monster to advance the story. If you really watch Brotherhood, you'll notice the wolves get really very little screentime in relation to the whole. There's far more human-on-human violence than the wolves are responsible for. There are several layers to the film, especially concerning the nobility of the day and the brotherhood represented by Gregoire and Mani being greater than the titular organization, but as my good friend Angry Puppy noted, this isn't the place for a book. If you haven't seen either of these films, you're missing some great cinema.