The Best and Worst Werewolf Transformations

From The Howling to the howlingly awful, we pick the hits and the hairballs...


Benicio Del Toro's The Wolfman might be getting mauled by critics baying for blood on a full moon, but there's one thing we're pretty sure everyone can get behind: the return of make-up master Rick Baker, the man whose iconic work on An American Werewolf in London set the standard for man-wolf transformation -- and one that's arguably yet to be surpassed. As the new film shows, CGI morphing can't quite replicate the physical aspects of a prosthetic shapeshift -- pounds of make-up looks like it hurts, dammit, which is what you'd imagine becoming a wolf would feel like. So to honour Rick -- and indulge our primal love of watching men become savage beasts -- here are our picks for the best and worst werewolf transformations in movies. Sparklepooch included.


THE BEST



An American Werewolf in London (1981)

"I didn't mean to call you meatloaf, Jack!" John Landis' incomparable scene is a mixture of icky body horror and wry humour, with David Naughton's nightmarish transformation at the hands of Rick Baker's prosthetics scored to the crooning "Blue Moon". The mix of comedy and freakish visuals makes it that much more uneasy -- and, like the best of wolfman moments, this looks physically unbearable. Landis and Baker, of course, went on to repeat their trick for Michael Jackson's "Thriller" clip -- albeit in a campier, '50s style. See them both here.





The Company of Wolves (1984)

GAAAAAAAARRRRGGGGGGGGHH! That's about all we can say about this. Where most werewolf transformations involve the man bursting forth from his skin, this unfortunate gentleman actually peels his own skin off and then transforms -- resulting in a blood-covered wolf beast that's not for the squeamish. Happy nightmares, kids!






The Howling (1981) / The Howling III (1987)

1981's other great American wolf pic was the work of Rob Bottin (the man behind the unforgettable terrors unleashed in John Carpenter's The Thing), with Rick Baker consulting. The transformations are thus geared toward outright nightmare creature horror, with weird elongated faces that are as amusing as they are frightening. But nothing could top the WTF weirdness of the otherwise awful sequel Howling III: The Marsupials, which, among such delights as a were-supial pup bursting forth from a human mother's womb, offers up this feral transformation. Is that a werewolf or a pig man? Director Philippe Mora actually does a nice job in this scene -- check the negative exposures and epileptic TV screens flashing.




Bad Moon (1996)

By the mid-'90s CGI had started to dictate werewolf transformations, bringing us laughable atrocities like the subway scene in An American Werewolf in Paris, and later rubbish like Cursed. But this overlooked wolf movie manages to get it pretty right -- not least because it's mixed in with some old-school fur and flapping puppet jaws, which seal the deal in this scene's killer final moment. Also priceless for Michael Pare's line preceding it: "You shoulda listened to the dog, Janet!"





Silver Bullet (1985)

This underrated Stephen King-scripted flick has its fans among werewolf aficionados -- trust us, they're out there -- and justifiably so. This early transformation from the film shows a deft mix of classic horror makeup and post-American Werewolf ingenuity; plus, it offers the particular pleasure of watching a one-eyed priest transform into a wolf. Naturally, he's carrying a baseball bat. As priest-wolfs tend to do.






The Monster Squad (1987)

"Aroooo, operator?" Short but wonderfully sweet, this earns its spot for efficiency -- and Method mouth foaming. In just over 20 seconds he's done, crashing through a phone booth door and staggering into the night with a classic howl. Hope he called collect.




Comments

goslar21

Dylan Styman

Aww man... where is "Dog Soldiers"? Best werewolf movie EVER!

Feb 12 - 09:48 PM

Luke Goodsell

Luke Goodsell

Dog Soliders is awesome... but we were focussed on the transformations themselves, not which was the 'best' film. Sorry!

Feb 12 - 09:53 PM

Brendan M.

Brendan McMahon

Agreed. And where IS Dog Soldiers????
Definitely the best werewolf movie made. Sean Pertwee deserves and Oscar.

Feb 13 - 02:44 AM

butterz

butterz bunnies

(In reply to Golslar) The movie 'dog soldiers' didn't actually show any good transformations, and this is best werewolf transformations, not movies. But i agree dog soldiers is the best werewolf movie

Feb 21 - 10:36 PM

Shantak

David Finnila

Dog Soldiers is awesome, but I have to still say American Werewolf in London is the best werewolf movie.

The Howling is also very good for the time and the transformations were excellent.

I am surprised Blood and Chocolate wasn't on the list as bad CGI transformations

Jun 4 - 01:57 PM

Luke Goodsell

Luke Goodsell

Dog Soliders is awesome... but we were focussed on the transformations themselves, not which was the 'best' film. Sorry!

Feb 12 - 09:53 PM

inactive user

Jared King

"Silver Bullet" kinda sucks...But awesome list!

Feb 12 - 10:41 PM

Apple t.

Apple ton

Albert Finney is a New York cop investigating some mysterious deaths who uncovers the wolfen underground. Director Michael Wadleigh (of Woodstock fame) developed a special day-for-night shooting process to convey the nocturnal point of view of the wolfen killers.
http://www.articlesbase.com/health-articles/acai-max-cleanse-review-risk-free-trial-1854829.html

Feb 12 - 11:19 PM

Nikolai S.

