An American Werewolf in London (1981)

Posted: October 6, 2012 in Movie Review
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An American Werewolf in London

Directed By: John Landis

Starring: David Naughton, Griffin Dunne, Jenny Agutter, John Woodvine, Lila Kaye, David Schofield, Brian Glover

Subgenre: Werewolves

Synopsis: Two American’s are attacked by a werewolf while backpacking through Europe, killing one and infecting the other.

Thoughts: An American Werewolf in London is often regarded as one of the best werewolf movies of all time.  That’s a tough statement to argue.  While it doesn’t have the nostalgia points of The Wolfman, it makes up for that with the delivery of a really great movie, not just a great horror movie.

The cast is great, with some stellar performances from David Naughton and Griffin Dunne as David and Jack, the two backpacking Americans.  Most of the performances are very good, especially for a horror flick.  My lone complaint is that Paul Kember, who played Sergeant McManus, was to over the top as the bumbling detective. 

One of the real stars is Rick Baker, although not for acting skills.  His FX work here is legendary, with one of the best onscreen werewolf transformations ever.  The fact that he did this with practical FX never ceases to amaze me.  I’ve yet to see it topped, by practical FX or CGI.

Director John Landis has made a name for himself in the horror genre with this title (as well as the underrated Innocent Blood), but his real claim to fame is his work in the comedy genre.  He has many classics to his name, including Animal House, Blues Brothers and Spies Like Us.  His horror work is also infused with his quirky sense of humor.  He continues to work in the horror genre and is a member of The Masters of Horror, having delivered two episodes of the titular series.

While there are many great parts to An American Werewolf in London, my favorite is the climax in Piccadilly Circus.  Landis strikes hard and fast and the movie doesn’t linger too long.  This truly is one of the best Werewolf movies of all time, if not the best.   


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