AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON
Reviewed by: Andre Manseau
and David Naughton
What's it about
David and Jack are backpacking in England when they are suddenly attacked by a vicious werewolf. Jack dies, while David survives after townsfolk kill the animal. It would appear that Jack is now being plagued by nightmares about strange things. He falls for his nurse, but unfortunately he learns (from dead Jack) that he's been given the werewolf curse and will soon turn into the beast.
Is it good movie?
Strangely enough, I've tried to watch this movie several times but have never had any success getting through it. I don't know why either, really because this one is really quite good. In fact, it's a modern horror classic and although I've just watched it in its entirety for the first time, I won't be telling you anything you don't already know.
This movie really depends on its cast, and the cast is excellent. David Naughton and Griffin Dunne are both excellent and likable actors who play off each other well. Jenny Agutter and John Woodvine are also both excellent as the medical team that deal with poor David.
Of course, the film isn't perfect and there are a few times when you'll be wondering out loud why some of the characters allow certain things to happen (why would any hospital ever let a man who is practically insane after such a violent attack get loose). I also wasn't a huge fan of the ending and some of the pacing in the village scenes is off. Some people might argue that this movie is too scary to be a comedy and too funny to be a horror film, but I think this one almost strikes the right balance.
It should also be noted that I really didn't have any idea what this movie was about. I was convinced that it was simply about two backpackers who got chased by a wolf, and not that someone would be cursed. The film is much more than that, coming off like a dark, tragic film with some comedic elements thrown in. Most of the movie is the dread and suspense involved with the impending transformation of David into the wolf.
Ultimately, this film is still relevant, has great effects, an unforgettable transformation and some decent acting. What are you waiting for?
Video / Audio
Video is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen and is looking just fantastic. The image quality is sharp and colors are vibrant. This is the best this film has looked, unless you count the blu-ray release. That one is better.
Audio sports a spiffy 5.1 surround mix and is lacking a little oomph in the rear, but still comes through quite well.
Feel like sitting down for another movie? Well, Beware the Moon will give you all you need to know about this film. Running at a feature length 90 minutes, this is a fantastic documentary that will fulfill all you wanted to know. You can check out film locations and just get so much detail that you'll snap the disc in half and never watch it again. Oh wait, why would you do that?
The other new bit is I Walked With a Werewolf, which is a bit of a little fluff piece interview with Baker, who reflects fondly about The Wolfman and this flick. It runs about 8 minutes long.
Making An American Werewolf in London is a jokey 5 minute retro clip which promotes the film and tries to sell it to audiences.
Audio commentary with actions David Naughton and Griffin Dunne is also quite good. Its always nice to hear a commentary with interested actors, even 20 years later. These two are friendly and engage in some great banter that makes this worth listening to.
You also get a half an hour of interviews with John Landis and Rick Baker. Landis is informative and honest and great to listen to, while Baker sort of rips his old work. It's good stuff, but it's stuff you've already seen if you watched Beware.
You also get Casting the Hand, which is about 13 minutes of casting Naughton's hand. That's about all it is, the creation of the hand, sans narration. It's cool stuff.
There are also 4 minutes of outtakes, although they have no sound, you get the picture.
Do you care for Storyboard to Screeen montages? How about photo galleries? They're both here too!
I enjoyed this film quite a bit more than I expected to and is a bit of a pioneer film for great stuff like today's Shaun of the Dead. It's funny, memorable and well acted and that's a lot more than I can say about other 'classic' horror flicks.