Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Werewolf Movies

The lycanthrope (see Werewolves) made its Cinema debut in the two-reel drama The Werewolf (1913), quickly followed by The White Wolf (1914), both based on Native American legends. Although there were four silent films entitled The Wolf Man (1915, 1918, 1924 and 1924), none actually dealt with supernatural lycanthropy. Following the success of Dracula (1930) and Frankenstein (1931), Universal began looking around for another horror hit. French-born writer/director Robert Florey developed a treatment called The Wolf Man, possibly to star Boris Karloff. The idea went through several rewrites, and by the time it reached the screen as Werewolf of London (1935) it was dir Stuart Walker and featured Broadway star Henry Hull as a botanist who transformed into a satanic-looking werewolf (created by the studio's great make-up artist Jack Pierce). With his portrayal of the doomed lycanthrope Lawrence Talbot in The Wolf Man (1941) Lon Chaney Jr finally created a classic character of his own and helped launch the second great cycle of Horror Movies. The movie became the studio's biggest money-maker of the season, and Universal continued Talbot's quest for a cure in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) and the multi-monster marathons House of Frankenstein (1944), House of Dracula (1945) and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948). The phenomenon of The Wolf Man could not be ignored by other studios, who quickly churned out their own variations with The Mad Monster (1942), The Undying Monster (1942, vt The Hammond Mystery UK), Cat People (1942), The Ape Man (1943), Cry of the Werewolf (1944), She-Wolf of London (1946; vt The Curse of the Allenbys UK), The Catman of Paris (1946) and The Creeper (1948). The hirsute star of The Werewolf (1956) was accidentally created by an injection of wolf's blood, and it was a mad doctor who combined his experimental serum with hypnotic regression to transform a troubled tearaway into American International Pictures' I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957). In the confusing Daughter of Dr Jekyll (1957) (see Jekyll and Hyde Movies) it was not Gloria Talbott's titular heroine but a kindly old doctor who was revealed as the scientifically created werewolf. At least the Femme Fatales of Cult of the Cobra (1955) and Cat Girl (1957) both had supernatural explanations for their transformations. Although based on the 1933 novel The Werewolf of Paris by Guy Endore, the setting of Hammer's The Curse of the Werewolf (1960) was changed to Spain. Lon Chaney Jr travelled to Mexico to recreate two of his most famous roles, as a werewolf and a mummy, in Face of the Screaming Werewolf (1960; ot La Casa del Terror). The ageing star also encountered another lycanthrope in the equally dire House of the Black Death (1966), and other cheap-looking werewolves were featured in Werewolf in a Girls' Dormitory (1961; ot Lycanthropus; vt I Married a Werewolf UK), Devil Wolf of Shadow Mountain (1964), Dr Terror's House of Horrors (1965), Dr Terror's Gallery of Horrors (1966) and The Mummy and the Curse of the Jackals (1969). Spanish actor Paul Naschy (Jacinto Molina) first portrayed the doomed El Hombre Lobo, Waldemar Daninsky, in Frankenstein's Bloody Terror (1967; ot La Marca del Hombre; vt Hell's Creatures UK), and he recreated the character through various incarnations in Nights of the Werewolf (1968; ot Las Noches del Hombre Lobo), Dracula vs Frankenstein (1969; ot El Hombre Que Vino del Ummo; vt Assignment Terror US), The Fury of the Wolfman (1970; ot La Furia del Hombre Lobo), The Werewolf vs the Vampire Woman (1970; ot La Noche de Walpurgis; vt Shadow of the Werewolf UK), Dr Jekyll and the Werewolf (1971; ot Doctor Jekyll y el Hombre Lobo), Curse of the Devil (1973; ot El Retorno de Walpurgis), Night of the Howling Beast (1975; ot La Maldición de la Bestia; vt The Werewolf and the Yeti UK), The Craving (1980; ot El Retorno del Hombre Lobo), La Bestia y la Espada Mágica (1983) and Lycantropus (1996). A coven of Satanists transformed Hell's Angels into Werewolves on Wheels (1971), the President's press aide became The Werewolf of Washington (1973), and no one believed the protagonist of The Boy Who Cried Werewolf (1974). Peter Cushing starred in both The Beast Must Die (1974), a horror whodunnit in which the audience had to guess the identity of the werewolf, and Legend of the Werewolf (1974). Director Joe Dante's smart and scary The Howling (1980) was infinitely superior to the six direct-to-video sequels that followed. Another movie that successfully combined lycanthropes and laughs was An American Werewolf in London (1981) dir John Landis, who also turned Michael Jackson into a werewolf for the extended Rock Video Thriller (1983). Wolfen (1981) and Silver Bullet (1985) were based on bestselling books by Whitley Strieber and Stephen King respectively, and The Company of Wolves (1984) used Angela Carter's revisionist Fairytales for its inspiration. Teen Wolf (1985) was a surprise hit, inspiring not only a sequel but a tv series. Jack Nicholson played a Manhattan book editor who transformed in the big-budget Wolf (1994), while Night Stalkers (1995) was made for just $600 with an all-deaf cast. An American Werewolf in Paris, a long-awaited sequel to An American Werewolf in London, was announced in 1996. Werewolves have also been featured in such tvms as Moon of the Wolf (1972), Scream of the Wolf (1974), the French Hugues de Loup (1974), The Werewolf of Woodstock (1974 tvm), Death Moon (1978) and Full Eclipse (1993), while series containing lycanthropic leads include The Munsters (1964-1966), The Munsters Today (1988-1991), Werewolf (1987-1988), She-Wolf of London (1990-1991) and the Hanna-Barbera cartoon Fangface (1978). [SJ]

further reading: Classic Movie Monsters (1978) by Donald F Glut; Il Cinema dei Licantropi (1987) by Riccardo Esposito; The Illustrated Werewolf Movie Guide (1996) by Stephen Jones.

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.