Of all the classic horror movie monsters, werewolves, quite frankly, get the short end of the stick. Vampires and zombies have dozens of iconic films to claim as their own, while ghosts and witches pop up in movies all the time. But werewolves? Their great films are fewer and further between.

One of the oldest and most widespread creatures of folklore, the modern idea of werewolves originated from ancient Greek literature before growing into a common figure in European oral traditions. But onscreen, werewolves are less omnipresent — and typically less successful — than those starring significantly younger creatures of the night like vampires. Universal Pictures’ first attempt to bring werewolves to screen, 1935’s “Werewolf of London,” flopped and paled in comparison to masterpieces like “Dracula” and “Frankenstein.” The studio eventually returned to the creatures of the full moon for “The Wolf Man,” which was better received but still isn’t regarded as one of Universal’s best monster movie efforts.

Perhaps that inauspicious cinematic start is what caused werewolves to never quite get their stranglehold on cinema, at least compared to other monsters. Aside from a brief renaissance in the ’80s with three werewolf flicks coming out the same year, the lycanthrope has a much smaller list of films compared to vampires, and a ton of them are terrible. Occasionally, they’ll appear as the second banana for other monsters in films like “Twilight,” whose wildly problematic take on the werewolf tradition was a mere subplot for the sparkly vampires the films actually follow.

All that said; when a werewolf film is good, it’s wildly compelling. At their core, most werewolf stories are tragedies, more so than most horror films. The protagonists are often ordinary people whose transformations cause them to undergo horrific and devastating physical and mental breakdowns. The bite of a werewolf can be used as a metaphor for a lot of transformations — disease, puberty, aging — but the films are most interesting when they focus on how the nightmarish condition changes the person afflicted with it. That’s not to imply all werewolf movies are downers though; not when gnarly action films like “Dog Soldiers” or comedies like “Teen Wolf” exist. Sometimes, you want to see a wolf man go berserk on a bunch of victims and many werewolf movies deliver.

In celebration of Halloween 2023, IndieWire rounded up some of the best films to feature werewolves, ranging from hidden gems like “The Company of Wolves” to mainstream success stories like “The Howling.” Entries are listed in chronological order. Read on for IndieWire’s list of the 10 greatest werewolf movies ever made

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