Director: John Landis
Running Time: 1 hour, 37 minutes
Two friends named David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) are on a European backbacking trip. In a small town outside of London, the two are attacked by a large wolf. Jack is killed, and David winds up in a coma in a local London hospital. A short time after waking up, Jack appears to David in his very dead state, telling him they were in fact attacked by a werewolf, and that the werewolf's bloodline must be severed or he will be stuck in limbo forever. Essentially, David has to kill himself or he will become a werewolf and continue killing innocent people.
"An American Werewolf in London" is a horror dark comedy written and directed by John Landis. It stars David Naughton and Griffin Dunne as David Kessler and Jack Goodman, two friends on a backbacking trip through Europe. In a small town outside of London, the two friends fail to heed the warning of a bunch of creepy locals in a nearby pub to stay off the moors. With the full moon shining brightly in the sky, the pair are attacked by a large wolf. Jack is killed and David severely injured and left in a coma. He awakens three weeks later in a London hospital, unsure of exactly what happened. It is then the mutilated spirit of Jack appears to him in a series of visions telling him he is a werewolf and he needs to end his own life or risk killing others, which would leave him in limbo, just like Jack.
"An American Werewolf in London" offers a mix of graphic, sometimes grotesque imagery and a ton of humorous wit, as well as some silliness, too. This film made history by being the first to win an Academy Award for best makeup, and this was very much deserved. Rick Baker, makeup and effects extraordinaire, does a fantastic job creating some really gruesome makeup, especially during the now iconic transformation scene. He also does a brilliant job on the decomposing corpse of Jack, and each time we see him after he has died, he gets progressively worse as you start to see more and more decay like little flaps of bloody skin hanging from his shredded neck. The aforementioned transformation scene is a practically done one and impressively so as we see David's limbs, face, and torso stretch and contort as he turns from human to wolf. This sort of transition would no doubt be handled with CGI today.
John Landis does a brilliant job finding a balance in "An American Werewolf in London," making this film both funny and frightening. The climax is spectacular as it ends with the chaotic mess of a rampaging wolf in London's Piccadilly Circus, creating a carnage of car crashes and death. It is quite fun, and we love every minute of it. Both Dunne and Naughton have the perfect blend of sarcasm and scared in their acting, and as we mentioned above, the makeup and effects are pioneering in some ways. We would hate to see this movie get remade into some cheesy CGI-fest, but we feel like it might be inevitable. At least we'll always have the original.
My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 89%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!
One year ago, we were being scared by: "The Moth Diaries"
Two years ago, we were being scared by: "Cockneys Vs. Zombies"
Three years ago, we were being scared by: "Carrie"