The 6 Worst Werewolf Transformations Ever Put On Film

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?

Teen Wolf

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.

Honorable Mentions:

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.

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  1. Nice, Carreiro. Very nice. Baby Jacob is goddamn adorable. I probably would have just listed every transformation from The Howling series past the first classic film (which I think had at least one scary transformation) and called it a day. Was New Moon Rising the country musical one? If I remember right, The Original Nightmare was the very worst, though because it tried to remake the classic (and even mocked it, I think) and just……no. There is no worse horror series than The Howling, and I say that as someone who lists the original as one of my favorite horror films of all time. I could go on for days about that crap. Anyways, hell yeah, the girl stays to watch the whole transformation. How often are you going to see some shit like that? Bette get your eyeful of wolfy badness while you can.

  2. Although I wouldn’t say any of your picks are better transformations, I’ve always disliked the werewolf form in Harry Potter: The Prisoner of Azkaban.

    Always thought it looked weird all lanky and gangley.

  3. When I saw this post my first thought was “If he doesn’t give it up for the transformation scene in American Werewolf in London I’m going to have to include a long rant in the comments.” I was then very happy to find that picture and caption right at the start. That movie is still one of my favorite movies of all time and still watch it at least every month. Thanks for saying that that is how you do a werewolf transformation.

  4. @trashcanman, everytime you call me Carreiro, I feel like I scored a goal. Yes, the one I posted was the country musical one. That series jumped the shark so hard, the shark turned into a werewolf. Terribly.
    @GrandWazoo, Oh yeah, good call.
    @Mr Jim, I thougth exactly what @Sara C thought here. He was a perfect werewolf version if the actor who played him.
    Mutant Turd, yes, that IS the be all end all of werewolf movies, I needed to make that known right away. Haha

  5. As a fan of Werewolves I feel the need to point out that Humans that turn into giant wolves was pretty much what the Legends actually describe, that being said Twilight sucks and the only transformation I’ve seen from them that worked was longer and involved Jacob Running

  6. I thought the CG for the transformations in the Underworld moves was good. I especially loved Micheal’s transformations into the hybrid at the end of 1 and all of 2.

  7. I do have to say one thing, as much as it will pain me to do so. Twilight did make the werewolves kind of cool IN WOLF FORM. I need to stress this. I do like that the wolves are the size of a good sized sedan and not just slightly bigger than regular wolves(like the size of the direwolves in GoT). I do agree the transformations are stupid though.

  8. The reason the “werewolves” from the Twilight series are just big wolves is because they are NOT werewolves. That is why they can change whenever they want instead of just when the moon is full or some other crap.
    I am not particularly fond of the Twilight series, but WEREWOLVES (not Jacob and the other native americans) are in the story. They are talked about as Children of the Moon, having been rid of by the oldest vampires due to the one’s fear of them.

    Again, I don’t like the Twilight series, but I think it’s wrong to compare the wolf changing people in Twilight with actual werewolves when that is NOT what they are.

    This is a matter of getting your information correct. About not misrepresenting things just because you don’t like them. Twilight sucks, but get your shit right at least.

  9. @ Noone,
    you obviously didn’t read the piece and just scanned it, so before you tell me to “get my shit right”, how about you actually read the whole piece you are insulting BECAUSE I SPECIFICALLY CALL THEM SHAPETSHIFTERS IN THIS PIECE. I ADDRESSED YOUR COMPLAINT BEFORE YOU EVEN WROTE IT. So do me a solid man, atleast READ my pieces before you insult them, because only YOU end up looking like the fool.
    K, thanks.

  10. An entire list of bad werewolf movies (Btw – a werewolf movie by it’s very nature is bad) and you didn’t include 1996’s “Werewolf”?! It is seriously the worst movie of all time.

