An American Werewolf In London (1981) – John Landis

I love this movie! It’s one of my all time favorite horror films, and I was so happy to revisit it on the 101 Horror Movies list.

There’s nothing I don’t love about it, the source music – all the songs have the word moon in the title; Jenny Agutter – so amazingly hot in this movie, as well as funny, endearing and the emotional heart of the film; a story that balances horror and comedy incredibly well, and of course Rick Baker’s makeup effects – which one an Academy Award. (in fact before this film that category didn’t exist!).

The story is simplicity itself, updating the classic tale of the likeable everyman, in this case David Kessler (David Naughton) and his friend Jack (Griffin Dunne) are backpacking across England, and make the mistake of straying from the road and onto the moors, where they are attacked by a werewolf.

Jack is savaged and killed, but David is only bitten, waking three weeks later in a London hospital where he begins suffering from some disturbing and frightening dreams, and falls in love with his nurse, Alex Price (Agutter).

He is visited in hospital by Jack, Dunne is outfitted in an outstanding makeup job by Baker, who warns him that he will turn into a werewolf on the next full moon.

David scoffs, until…

John Landis has crafted a wondeful horror film, one that perfectly balances the scares with the jokes, and even today, the film still works perfectly, never failing to entertain.

There are so many things I love about this film, and I’ve now seen it countless times…

I remember in my early teen years, leafing through starlogs, and reading about Rick Baker, and seeing pics of the Nazi-Monster masks for sale, and of course, pics of a monster version of David in his hospital bed in the middle of a forest, and those always bothered me more than his transformation into a wolf, or even the giant, beast that prowls the London streets. Even now, the imagery can be frightening and jarring.

I love throwing this film on, and listening to the werewolf stalk around my living room, via my speakers, as it circles David and Jack on the moors. I love the Slaughtered Lamb. I love the two cops. I love the scene in the porno theatre, as David leans over and whispers, “Good movie.”

And the effects, the effects, the effects.

David’s transformation, taking place on camera, is painful and violent, his and Alex’s fate, sad and heartbreaking.

I can’t rave enough about this film, and it will always be amongst my all time favourite horror films, and I love coming across people who haven’t seen it, because then I can wholeheartedly recommend it, and know that someone else is discovering this awesome film.

What did you think of it?

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Dave Enkosky says:

    This is definitely one of my five favorite horror movies.

    1. TD Rideout says:

      I agree Dave, this one is probably in my top 5 as well. It’s a perfect balance of horror, comedy, story, and Jenny Agutter 🙂

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