Movies – Why Werewolf Horror Movies Aren’t As Popular Now
For decades, werewolf horror movies evoked fear and excitement, but they haven’t reached that same amount of popularity today – here’s why it changed.
In recent years, there has been a substantial lack of werewolf horror movies in comparison to other creature features. The werewolf is a classic monster that has origins in the very early years of Universal Pictures, which was founded in 1912. In fact, the first werewolf movie was released in 1913 when the company was under the name Universal Film Manufacturing Company, and was simply titled The Werewolf. It’s typical for monsters and creatures with deep roots in horror history to have longstanding popularity in the genre, but the werewolf tends to be the least popular in recent years.
Werewolves appear in popular culture quite frequently, but not to the extent that vampires, witches, demons, and other monsters do. Even Frankenstein has made more appearances that the Wolf Man. The most recent addition to the shrinking sub-genre of creature features is Shudder’s Creepshow’s Holiday Special, which didn’t necessarily take a serious approach to the beast. Nonetheless, the special did reference several iconic werewolf horror movies. Collectively, Greg Nicotero’s movie included Easter eggs for An American Werewolf In London, The Wolf Man, and the Underworld franchise. The main takeaway from this special was that the horror aspects of the classic creature feature have been somewhat lost in favor of a more gimmicky rendition of werewolves.
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In order to understand how werewolves became gimmicky, it’s important to look back towards a few movies in particular. Despite their popularity amongst tweens, teens, and everything in-between, the Twilight saga did not do any favors for werewolves in horror movies. There was even an even more egregious parody of the movie that released which poked further fun at the shapeshifting beast that used to evoke fear rather than create an extremely bizarre love triangle. While the Twilight movies were an undeniable influence on the decrease in the creature’s popularity in more horror-geared titles, it wasn’t the only movie or franchises that contributed to this decline; it also assisted in popularizing them for more teen-oriented content, like the show Teen Wolf.
There are over 100 movies and TV shows that feature some variation of the werewolf creature. The creature is commonly depicted as a man – very rarely a woman – who has been bitten by a werewolf, cursed by a witch, or inherited the gene somehow. Perhaps the most iconic image of the Wolf Man is Lon Chaney Jr.’s depiction of The Wolf Man in 1941. He set the precedent for the modern werewolf. Once horror comedies started becoming popular in the 1980s, An American Werewolf In London altered the perception of how a creature feature could navigate the vicious curse. At the same time, slasher horror flicks were becoming the latest trend and werewolves, vampires, and other creatures started to seem like a thing of the past.
As the year 2000 was nearing, creators returned to the classic with a very particular image in mind. The Underworld franchise combined vampires and werewolves, made them exist in the same universe, and added an abundance of action. While there are horror aspects in each of the franchise’s movies, they are far more often considered dark fantasy action flicks rather than horror. Thus, the start of an all new werewolf began. However, this was short-lived due to what took place in the early 2010s. The werewolf had a genuine opportunity to become popular again, but the movie market became oversaturated with Twilight, Underworld, Teen Wolf, The Wolfman, Red Riding Hood, The Howling: Reborn, and countless others.
Today, werewolves are seen as less horrifying and more of a gimmick. They are almost entirely allocated to horror comedies like Wolfcop and Creepshow’s Holiday Special or used as a tool to create an unrequited romance like Twilight. With Blumhouse Productions’ upcoming The Wolfman remake on the horizon, it could be exactly what werewolf horror movies need to become popular in the 2020s, as this classic monster is the one that’s perhaps in most desperate need of a modern – and scarier – update.
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