If you like horror movies, there are two main rivals that keep fighting for the top scariest monster. One is the pale, blood-sucking humanoids called vampires. The other contender is a monster that resembles a big dog. Like vampires, they are also partly human, but far less willing in their monster roles. I’m talking about werewolves, the howling half-human, half-wolf creatures that begin as humans, but transform whenever there’s a full moon. Yeah, we know the story, you get bit, you turn into a werewolf. Likewise, if the vampire sinks its fangs into your neck, you become a vampire. The vampire and the werewolf are only active at night, with the only difference being a vampire will die in the sunlight, whereas the werewolf can only transform at night.
These popular horror monsters have a lot in common, which is probably why their feud has been everlasting in horror movie history. As a kid, I’ve always tried to watch every werewolf and vampire movie that exist. Yeah, I was scared out of my mind, but that’s the idea, right? Well, I also took time to think about which of the two monsters had the better movies.
Now that’s a debate for horror movie fans. First of all, I’ve never been a big horror movie guy, but I did always like watching movies about werewolves and vampires. They’re the classic monsters of the horror movie genre and they’ll probably stay that way forever. Personally, I’ve always dug werewolves more than vampires. In terms of their movies, I tend to like both, but I’ll just say that the werewolf movies always impressed me more.
I think it has a lot to do with the difference between the two monsters. For one, we know they can both turn their victims by biting them. Secondly, we know that they are mostly active at nighttime. And thirdly, both monsters can only be killed in specific ways. With vampires, it ranges from sunlight, a religious cross, garlic, or driving a stake through their hearts. As for werewolves, you can either kill them when they’re in human form, or shoot them in their werewolf form with a silver bullet. They’re hard creatures to kill, so that’s part of what makes them scary. However, in my opinion, it runs far deeper than that.
The vampire movies and werewolf movies usually show them in their most typical forms. With vampires, they’re the pale creatures with fangs and they usually hide in a castle during they day. When it turns night, however, they’ll seek out human prey. In some movies, like 30 Days of Night, they’re more monstrous and embrace their animalistic tendencies. Or, if you watch What We Do in the Shadows, they’re shown in a much more comedic fashion. I will say, that is the advantage vampires have above the other horror movie monsters.
Since they have a big human influence, there’s a lot that can be done with them. You want more vampire comedy? There’s also an animated movie called Hotel Transylvania, where Count Dracula is voiced by Adam Sandler and he hangs out with other horror movie monsters. You want some comedy with vampires? I’d say shows and movies like that cover it.
So it’s fun to see monsters in different fashions, but I think we mostly prefer to see them as what they are. In the case of vampires, I personally think they work best when they’re shown as more classy, more controlled monsters with gentlemen-like qualities. If you want a good example, let’s go way back to the most popular vampire movie of all time. If you haven’t watched Nosferatu, starring Max Shreck, you’re seriously missing out on some classic horror. The main vampire is basically Count Dracula, but was renamed to Count Orlock. It’s a German film, made my German filmmakers, so of course the characters are going to have German names. Yes, that includes Dracula himself.
Nosferatu is without a doubt the greatest vampire movie ever. The iconic shot of Count Orlock’s shadow as he’s coming up the stairs is one of the most terrifying shots in horror movie history. What makes him the ideal vampire is that he represents the scariest of them all. He’s calm, knows how to act human, and is a master manipulator. That’s what every terrible vampire should be and that’s actually what separates them from werewolves. You want to watch a more modern example of that, check out the 2009 movie, Daybreakers with Ethan Hawke. If you ever wondered what the world would be like if vampires were the leading race, then watch this movie. The cool thing is that they act a lot like humans, except they struggle to sustain their main food source, which is humans.
So vampire movies can be different, but even so, I still tend to lean towards werewolves more. From the very beginning, such as the original Wolfman, the critical difference between them and vampires is that they suffer from a curse. Most of the time, a man doesn’t choose to become a werewolf. He often gets attacked and bitten by one, and the curse sticks with him. Unlike the vampires, werewolves cannot control themselves and the human behind the monster has to live with the curse.
I think that’s what really drew me to the idea of the werewolf. The fact that they’re humans and monsters at once, but they don’t want to be. They’d rather be free from their curse and the conflict of the story is watching them try to cope with it. Sadly, they often fail to cure themselves, but in some movies, they learn to control the curse. And when that happens, they sometimes fight vampires. Look at Van Helsing or the Underworld movies and you’ll see exactly that. When it comes down to vampires vs. werewolves, the werewolves usually win. That’s awesome, but when vampires aren’t involved, the werewolves are usually tragic figures who always meet tragic ends.
I named the best vampire movie, so how about the best werewolf movie? I’d say An American Werewolf in London. That movie perfectly showcases the curse of the werewolf and the burden the human has to carry with it. The movie ups the ante by having the mind of the human deteriorate until he is prompted to commit suicide. If that doesn’t show how terrible the werewolf curse is, I don’t know what does.
What say you, horror movie fans? Vampires or werewolves?