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Movies > Lists > Evolution Of The Movie Werewolf

A Sgt Pembry Joint ...........................................Thursday, December 10, 2009

When it comes to werewolves in film, we're about to go full circle. Paying homage to the original big-screen portrayals of the creature, The Wolfman will be released in February 2010.

A direct remake of the daddy of all werewolf movies, 1941's The Wolf Man, it stars as Benicio del Toro as Larry Talbot, an American man who, upon returning to his ancestral home in England in the 1880s, is attacked and bitten by a wolf, ultimately turning him into an uncontrollable, upright, uptight 'wolf man'.

The original, with the legendary Lon Chaney Jnr in the title role, wasn't the first to explore the pitfalls of lycanthropy with Werewolf of London, following a similar storyline six years earlier, but many a filmmaker has been subsequently inspired by The Wolf Man in particular in the seven decades since.

The character of the 'Wolf Man', or slight variations of him, has appeared in countless films in between Chaney Jnr and del Toro hairing up to play long-lost Larry, while the werewolf itself has undergone many transformations, evolving from a 'wolf man' into a more animalistic creature that stalks its prey on all fours, ala that other American werewolf who terrorized London in the early '80s.

Werewolves have not been confined to 'wolf men' either with 'wolf women' rearing their ugly heads in more recent times. Though some have looked more like Ewoks than werewolves (ie. Dee Wallace Stone in 1981's cult classic The Howling).


After Henry Hull appeared as the Werewolf of London in 1935, Chaney Jnr had a monopoly on the werewolf character in the next decade, starring as Larry Talbot a total of seven times. Later, it was Spain's Paul Naschy who took up the mantle as The Wolf Man.

Born Jacinto Molina Alvarez, Naschy, who died last week aged 75, played a werewolf 12 times - predominantly as the tormented Count Waldermar Daninsky - from 1968 to 2003.

Lon Chaney Jnr as The Wolf Man

In recent decades, anyone and everyone has jumped into the make-up chair to have fangs and hair added to their bodies (most prominently Michael J. Fox in a light-hearted turn as a certain Teen Wolf and at the other end of the spectrum Jack Nicholson as an ageing Wolf), with Hollywood churning out werewolf fare at an increasingly rapid rate.

Following the at-times horrifically bad horror series The Howling (after the first one anyway), Underworld and it's two sequels upped the ante when it came to hair-raising action-adventure, while the overrated Twilight 'saga' is putting werewolves, as well as vampires, into the psyche of many a teen around the world. And there's plenty more to come. Like it or not.

Of course, CGI has brought a whole new dimension to the creation of the monster on film. But, thankfully director Joe Johnston has gone a little old school for his 2010 incarnation of The Wolfman, having hired make-up master Rick Baker, a six-time Academy Award-winner, to turn del Toro into a 'real' beast. It's a blast from the past that is sure to leave its mark.

But, now, without any further adu, let's take a look back at the history of werewolves on film and the vast varieties of ways they've appeared.

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Werewolf of London (1935(
The Wolf Man (1941)
The Undying Monster (1942)
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
The Werewolf (1956)
I Was A Teenage Werewolf (1957)
The Curse of the Werewolf (1961)
Frankenstein's Bloody Terrror (1968)
Werewolves on Wheels (1971)
The Werewolf of Washington (1973)
The Boy Who Cried Werewolf (1973)
Night of the Werewolf (1980)
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
The Howling (1981)
Teen Wolf (1985)
Transylvania 6-5000 (1985)
The Monster Squad (1987)
Wolf (1994)
Bad Moon (1996) Ginger Snaps (2000) Dog Soldiers (2002) Underworld (2003) Cursed (2005) Big Bad Wolf (2006) Never Cry Werewolf (2006) Blood and Chocolate (2007) The Wolfman (2010)

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