A werewolf film just is not a werewolf film without the token "transformation" scene. Their human flesh shedding off or grotesquely mutating and becoming covered in fur. The fangs that replace teeth. The claws that pop out their human nails. The werewolf transformation scene was the shocker that was shocking before shock horror like the Saw series was even a thought. However, a lot of werewolf movies cop out and just shift the scene away during the transformation to save money. Shame on them. To shame them further, let's take a look at the best werewolf scenes on film.
5. The Company of Wolves (1984)
The film itself is a wonderful retelling of Red Riding Hood. The film has an interesting premise and retells the story well. A lot of people feel the film was little more than eye candy that was shot extraordinarily well, but I actually really liked the story. Little Red Riding Hood is a story that needs to be adapted to film more often, in my opinion. It also holds a great metaphor that all men are dogs, though it is a thinly veiled metaphor at best.
The transformation scene in The Company of Wolves is truly a unique one. The man starts ripping off his skin until all his muscles are showing. Then the muscles contort until the man has become a bloody hell hound. It is honestly the most graphic transformation scene I have ever seen. I am a big fan of horror and with that comes gore, but even this transformation scene still makes me queasy. Though while graphically gorey, it is kind of cheesey as all old horror movies are. the ending of the scene especially is cheesey and really humorously bad.
4. American Werewolf in Paris (1997)
American Werewolf in Paris is often overshadowed by its predecessor American Werewolf in London, which you will also see on this list. The movie follows Andy and his friends as they tour around Europe doing daredevil stunts. They end up in Paris to bungee jump off the Eiffel Tower, there Andy saves a woman trying to commit suicide. After trying to find her, he gets attacked by a werewolf and becomes infected. Out of all werewolf movies, this is my absolute favorite. It combines mostly humor with a flimsy story, but some great werewolf scenes. It doesn't help that I have a secret love of Tom Everett Scott.
The transformation in this one is pretty straight forward and CGI'd which is frowned upon by fans of the genre, but I find it enhances the experience more often than not. I enjoyed how it showed Andy acting a little more beastly before the first transformation. Doing things like eating raw meat and hooking up with a shanky women were animalistic and humorous. The first transformation is cheapened by the character jumping into the fountain, but there are plenty more detailed ones throughout the movie.
It is also paired well with the song Mouth by the band Bush, so enjoy.
3. Silver Bullet (1985)
This movie was based on the novella Cycle of The Werewolf by Stephen King and it is one my favorite stories. The story is outwardly simple, murders are happening around town and the townfolk are baffled. The story follows a crippled boy named Marty who, after several murders, faces the werewolf and shoots out an eye with some fireworks. He then embarks on a whodunit with a friend to find out who the werewolf is.
The transformation in this movie is not spectacular. In fact, if it were not for one thing, it would not be much different from many other movies. What sets this apart is after the werewolf transforms, he grabs a bat and beats down a police officer to death. Why in the world? Seriously, when you have teeth, sharp claws, and a need to kill why go for a bat?
2. The Wolfman (2010)
The 2010 reimagining of the 1941 classic lacked in comparison to the original. The story follows Lawrence Talbot as he returns from America to his ancestral home in the small hamlet town of Blackmoor in Great Britain. The story is kind of bland, but for a Victoria-era period piece, it is kind of interesting.
Fans of the original Wolfman were outraged at the blatant use of CGI in the transformation scenes. I will agree that while I like CGI at times, the usage here was just a bit too much. Even if they are mythical creatures, one clearly knows the human body would not distort quite so oddly during transformation. However, it was still very detailed and I did enjoy it once I could look past the CGI.
1. American Werewolf in London (1981)
Two American college students leave their homeland to go on a walking tour of Britain. One night, they are attacked by a werewolf. One is killed and the other is horribly mauled, infecting him with the virus. This is the precursor movie to American Werewolf in Paris and considered one of the best werewolf films ever made. You would be hard-pressed to find fans of the genre who would argue against it.
The transformation scene is the end all, be all of transformation scenes. It is iconic among the genre and probably what you think of when you think of werewolves. It is gritty, it is detailed, it is extensively believable.
Honorable Mention: Hemlock Grove (2013)
I just wanted to mention the transformation scene in the newly released hemlock Grove series. the only reason it did not make this list is because Hemlock Grove is a television show and not a movie. It is a refreshingly new take on the werewolf transformation. It takes the side of the wolf on the inside that makes the character shed their flesh revealing a fully formed furry wolf popping out of him. It is very original and, like The Company of Wolves, very graphic. It liberally uses special effects but not in a silly and obvious way like the Wolfman remake. I also think that having him eat his own flesh after he was fully transformed was a nice touch.