Rise of the Lycanthropes, the best Werewolf films and their transformations.
So lets talk about Werewolves. I often think Werewolves get a bum deal, there are Vampires and Zombie shows everywhere at the moment and Werewolves are often portrayed as an inferior supernatural being or the, (sorry I have to do it), underdog. I love Vampires and I’m partial to a Zombie flick from time to time, but please give me a good Werewolf transformation any day. It has been done numerous times before but I’m going to share my favourite Werewolf movies and transformations.
Above I mentioned Vampires and Zombie shows being everywhere at the moment, however I do believe we have a comeback on our hands with the likes of new supernatural dramas ‘Teen Wolf’ and ‘Hemlock Grove’ appearing recently. So I am going to begin my choices with newcomer ‘Hemlock Grove’.
I haven’t had chance to watch this programme yet but I am very excited to do so and even more so after I watched the clip of its Werewolf transformation.
To say it’s gruesome is an understatement but I don’t feel it is incredibly scary. This is not detrimental to the scene though and some folk, I’m sure, will find it scary. I just got a different vibe from it. I found it raw and exhilarating and I thought it worked perfectly in portraying the creatures wild and primal, literal breakout from the constraint’s of its human form.
The jury is out on whether this will rate amongst my favourite Werewolf shows but I had to include it on the basis of this clip alone.
One of my favourite Werewolf movies has to be ‘Dog Soldiers’. ‘Dog Soldiers’ is, quite frankly, the dog’s b******k’s, it is bloody, gruesome, clever and incredibly funny. Now there is no, seen, transformation in this film but the Werewolf costumes are, in my opinion, pretty good. They have used stilts in the legs to make them incredibly tall and it makes them look so intimidating looming over the, now dwarfed soldiers. I like the fact that, unlike other Werewolf movies the Werewolves are cunning and seem to have a plan all along. A truly genius film.
An American Werewolf in London
Next up is probably the most predictable, ‘An American Werewolf in London’. Predictable yes, but rightly so. The effects in this film were way beyond their time and even now when I watch it, it still blows me away! The scene is perfect, it doesn’t conform to the horrors of yester-year, were everything has to be dimly lit and only gives you a glimpse of what is happening. It is in your face, glaringly bold and a contradiction of the rest of the movie where less is more works.
It’s in a well-lit, bog standard living room, no shadows or clever lighting to hide behind. there is a jolly song on in the background as if this could be happening in the next flat or house to you. The best bit of this clip for me, apart from the effects, is when David, half way through his transformation, looks to the camera and reaches out in pain and desperation. It gives the audience an uncomfortable moment as they are unwittingly drawn into the scene.
Very similar to ‘An American Werewolf in London’ is ‘The Howling’. The two films are often pitted against each other in the, which is the best werewolf transformation, competition. Personally I prefer the former but its not hard to see why people compare the two. Rick Baker was set to do the effects in ‘The Howling’ but left to work on ‘An American Werewolf in London’. He handed the reigns on the special effects in ‘The Howling’ over to his assistant Rob Bottin, hence why the scenes are similar in techniques used. The lighting is different in ‘The Howling’ though, shadow is created for a creepier atmosphere and stop-motion animation is also used to aid the overall effect.
The films were released at similar times too futher adding to the comparisons made over the years. Again it is very good effects for the time and is quite a long transformation, as in AAWIL it leaves nothing to the imagination, showing the full-on transformation, only cutting away to show the understandable distress of the potential victim. The Werewolves in this film can turn at will and are definately not the underdog in this scenario, consiously using there powers to maim and murder. Classic horror.
Being Human (UK)
Another TV show now and one of my favourites, ‘Being Human’. ‘Being Human’ was a brilliant show and George probably my favourite Werewolf character of all. Similar to David in AAWIL, he was turned after an attack whilst on holiday, happening along with the death of an innocent in the process. The characters cycle is also very similar, transforming at the time of the full moon in excruciating pain and having no recollection of the previous nights escapades.
I think ‘Being human’ did the transformation scenes brilliantly and Russell Tovey who played George was fantastic in delivering the obvious pain and fear this otherwise gentle, kind man had to go through each month. Fans warmed to George as he dealt with his curse by trying to keep together his disfunctional adopted family of Vampire, ghost and Werewolf, often with hilarious consequences. If you haven’t already, watch it.
‘The Wolfman’ (2010) is a great film. Dark, bloody and nostalgic. It is obviously a remake of the 1941 film of the same name but with some CGI oomph! Yes the transformation process is quite obviously CGI but what CGI it is! My favourite scene in the hospital is brilliant with the smug doctor, who’s been torturing the main character for weeks to cure him of his dillusions of being a werewolf, taunting him before the full moon appears triggering the change and leading to him getting his just desserts.
The benefit of CGI is evident as you can do things to the body with computer imagery that prosthetics and robotics just cant achieve. It is visually stunning and is such a great moment in the film. This, coupled with fantastic special effects make-up by AAWIL Rick Baker, is why I love this film and this scene. Below is a video of the hospital scene and a video of the Wolfman VFX technical breakdown.
I do have more favourite Werewolf movies like Underworld, Gingersnaps, Silver Bullet and tv show Teen Wolf but I have picked ones with the best, in my opinion, transformation scenes. Dog Soldiers, I know, doesnt have a transformation scene but its a great film, which is why I included it. I hope you enjoy watching the videos and I hope you join me in my appreciation of the often over-sighted classic supernatural being that is the Werewolf. Power to the wolfman!