Tomorrow's screening of The Company of Wolves, Neil Jordan’s 1984 adaptation of Angela Carter’s fairytale, promises a truly gruesome werewolf transformation scene. I can’t wait. In anticipation, here’s my top five moments of cinematic lycanthropic metamorphosis.
5. The Wolf Man (1941)
One of the earliest cinematic werewolves, the Wolf Man, played by Lon Chaney Jr., went on to appear in four sequels, including, bizarrely, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. A fairly low key transformation, but there is something obscurely sinister about a werewolf in slacks and an Oxford collar.
4. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
Not a classic transformation (although plot-wise, of terrible significance to all involved), this is included in honour of my teenage crush on everyone's favourite Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Remus Lupin. I was a teenager in a slightly pre-Twilight world where no beefy vampire-hunting Native American werewolves existed; a shabby looking, undernourished, slightly depressed middle-aged schoolmaster was all we had to work with.
3. Ginger Snaps (2000)
Where are all the female werewolves? Why do all the top were wolfing positions go to male werewolves? When will Sheryl Sandberg extend her brand to include Lean In for Werewolves? Anyway, in an attempt to address the gender balance, here's Ginger from the really quite excellent lycanthropy-as-puberty-metaphor teen horror Ginger Snaps.
2. Teen Wolf (1985)
At the lighter end of lycanthropy-as-puberty-metaphor genre, Michael J Fox uses his newly lupine physique to get really good at basketball. This scene gets bonus points for also including Teen Wolf Sr., the most chill werewolf around.
1. An American Werewolf in London (1981)
John Landis’s 1981 masterpiece will almost certainly never be beaten - from the opening scene on the Yorkshire moors, to the final chaotic crescendo in Piccadilly Circus, it’s never less than totally glorious - so number one with a silver bullet is this vivid transformation, which makes my knuckles itch just thinking about it.