Looking for a howling good time? Guest writer DAVID GELMINI tells us his top five British werewolf films which everyone should see
The people of Britain have always been fascinated by werewolves, which explains why there have been so many brilliant werewolf films originating from the UK.
It also comes as no surprise to learn that filmmakers have been bringing werewolf stories to our screens for so long, since the idea of a human being who transforms into a wolf-like creature during the night of a full moon is certainly an endearing concept.
This list examines five of the best British werewolf movies to have been released over the years, and werewolf fans who have yet to experience any of these great films will certainly need to track them down immediately.
1. The Curse of the Werewolf (1961)
Released in 1961, The Curse of the Werewolf was notably the only werewolf film ever to be produced by Hammer Studios.
It was directed by the legendary Terence Fisher, who also directed an assortment of other Hammer classics, with John Elder providing the screenplay.
Despite being shot at Bray Studios in Berkshire and featuring a predominantly British cast, the film actually takes place entirely in Spain.
The Spanish setting was chosen because the lavish sets featured throughout The Curse of the Werewolf were originally manufactured for a planned drama about the Spanish Inquisition called The Rape of Sabena, which was ultimately never produced.
And the extravagant sets clearly allowed The Curse of the Werewolf to resemble a much more expensive production, regardless of its modest budget.
Fans often praise the movie for its grandiose look and feel, since Hammer clearly made the most of the resources which were readily available at the time.
The film starred Oliver Reed as Leon Corledo, a man who is cursed with lycanthropy due to the fact that he was born on Christmas Day.
Although Leon was only shown in his werewolf form for a few minutes towards the end, audiences would never forget the sheer terror they experienced when they witnessed his shocking transformation.
And the spectacular makeup effects were highly impressive for the time, with the design of the titular monster becoming hugely iconic over the years.
While it did not perform strongly at the box office when compared to other Hammer productions, The Curse of the Werewolf is still held in high regard by critics and film scholars, with some even considering it to be one of the best werewolf movies ever made.
If you have yet to experience the sheer brilliance which The Curse of the Werewolf has to offer, you should do yourself a favour by instantly adding it to your home video library.
2. The Company of Wolves (1984)
Director Neil Jordan delivered an acclaimed 1984 werewolf-themed anthology film called The Company of Wolves, which was based on the short story of the same name from Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber.
The screenplay was co-written by Jordan and Carter, and the film perfectly captured the unsettling tone which made the original story so memorable to begin with.
Needless to say, The Company of Wolves really is a movie which will haunt your nightmares for years to come.
On the other hand, the captivating film also performed strongly at the box office, in addition to deservedly being nominated for multiple prestigious awards.
The Company of Wolves offers viewers an assortment of unique and unnerving tales involving werewolves, with the various anthology segments featuring jealous lovers, evil witches, and bloodthirsty huntsmen.
One of the particular segments also included a truly unforgettable sequence where all the guests at a wedding are turned into werewolves.
And the movie also included one of the most gruesome werewolf transformations in history, as a man literally peeled off his skin to reveal the wolf underneath.
Each of the individual segments also had a surreal and almost dreamlike quality to them, making The Company of Wolves a bold and unique anthology film which deserved all the praise it received.
Many critics actually consider The Company of Wolves to be one of the best werewolf movies of the 1980s, and it certainly is not hard to understand why.
3. Dog Soldiers (2001)
Arguably the most famous British werewolf film of the 2000s, Dog Soldiers focuses on a group of soldiers on a training program in the remote Scottish Highlands who are besieged by an entire pack of werewolves.
The soldiers eventually retreated to a remote cabin, where they were forced to fight against the beasts until daybreak.
And the talented cast included Sean Pertwee, Liam Cunningham, Kevin McKidd, Darren Morfitt, and Chris Robson, who each gave their individual performances everything they had.
Director Neil Marshall, who would also become known for The Descent, Doomsday, and Centurion, delivered a deeply compelling werewolf film which viewers would cherish for years to come.
Praised for its intelligent screenplay, witty humour, strong performances, and convincing practical effects, it comes as no surprise to learn that Dog Soldiers rightfully went on to become a cult classic.
The film has received various DVD and Blu-ray releases since it originally arrived in cinemas, so there is simply no excuse for it not to have a place in your collection.
4. Howl (2015)
Ed Speleers, who you may remember from Eragon, also played the lead role in Howl, an independent British werewolf film which was released in 2015.
Set largely on a train which comes to a halt while moving through a rural location during the night of a full moon, Speleers stars as Joe, a conductor who realises that something is amiss when he spots a strange creature lurking in the woods outside.
As tensions begin to rise on the train, with the passengers quickly becoming frustrated with being stranded and the werewolf threat becoming more imminent, Joe is forced to resort to drastic measures in order to prevent the situation from falling out of hand.
The talented Speleers delivered a memorable performance as Joe, and the movie also featured a truly shocking ending which viewers will certainly never forget.
Director Paul Hyett successfully managed to create a truly haunting and atmospheric horror story which takes place almost entirely within the deliberately confined and claustrophobic setting of an immobile train, making Howl a film which werewolf aficionados certainly cannot afford to miss.
5. Werewolf Castle (2021)
Writer and director Charlie Steeds already has a huge number of films under his belt, with some of his previous projects including Deadman Apocalypse, Escape from Cannibal Farm, The House of Violent Desire, and Winterskin.
Steeds also helmed the acclaimed Werewolf Castle, in which a group of knights embarked on a quest to vanish an emerging werewolf threat.
Peter Lofsgard stars as Thorfinn Garstang, a young peasant who joins the knights on their quest after witnessing his village being slaughtered, learning to become a hardened warrior in the process.
The actual werewolves featured in the film were portrayed by men in suits instead of being created with CGI, giving the savage beasts a joyously retro look and feel.
And despite its limited production budget, Werewolf Castle also featured a number of impressive action sequences, including a thrilling battle scene where the knights were forced to fight a ravenous pack of werewolves which attacked their campsite.
It was also impressive to observe the large and lavish medieval structures which were on display throughout the movie, as the crew clearly did not waste a single penny while searching for the best possible filming locations.
Werewolf Castle ultimately proved to be an enthralling and action-packed adventure, and fans cannot wait to see what Steeds delivers next.
Do you agree with these choices? Tell us your favourite British werewolf films in the comments section below!
DAVID GELMINI is a journalist who has written for multiple online and print outlets. He also has a Master’s Degree in Film and Television, and he loves anything within the realms of horror and sci-fi.