The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

Fright Week 2013: Take A Bite Out of These Lesser-Known Wolfman Flicks

Written by: Paula Haifley, CC2K Horror Chick

So, you’ve seen American Werewolf in London, you’ve (hopefully) also seen The Howling and the original Wolf Man. Here are a few werewolf films you may not have heard of that are worth checking out. (And if you haven’t seen the three films listed above, its not a bad idea to start with those.)

1) Bad Moon (1996) – available on Amazon VOD
A personal favorite. Starring hunky Michael Pare, Mariel Hemingway and a super adorable dog, Bad Moon is about a hunky photojournalist (Pare) who just wants to do his hunky job. Yet fate has hairer plans. While on a hunky assignment in Nepal (possibly a nod to Werewolf of London’s Tibet-set opening, another great film if you haven’t seen it) Pare’s girlfriend is killed by a werewolf, and he is bitten. Now he just wants to be a hunky loner, and parks his trailer in the woods not too far from his sister’s house, where she lives with her son and their dog Thor (also the name of the book on which this film is based). Thor senses that something isn’t right with Pare, and thus begins a dog vs. hunky werewolf power struggle. Written and directed by Eric Red, who also wrote the script for Near Dark and The Hitcher.  

2) The Curse of the Werewolf (1961)  – available on Amazon VOD  
The Hammer studios sweaty, overly-tanned version of the Wolfman tale. Very loosely based on Guy Endore’s novel The Werewolf of Paris (which is recommended for its surrealistic imagery, bizarre werewolf creation story, and one character’s obsession with foretelling her own death), it’s set in 18th century Spain and stars Oliver Reed as the Wolfman. He’s a tragic figure, a werewolf merely by the circumstances of his birth instead of being attacked while making love to someone in a tent (as in Bad Moon, Werewolf in a Women’s Prison, and every Jason not-in-space movie.) It’s everything you want from a 60’s Gothic love story/werewolf tale: tragedy, amazing effects makeup, and lots of men in blousy white shirts and women with ample cleavage.   

3) The Werewolf (1956) – available on Amazon VOD or on DVD from Netflix
This is one of those “evil scientist experiments on hapless victim, turning him into a monster” atom-age films. (See also I Was A Teenage Werewolf, Monster on Campus, and Blood of Dracula for non-werewolf variations of the same tale. Yes, you read right, Michael Landon was technically NOT a teenage werewolf but a teenage reversion-to-a-caveman.) A normal guy driving on a remote mountain road crashes his car, is rescued by two bad scientists who take advantage of his amnesia by experimenting on him. He turns into a wolfman and runs through the snowy woods in a flannel shirt. This one is high on the cheese factor, but the transformation sequences (which, like in The Wolfman are done through a series of dissolves) are pretty great.

4) Werewolf in a Women’s Prison (2006) – available on DVD from Netflix.
I can’t in any good conscience call this movie anything more than “enjoyable.” It embraces all of the standard tropes of a women in prison film: cruel guards, a sadistic lesbian warden, sexual assault (both shown and threatened), bad acting, miniscule budget, and lots of nudity. It also has some great blood spurting effects, a really fun transformation, and lots and lots of dismemberment. Like, pretty much everyone gets dismembered. If you see an extra in the background for five seconds with intact limbs, chances are they’re not gonna stay that way. It was directed by micro-budget auteur Jeff Leroy, who also wrote/directed/rat wrangled the amazing cheese-fest Rat Scratch Fever. And watch for the “girl running through the hanging sheets” scene, which is probably the longest running through sheets scene in film history.

All of these films are howlingly fun, so take a bite out of one on your pack’s next movie night.