An American Werewolf In London (1981)

DVD Cover (Universal)
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Overall Rating 78%
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Ranked #1,229
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David and Jack, two American college students, are backpacking through Britain when a large wolf attacks them. David survives with a bite, but Jack is brutally killed. As David heals in the hospital, he's plagued by violent nightmares of his mutilated friend, who warns David that he is becoming a werewolf. When David discovers the horrible truth, he contemplates committing suicide before the next full moon causes him to transform from man to murderous beast. --IMDb
Joe Belcher
Joe Belcher
David Naughton
David Naughton
Griffin Dunne
Griffin Dunne
David Schofield
David Schofield
Brian Glover
Brian Glover
Review by Chad
Added: July 18, 2007
The werewolf subgenre of movies is one that I'm completely torn on, if you'll pardon the pun. On the one hand, I feel that the genre has tons of potential and that it can pump out some really good movies if they're done properly, but on the other hand... well, most of them aren't done properly. You've got the "older" films from the nineties on back which usually feature a creature that looks laughably fake, a fact which serves only to kill off any sort of tension that may have been built prior to its appearance, but then you've also got the more modern versions which rely on CGI effects. These effects create a monster that looks fake for a whole other reason, and again, any sort of mood that may have been built is broken once it appears on screen. As with everything, however, there are exceptions to the rule, and An American Werewolf in London is certainly one of them.

The story for this beastly little tale centers around David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne), two American tourists who have traveled to England for a small vacation. The first thing that they encounter is a small town housing a pub known as The Slaughtered Lamb which happens to be the local watering hole to a handful of superstitious folks who seem a bit nervous about outsiders wandering into their neck of the woods. This experience doesn't clue our leading men into the fact that wandering around in the middle of the night probably isn't a good idea, and wouldn't you know it - the two are eventually attacked by a werewolf, leaving Jack dead and David injured.

Three weeks later, David finally regains consciousness in a London hospital, where he learns that the authorities claim that an escaped lunatic was responsible for the attacks. Realizing that a cover-up is in place, David nevertheless insists that his claims of a beast attacking them are legit, but of course, nobody wants to listen to a man who is "in a state of shock over the recent events." As if all of this wasn't bad enough, David soon receives a visit from an unlikely person: Jack, his deceased friend. Jack claims that he is cursed to wander the earth as an undead spirit until the werewolf's bloodline is severed, and guess who is the last werewolf in this line of lycanthropes? David would be the correct answer, and Jack warns him that he must kill himself before the full moon rises again. Thinking that he is losing his mind (hey, who wouldn't in this situation), David eventually gains the pity of the head nurse at this hospital (Jenny Agutter) who takes him in at her house while he regains his bearings... but is it possible that maybe, just maybe, David really is a werewolf?

Where to even begin with this classic of a film? For starters, I could point out that it was one of the first films to seamlessly blend horror and humor together into one hell of a package. Granted, it may not have been the first to attempt this, but in my humble opinion, it was the first to do it and make both aspects of the film work together in a flawless fashion. You'll definitely laugh when the jokes start rolling out, but horror fans will also be in for a treat once that side of the movie kicks in to full gear. It takes a lot of talent to blend these two genres together and have both sides work out, but Landis nailed it with this release.

If that wasn't enough to whet your appetite, how about those werewolf effects? As I mentioned above, this is a major deal-breaker for me when it comes to the genre, but the werewolf featured here set the standard for how these beasts should be portrayed on the big screen, and in fact, I'd even venture so far as to say that the transformation sequence found here has yet to be topped in any werewolf film that I've seen. It may be over twenty-five years old, but don't let that fool you: the creature design in this film kicks the shit out of any of the new-fangled CGI crap that the studios are pumping out these days.

I could end this review now with a solid 10/10, but I haven't even mentioned the acting performance by David Naughton. David carries the film with ease, and although there are a few other people supporting him along the way, make no mistake about it: Mr. Naughton is the leading man here, and his screen presence and line delivery solidifies that within the opening moments of the film.

What else can be said about the film other than the fact that it's a true classic that any self-respecting horror fan should have in their collection? Yes, it's that good. 10/10.
Tristan #1: Tristan - added 07/18/2007, 08:49 AM
This movie had one of the coolest werewolf changing scenes ever. It wasn't the classic method, where they keep cutting away. You actually see things grow and the bones change shape. Up there with the Howling for my favourite werewolf movie. 10/10
grain of sand #2: grain of sand - added 07/18/2007, 06:22 PM
see you next wednesday
Tristan #3: Tristan - added 07/19/2007, 02:04 AM
I totally don't get that.
Ginose #4: Ginose - added 07/19/2007, 09:36 AM
This is THE werewolf movie. Give as much as you want to "The Howling", it doesn't hold a candle next to this one. I loved tha plot, the SFX, the makeup, and, espeically, the comedy. I suppose Landis can't make a movie that isn't atleast alittle funny. 9.2/10
bluemeanie #5: bluemeanie - added 07/19/2007, 09:50 AM
What's not to love about "An American Werewolf In London". Everything from the Tube sequence to the metamorphosis to the opening sequence in the countryside. This film rocks on so many levels. Griffin Dunne is hysterical, as always, and director John Landis brilliantly mixes that humor with some of the best horror effects ever. This one never gets old. 10/10.
grain of sand #6: grain of sand - added 07/20/2007, 03:47 PM
tristan, the posters on the subway wall, and the porno theatre
Tristan #7: Tristan - added 07/20/2007, 11:10 PM
What is it with werewolf movies and porn theatres? The Howling had a porn booth, so that's close.
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