This answer originally appeared on Quora August 10, 2018.
The wolf has been long-considered a threat to humans and has been used in stories such as Grimm’s Fairy Tales (and even further back) to imply danger. Wolves kill our food sources and are wild, dangerous animals. Though now we understand more about them and many of us realize we are far more dangerous to them than they are to us, you still wouldn’t want to mess with a wolf pack when you’re all alone in the woods.
A wolf’s cry, for a long time, has been a signal of danger to humans. We hear that cry and it could mean more of them are on their way, on their way to hurt us and harm our flocks.
It’s use as an eerie, primal effect is still done today. Some people find it sets an unsettling mood.
I love wolves and understand that they are wild animals, but I also know that some people still fear and do not understand them. It is that fear and ignorance that keeps the wolf howl sound effects in use for horror films.