PLOT: On a backpacking trip to London, two American college students are attacked by a werewolf. Soon, the lone survivor comes to the realization that he may be making a serious transformation once the moon is full.
REVIEW: John Landis’ classic horror comedy AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON is one of the best of its kind. Coming out the same year as the also terrific THE HOWLING in 1981, this comedic slant on a werewolf tale is an inspired work. With a hilariously witty script and gruesome special effects – ones which still hold up today – this incredible film was a testament to just how effective mixing genres can be. This is the rare occasion where the humor works just as well as the horror.
The casting behind this marvelous flick is one of the many elements that work. David Naughton is excellent as a young American who finds himself cursed by a full moon. Griffin Dunne is absolutely hilarious as his deceased friend who is forced to walk the earth as a decaying corpse – the “Mickey Mouse” moment is priceless. And as far as leading ladies go, you can’t go wrong with the stunning Jenny Agutter as the nurse who takes a romantic interest in her possible werewolf patient. Even the bit players in this wonderfully deranged flick are inspired choices. The scenes which take place in a pub appropriately called “The Slaughtered Lamb” are pure genius.
As writer and director, Landis cleverly revamps the horror genre with the perfect blend of humorous and horrific images. The brilliant suspense when both David (Naughton) and Jack (Dunne) are stalked on the English moors is unquestionably thrilling. The terrifyingly brutal late night guests during one of David’s dream sequences are shockingly scary – it’s downright nightmare inducing. Thankfully Landis spends just as much time creating wonderfully rich characters that we can actually give a damn about. And as for the comic element, there is so much to be enjoyed from the naked American balloon thief to Dunne’s constant returning from the dead that the smile to startle ratio works the entire way through.
With all this goodness, not enough can be said about the still classic transformation that holds up perfectly well today. It was so good that it earned Rick Baker the very first Academy Award for Best Make-Up – a category created in 1981. Add to that a killer soundtrack featuring classic songs about the moon and you have yourself one of the very best examples of comedic horror done right. AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON is a perfect movie to watch anytime, but it is a must for the month of October.
BEST TNA SCENE:We do get a very sexy love scene revealing the lovely Jenny Agutter’s bare breasts, the nudity here is mostly of the male variety. However, if you are into that, that is a ton of naked Naughton for your viewing pleasure.
BEST GORE BIT: Rick Baker puts on one hell of a show with his brilliantly bloody effects. The most lingering and impressive for me was Dunne’s continuously gruesome state of decay.
HALLOWEEN DRINKING GAME: You’ll be having your very own transformation if you take a drink or shot:
- Every time you hear a song that mentions the moon.
- Whenever somebody tries to convince David to end it all and kill himself.
- If you take a swig every time you see a naked Naughton.