31 Monsters in 31 Days Bonus: My Favorite Werewolves

A look back on 31 of my favorite monsters could easily contain multiple counts of werewolves, and I wanted to maintain some variety. So here’s a list of lovable lycanthropes, in no particular order.

Waldemar Daninsky, various films

How could a retrospective on favorite wolf men not include Spain’s answer to Lon Chaney Jr.? Paul Naschy played the doomed Waldemar Daninsky in several films of varying quality, always striking a balance between reverence for Universal’s legacy with an eye toward modern exploitation audiences. If you’ve never had the please, try WEREWOLF SHADOW.

David Naughton, AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON

John Landis’ 1981 horror-comedy has a lot going for it, but how well would it be remembered if it didn’t have such a groundbreaking transformation scene? Rick Baker won a well-deserved Oscar, and a place in special fx history, with his show-stopping set-piece. Yet as great as it is I still don’t love it as much as . . .

Robert Picardo as Eddie Quist, THE HOWLING

The other classic werewolf movie of 1981. No disrespect to Landis and Baker, but I much preferred Rob Bottin’s transformation. Coupled with Joe Dante’s direction and John Hora’s cinematography, Bottin’s werewolf had a raw, imperfect quality that Baker’s well-lit perfectionist version lacks. Plus, Picardo turned into a memorable, old-fashioned yet modern two-legged werewolf once he changed.

Everett McGill, SILVER BULLET

Okay, file this one under guilty pleasures, but I’ve always had a soft spot for this 1985 Stephen King adaptation. King’s script and Daniel Attias’s direction won’t win any awards, and McGill frankly isn’t the most effective werewolf, but there’s something about the atmosphere of SILVER BULLET, the pall of death that hangs of a bucolic small town, that I’ve always found enjoyable. Throw in a relatively restrained Gary Busey and an always welcome Terry O’Quinn, and you’ve got cinematic comfort food that goes down easy, if not satisfying.

Mark Willis, RETURN OF THE VAMPIRE

Another guilty pleasure, and an old school one at that. 1944’s RETURN OF THE VAMPIRE is a pleasant enough riff on Universal’s successful franchise, with Mark Willis playing a werewolf manservant to Bela Lugosi’s not-Dracula Dracula. A wolf man so adorable you’d like to pet him may not be the most efficient monster, but it certainly adds to the character’s pathos.

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