An American Werewolf in London (1981)

american werewolf in london movie poster
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Smart script, great effects

Some might not get its horror-comedy blend

Movie Info

Movie Name:  An American Werewolf in London

Studio:  PolyGram Filmed Entertainment

Genre(s):  Horror/Comedy

Release Date(s):  August 21, 1981

MPAA Rating:  R

american werewolf in london transformation scene david naughton

A wolf in human clothing

David Kessler (David Naughton) has a problem. While hiking through the Scottish countryside with his friend Jack Goodman (Griffin Dunne), they strayed from the path against the warnings of the locals at the Slaughtered Lamb. When a beast attacked Jack, David survived. Now, he is haunted by nightmares and is visited by the rotting ghost of Jack. When David finds himself transformed into a monster on the first night of the full moon, he realizes Jack’s warnings were true. He’s become a monster and must find a way to end his life despite the new love that developed with Alex Price (Jenny Agutter), a nurse from the hospital. Can David find a way to free himself from the curse of the werewolf?

Directed by John Landis, An American Werewolf in London finds a unique blend of comedy and humor while keeping a horror feel. The film was a critical and box office success, and the movie took home an Academy Award Best Special Effects.

american werewolf in london griffin dunne zombie mickey mouse

Nothing like the buzz-kill of your dead zombie friend haunting you with Mickey Mouse

An American Werewolf in London is one of those unexpected films. It is pumped full of fun music (all with a “moon” theme), and with The Howling, really revolutionized the werewolf film. The plot is smart and Landis really pulls off that it is a dark, dark comedy more than a horror film. The movie moves at a fast and furious pace and doesn’t bother to really get hung up on plot while squeezing in a few jumps.

As mentioned, An American Werewolf in London has one of the best werewolf transformation sequences that still holds up today. The scene really does seem painful for (who Landis chose Naughton because of his “I’m a Pepper” Dr. Pepper commercials). The werewolf itself didn’t take the traditional humanoid form made popular in films, but instead just took the form of a large wolf. Smartly Landis does hide a lot of the wolf until the end sequence in Piccadilly Circus…The full wolf doesn’t work as well as the transformation scene but it is still is strong.

american werewolf in london porn theater scene

A werewolf’s gotta eat!

McNaughton is helped in the movie by fun interludes by his rotting friend and the interesting Nurse Price. Griffin Dunne really gets the humor of his role and delivers his lines in perfect timing. The scene in the movie theater in which David is confronted by his other victims is a great example of nice acting meeting a strong script. With Jenny Agutter, Jack’s sarcastic stance to the situation is met with a nice caring touch, and it truly is sad how events in the film end for her.

An American Werewolf in London is one of the best werewolf films out there. It can be enjoyed by a broad audience since it does mix a lot of genres and formed a unique movie. I highly recommend this movie and wish there were more films like it…since there aren’t, An American Werewolf in London still remains a strange entry in not only the werewolf genre but in the world of comedy and horror.  The movie was followed by a less than stellar sequel (which lost a most of the fun) called An American Werewolf in Paris which was released in 1997.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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