Oh man, there are no words for how excited I initially was that Paul said yes to the pitch for this piece. Those three letters meant I got to sit down and wade through my memories of all the awful werewolf transformations I’ve had to sit through over the past two decades as a horror fan, and then look them up on Youtube to see if they were as awful as I remember them.
This meant hours upon hours of wading through terrible transformations as if they were personal memories in a photo album. Now that I spent the last two and a half hours doing this, I hate myself and know this was the worst idea ever. The end result should be pretty entertaining from your end, though.
Bad Moon (1996)
The first thing that is going to happen when you read this list is that you are realistically going to see a transformation that you like, or that you consider to be “good” and I will take some blame for that. I think my real problem is, outside of the masterful Rick Baker effects in American Werewolf in London, I don’t find werewolf transformations particularly scary or impressive. So in that sense, this list was hell for me, because I think there is really only ONE good transformation.
Yup, this one. The transformation scene in American Werewolf in London is painful looking and scary as hell.
Having said that, Bad Moon is not a transformation scene that anyone will argue with. I hope.
Why? Because it is bad for so many reasons, I could fill this article right now. First off, Mariel Hemingway’s dark eyebrows are far scarier than anything else going on in this scene. Second, the Ted character chooses to monologue like a Bond villain, and somehow has the ability to halt his transformation halfway, so he can pull off said monologue in as scary a fashion as possible. The end result is “goth kid at Hot Topic wearing colored contacts” scary.
Here, just watch the scene:
Bad Moon drinking game. Take a shot everytime he says Janet.
I also love how, in bad horror films, the woman just sits there to watch the entire transformation, and then runs once the werewolf is at its most agile and wolf like. Whereas, I would run as soon as this dude’s voice started sounding all hoarse and his eyes changed color.
But seriously, everything about this change is as sloppy as it gets. He turns into a man-dog with a cleft palate.
Death Moon (1978)
If the synopsis for this film from the website Internal Bleeding does not grab you and pull you in, then nothing will. “After going to Hawaii, a man realizes he is a werewolf and starts killing the locals after he blacks out.” Yup, I don’t know about you, but I am BEYOND sold. Happens to me everytime I go to Hawaii, too.
Paradise turns me into a werewolf, too!
Death Moon was a TV movie, and for that reason you wouldn’t expect a good transformation. But you also wouldn’t expect a the old “leave the camera on the actor, and we will use stop motion effects as we slowly apply more crappy makeup and fur to his face” transformation. Man, we all knew those sucked way back in the 60’s. How did that makeup effect survive so long? Oh yeah, it’s cheap as hell.
“You should just stand there and look at me while I slowly transform with one expression on my face.”
This is not so much a werewolf transformation scene, as it is a scene of a guy slowly turning into Alan Moore.
This might be my best Alan Moore joke yet. I think he just cast a spell on me as a result.
Now I do understand that budgets were very low for seventies era TV movies, but also, we should not forget, Salem’s Lot was a TV movie that came out around the same time, so let’s not try to use that as an excuse. I have seen cats cough of furballs that are scarier than this transformation.
Come to think, any cat coughing up a furball is scarier than MOST things.
New Moon (2009)
Oh, by the undulating Gods of old, my time to condemn these horrible, horrible movies has finally come. The Twilight series is SO BAD, so poorly written and acted and executed, that it fills me with the kind of rage that people make comics about online. I guess in that sense, I am cliche. But seriously, these movies suck. The romance aspect is a joke ( let’s teach young woman to be passive and submissive and offer all of themselves to the first guy who tells her he wants to kill her), the vampire aspect of it sucks (Look at us, we sparkle and play softball and are not in the least bit intimidating or alluring) and lastly, the werewolf aspect.
Now I fully realize some Twi-hards may come on this thread and say that these things are not werewolves, they are shape shifters or some similar crap, but spare me of that. They are guys who turn into wolves. Where I come from, we call them werewolves, even if they suck.
Really? Half naked boys turn into wolves by slightly twisting their bodies or jumping in the air?
