By Michael Sauter
January 16, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST

In the vampire-werewolf war of ”Underworld” (R, 121 mins.), it’s clear whom you’re supposed to root for. The sleekly attired vamps live in a mansion charged with sexual tension, while the brutish lycans squabble in their subway tunnel dens. Such is the second-class citizenry werewolves endure on screen: Vamps are sexy, civilized, tragic (Bela Lugosi, Catherine Deneuve); werewolves are shaggy, savage, sympathetic at best (Lon Chaney Jr.). In Hollywood, anyway, wolfmen get no respect.

THE MOVIE The Wolf Man (1941, Universal)

THE WOLFMAN Wayward aristocrat (Lon Chaney Jr.) attacked in the Welsh woods by a wolf who’s really a gypsy

THE LOOK Basic hair suit, with vaguely canine mask

THE LOVE THAT CANNOT BE Pretty village shopgirl (Evelyn Ankers), with the bad timing to fall for him after he gets bitten

THE IGNOBLE FATE Death by silver-handled cane, sorrowfully wielded by his own father

THE MOVIE An American Werewolf in London (1981, Universal)

THE WOLFMAN Yank backpacker (David Naughton) sustains a chomping on the English moors

THE LOOK Spontaneously sprouting fur coat and elongating snout, claws, and fangs

THE LOVE THAT CANNOT BE Pretty nurse (Jenny Agutter), who falls in love with him while providing professional TLC

THE IGNOBLE FATE Shot down in an alley, like ”some sort of mad dog,” by the London police

THE MOVIE Underworld (2003, Columbia TriStar)

THE WOLFMAN Hospital intern (Scott Speedman) bitten by an alpha lycan who wants to create a bigger, badder wolf

THE LOOK Grizzly-bear-like hulks via CGI morphing

THE LOVE THAT CANNOT BE Leather-clad vampire (Kate Beckinsale), who’s attracted to his, um, animal magnetism

THE IGNOBLE FATE Saved from a destiny worse than death — by the bite of his vampire sweetheart