When I think ’80’s werewolf movies’ The Howling and An American Werewolf in London are really the only two that come to mind. I mean, I know there’s The Wolfen (also released in 1981), but I actually don’t think of it as a werewolf movie. There are also more Howling movies after the first one. I’ve watched… five of them, I think? I don’t really remember much about them other than Christopher Lee and Sybil Danning in the second, and that I didn’t hate the fourth one. There was also a sequel to Landis’ film called American Werewolf in Paris, which was… not very good.
I’ve always enjoyed the werewolf mythology – particularly the movie variety, with all of the great material that Curt Siodmak added to the 1941 Wolf Man film from Universal, including the whole “vulnerable to silver bullets” thing. Those two 80’s werewolf films were always my top two though. And if these days I come down on the side of An American Werewolf in London being the better film, it’s the lycanthropes of Joe Dante’s movie that are still my absolute favorites. There’s just something about Rob Bottin’s design – lanky torsos, long legs and ears, and a fairly good (if bladder-filled) transformation. Most importantly for me, they stand on two legs – that seems a requirement for a real werewolf, I think. I just like them better than the stumpier final design in An American Werewolf in London. (Though nobody beats that transformation sequence – Rick Baker just hits it out of the park.)
I’ve enjoyed werewolf movies that came out since these two (Ginger Snaps for instance) and a few that came before – though I’ve yet to see the Hammer film with Oliver Reed – but I can’t think of a design or effects that struck me as much as these two films. How about you? What’s your favorite werewolf film, and which is your favorite design?