  11. Just because they weren’t mentioned doesn’t mean he thought they were good. The post is called “The 6 Worst Werewolf Transformations Ever Put On Film”, not “All of the worst werewolf transformations ever” Ya dingus. -.o

  12. The transformation in Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Askaban movie–Lupin turning into werewolf duriing full moon was really cool and didn’t look too fake for a 2004-made movie. Another good transformation is The main character and his dad in The Wolfman (2010)

  13. When I saw the caption-picture combo of this article at first I wanted to flame the hell out of it, only to happily realize that the transformation depicted in An American Werewolf in London wasn’t one of the mentioned worst. I stored my blowtorch again and read on, and I have to agree with the major part of the people here. Most werewolf transformations in cinema are fur-turds with fangs. Either too smooth/fast, too clumsy or downright ridiculous. That’s mostly budget related, but I blame CGI for the “too smooth/fast” part. It works excellent for the full werewolf animations (Underworld and Van Helsing), but it fails on the transformation side, it’s just some lame morphing these days. That said: I liked Company of Wolves, especially the transformations! Considering what could be done with SFX at that time, and the whole wolf-coming-from-inside twist, it rocks. I’d think becoming a werewolf is not like a breeze through your carefully combed sideburns, but more like a tornado ripping you to shreds. And so it should be.

    And yeah, the transformation of Michael in Underworld was somewhat cool, but IMO it doesn’t come anywhere near AAWIL.

  14. Well in old days the transformation wasnt painful in fact it being painful is a very recent thing.

    In the second season of Being Human USA the trio that was born werewolves thats more closer to the real werewolves. Plus it was a gift instead of a curse like Josh and Nora have

  15. I hate to defend, and i know its mostly just opinion, but the twilight movies- even thought hey are commonly referred to as werewolves- in the book it is actually revealed that they are more Shape Shifters. Because of the magic of their tribe they transform when they feel they or their tribes land is in danger. I think the transformation was pretty cool in the movies and it is supposed to happen in an instance as a survival instinct.

    Even though they movies and the writing in the books were childish the idea of Stephanie meyers books is looking at modern mythology in a creative and new way. Hence glittery vampires and shape shifter mind sharing werewolves.

  16. I wish there was a video of the doctor guy at the end of Howling 4 transforming (can’t find). I just remember the main character running into the house for help and seeing DG with his head all bloated and with sharp teeth. He then proceeds to do a much better job at transforming (from my battered memory’s opinion) than that guy in the Company of Wolves clip.

    Also, I just want to say it’s both a shame and an honor that An American Werewolf in London is still universally agreed to be the best werewolf fim (with all the others bleakly in the category of horrible to generic films with a very few good ones, such as the original The Wolfman. If you are going to watch some werewolf movies, watch AAWiL and TW and maybe the remake and call it an early morning).

  17. I looked at the Twilight one and all I could do was go, “Awwww… Puppies~” Seriously not even intimidating. I wanted to take them and play fetch.

  18. @Noone:

    Ok, dude, read this very carefully. A shapeshifter whose only transformation is into a wolf is still a werewolf. The word werewolf comes from the old Anglo-Saxon (meaning English back when it was still basically German) word “were” which means man, with the word wolf. Hence, “man-wolf” which leaves a lot of different varieties available. The original legends? Most werewolves transformed at will. It was either through making a deal with the devil, which gave them a magic belt they could put on to change, or they received the power of shapeshifting, with wolf and human being their only two forms. Involuntary transformation is actually very rare in the original legends involving werewolves, and actually the full moon transformation is comparatively an insanely recent development. Most of the original involuntary transformations came in the form of families who were cursed so that each member had to spend seven years (or some other arbitrary number, but these kinds of things loved the numbers 7, 13, and 3) as a wolf. Do your research before you try to come off as smarter than someone else. Failure to do so will come back to bite you. (cheesy pun very much intended)

  19. That Bad mo(vie)oon clip had me in stitches not so much the transformation but the incredibly hammy acting I was in tears! the trainers (or is it sneakers as you americans call them?) exploding was awesome there should be more trainer exploding werewolf transformations in movies.
    That howling one has to be one of the worst films ive never seen its actually insulting that they expect somebody (the directors mum perhaps) to watch that pile of shit that was beyond piss poor.
    CG werewolves have never worked as far as im concerend although there have been a few good but not great ones but they look too slick and fake when cgi’d (American werewolf in paris im looking at you).
    Good article im going to share it with my brother on fb he’ll love this.

  20. Will you do a “best Werewolf transformation”? I seem to recall that horrid series “Hemlock Grove” having a decent transformation.

  21. I liked the transformation in Van Helsing, even if it was quite obvious the guy was crawling backwards on the flaw rather than up a wall. I’ll admit my opinion is biased by just how awesome the werewolves themselves were.

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