Nikolai Stoyanov

What about the transformation in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I think that was the best one ever.

Feb 12 - 11:29 PM

LouAnn C.

LouAnn Caron

You're joking. That was so awful it was painful. It looked like something from a Scooby-Doo movie. I guess Cuaron spent too much on Buckbeak and there was nothing left for poor Prof. Lupin's werewolf scene.

Feb 13 - 06:32 PM

Ben K.

Ben Kinder

the were wolf transformation in Harry Potter was good unfortunately the were wolf looked like crap at the end.

Jul 4 - 04:41 PM

RJ Smoove

Ryan Rutherford

Personally, I like the Underworld transformation. They are hardly ever quick like that. Twilight? I'll just sound like a hypocrit and say that **** was wack

Feb 12 - 11:31 PM

Matt Alex S.

Matias Sabaj

I almost crap in my pants with The Howling and the final of Bad Moon (when the werewolf suddenly looks directly to the camera,I freaked out!)

Feb 12 - 11:32 PM

saloneboy26

Bai Samba

Where's the transformation in Trick R Treat. That was pretty damn impressive. It was definately better than the transformation in Silver Bullet.

Feb 12 - 11:39 PM

blair k.

blair knight

I thought the transformations in silver bullet in the church scene were not done well. the movie itself is alright but they should of worked on that more.

Mar 19 - 08:48 AM

saloneboy26

Bai Samba

Where's the transformation in Trick R Treat. That was pretty damn impressive. It was definately better than the transformation in Silver Bullet.

Feb 12 - 11:41 PM

Steve R.

Jared Ashkenaz

you're right, that was a good one in trick r treat

Feb 13 - 01:20 AM

Yasmin

Yasmin Vought

the tranformation in the psych hospital in wolfman is pretty fantastical

Feb 13 - 12:14 AM

blattman

Mike Greenblatt

How was the movie itself. I want to see it for Rick Baker, but am not hearing good things.

Feb 13 - 01:48 AM

Serious Lee

Serious Lee

i agree! i didn't give that movie the highest rating- but that was my favorite scene.

Feb 19 - 01:04 AM

Steve R.

Jared Ashkenaz

you're right, that was a good one in trick r treat

Feb 13 - 01:20 AM

blattman

Mike Greenblatt

How was the movie itself. I want to see it for Rick Baker, but am not hearing good things.

Feb 13 - 01:48 AM

BatsInTheBelfry

Derek Meadors

I have to say, Curse of the Queerwolf is one of the best bad movies ever. It is absolutely hilarious, if you can find it, watch it.

Feb 13 - 02:39 AM

CineMonkey

Mauro Rivera

lol, the twilight "werewolf" didn't even look like a werewolf, it just looked liked a bigger than usual wolf! A crappy,non-creepy, CGI wolf! There was nothing half-human about it. All I got to say apart from that is good list. But I would have included the "Trick R' Treat" transformation.

Feb 13 - 02:43 AM

Julian S.

Julian Soto

Hey, I hate twilight as much as next guy. But, to be fair, I have to tell you that the twilight "werewolves" aren't really werewolve. They're shape shifters. Which means that they're people who turn into big wolves. As opposed to werewolves,who are people who turn into half wolf half human monsters.
I can't believe I just defended twilight. I hate my life.
P.S. My sister dragged my to that stupid movie. I did not go by choice!
But,at leat there were some atractive girls in/at the movie.

Feb 13 - 09:54 AM

Dawn E.

Dawn Exactly

Actually, if you look up werewolf lore and legend, as much as it pains me to say this....Twilight got it right. The oldest legends involving werewolves are about people who can change into the wolf at will, not just in a full moon. And they change into the wolf completely...not a half human/wolf hybrid thing.

Jun 16 - 07:43 AM

Shawn Matthews

Shawn Matthews

Not in the oldest lore. Wolf-like, but not wolf.

May 25 - 09:29 PM

Brendan M.

Brendan McMahon

Agreed. And where IS Dog Soldiers????
Definitely the best werewolf movie made. Sean Pertwee deserves and Oscar.

Feb 13 - 02:44 AM

flava-flav

DANNY JOHNSON

I agree that these guys missed one in dog soldiers for the biggest meanest werewolves ever pluse there was a single transformation which occurred within the house.


best werewolf movie ive ever seen minus Wolfstein

Feb 13 - 03:45 AM

bingo007

navaneetharan kamaraj

prisoner of azkaban transformation is left out.it should have been no.1.

Feb 13 - 04:44 AM

SmokingAce

Blake Jennings

When I thought of horrible wolf transformations New Moon instantly can to my mind. Nothing like leaping Aeropostale models turning into giant saint bernards.

Feb 13 - 04:49 AM

dudemanyo

Ben Tracy

American Werewolf in London is in the right spot. That one set the bar for every werewolf transformation ever since. But I gotta say, you have to add to the Worst List the American Werewolf in Paris. Those were just awful.

Feb 13 - 04:54 AM

greg b.

greg baltzer

For an awesome Wolf back to Man transformation watch Fright Night. I wish that had been included.

Feb 13 - 05:11 AM

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