Cha, Cha, Cha, Cha, Changes – The Wolfman and Other Favorite Transformation Scenes

The transformation scenes in The Wolfman, starring Benicio Del Toro, were, of course, top-notch and excellent. You get nothing but class and skill when Rick Baker is involved. Hell, even Anthony Hopkins turned into a damn werewolf in the movie — an old werewolf, as was depicted by it having gray hair.

The Beast, indeed, has had its day throughout the history of horror cinema. Cool transformation scenes — involving werewolves or other beasties — have been going down since the original Wolf Man in 1941 (bite your tongue, it was awesome – cross-dissolves rule!). Here are a few of our favorites.

The Wolfman (2010)

True, Benicio Del Toro kind of already looks like a werewolf without any makeup and CG magic, but the effects team still brought their A-game to this one. Director Joe Johnston and makeup maestro Rick Baker knew that audiences go to werewolf movies not so much to see the werewolf but to see how someone becomes a werewolf, and the “how” makes for some of the best moments in the movie.

Benicio’s first transformation — while crawling up the steps from his father’s “crypt” — is an old-fashioned horror movie moment, as we only get glimpses of various parts of his body transforming: his foot, his hand, his ears, etc. The real doozy comes later when Benicio is strapped to a chair, being declared insane by a bunch of haughty doctors. “I will kill all of you!” he exclaims. And he does.

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

The Headless Horseman dropping the “Headless” from his name is one of the goofier moments of Sleepy Hollow, but also one of the most pleasing for fans of director Tim Burton. Burton channels his Beetlejuice days in the scene were the Horseman claims his decapitated skull and puts it back between his shoulders — from there, veins, flesh and eyeballs start appearing, meshing about all to and fro until we get the face of Christopher Walken in an even more ridiculous wig than the one he wore in Burton’s Batman Returns. It’s a delightful mix of CGI and old-fashioned stop-motion animation — it brings back memories of Large Marge herself.

Interview with the Vampire (1994)

It’s certainly dated now, but back in ’94, the shot where Brad Pitt goes from human sad sack to immortal bloodsucking sad sack was actually quite breathtaking. In a mix of CGI and plain ol’ cross dissolves, we see Pitt’s face in loving close-up, going from hot-blooded human to pale-skinned vampire, his eyes sparkling with the instinct of a creature of the night. Tom Cruise is pleased by it all: “Now look… with your Vampire Eyes,” he says with a smile. Great movie. You should love it more.

Van Helsing (2004)

Sure, this movie lets CGI do most of the heavy lifting, but it has people turning into werewolves and Dr. Jekyll turning into Mr. Hyde (actually, reverse that), so how can you not love it? The best moment has Van Helsing himself turning into one of the beasts he despises so much — his human skin tears away to reveal the werewolf beneath, and he roars and growls and bounds and leaps about. Hugh Jackman manages to be even more ripped than he usually is when he lets loose the beast — the werewolves of Van Helsing look like giant hairy bodybuilders. Madness.

Splice (2010)

This one’s difficult to talk about without giving too much away, but suffice to say that Splice is a must-see for every true horror fan, an unsettling mix of Frankenstein, Species, and, uh… well, again, you should see it. The beautiful and horrible Dren is the product of DNA and genetic tinkering on the parts of Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley — suffice to say that there are a few jaw-dropping moments where Dren, uh, “evolves.” Dig it.

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