And then they just turn into big wolves. I am sorry, but put a little f*cking effort into your ideas and designs. They are, literally, just big wolves.
The movie never touches on it, but THIS is how Jacob looked as a kid.
I could go on for days, but I will just stop now because many have said it before, and said it better. But what I will say is: Why do all these bad werewolf movies have “moon” in the title? Is that some sort of inside joke among bad werewolf movies?
Alright, I know this movie is so bad it is good, and I am by no means trying to undermine the pure 1980’s cheesy-awesome-ness of it all, but the change scenes go from bad to down right non-sensical. First, we will start with the non-sensical:
Though I do love this scene, as I get older I realize just how stupid it is.
At this point in the film, he has little to no control over when or where he changes, yet, somehow, he can control the change just enough to change his voice and make his eyed red? Well, there was beer involved. Kids have done far weirder shit for less.
Note beers seductive dance moves to lure in the teens.
And now, we have the full change, which is, shall we say, a copout.
Open bathroom cabinet, not werewolf yet. Close it, Voila, werewolf!
One minute he has a puffy face and the next minute he is a werewolf? That is like offering someone a three course meal and then only serving them bread and pudding and sending them home. I understand this movie was aimed at a younger audience, but so was the Monster Squad, and the werewolf transformation in that movie was “BADASS to the MAX.” ©
Yes, I just got the copyright to that expression.
Howling VII: New Moon Rising (1995)
So four out of five of the worst werewolf transformations I have ever seen all have “moon” in the title. which is ironic, because Moon was a great, non-werewolf film, but I digress. The Howling actually has one of my other favorite transformations right here, but the series just got worse and worse as time went on. Have heard rumors that the most recent sequel took it back to its roots, but didn’t care enough to look into it. Why?
This is why:
I have a blind friend named Lucas who could do a better job on the CG than they did here. Sadly, he can’t read this, so he will never know.
That is just about as lazy as it gets. It is somehow even WORSE than the transformations where they slowly change someone, frame by frame. The weird, almost liquid CG effect of going from the human to the terrible werewolf design just has no flow. It might win the award for ‘least scariest thing I have ever seen”.
Any joke I make here will cost my job, so I am not going to say anything.
Now we know some bad movies are good, but some bad movies are just f*cking BAD. I know at this point in The Howling series, they were going for shtick, (pretty sure this is a space musical with cowboys who pee rainbows) but come on, if you are a werewolf movie, atleast put a tiny bit of effort into your f*cking werewolf.
And Now For One I Can’t Decide About:
The Company of Wolves (1984)
Trust me, I know this is not one of the worst, but this seemed a perfect place to bring it up. Allow me to explain why.
When I saw this one as a child, at an age when I clearly should not have, to me it defined how painful this type of transformation would actually be. Bones twisting and bending. Skin stretching and nails tearing. It cannot be simple or pleasant (Thus why New Moon’s transformations are so annoying. Apparently, turning into a wolf is as easy as sneezing) and this scene, from The Company of the Wolves embodies the “body horror” of what I imagine a transformation would be like.
Not exactly the most subtle, covert way to change, but it works.
But a few things about it don’t sit well with me. Mainly, the puppetry once it is shifting into wolf mode. When it is the human, pulling off chunks of its skin and hurling them at the girl, it is genuinely scary and unsettling. But by the time he is skinned, and his animatronic snout pops out, they just lose me.
Don’t get me wrong, I still think it looks (and sounds) extremely painful, but it also sort of reminds me of a skinned Jim Henson Muppet towards the end of the scene.
So that is why I am on the fence about the transformation in Company of the Wolves. Because it is half awesome and half silly.
I still think it is one of the creepiest movie posters ever, though.
Anything with a werewolf on the ScyFy channel. Oh, and why the hell do they spell it like that now? It is annoying.
Almost any CG werewolf transformation ever.
Video game or movie? Hard to tell these days. Which is a great sign for the evolution of video games, but a terrible sing for the stagnation of horror cinema.