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American Werewolf in London (1981)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: John Landis

Starring:
David Naughton/David
Griffin Dunne/Jack
Jenny Agutter/Nurse Price
John Woodvine/Dr. Hirsh
PLOT-CRUNCH
David’s (Naughton) England trip goes to the dogs when a big wolf kills his best friend and wounds him. The weird dreams that plague him afterwards point to his own transformation into a wolf but he just won’t believe it. So he gets some play with a hot nurse (Agutter), the moon goes full and then…well…aaahooooo (wolf howl) he visits the zoo.
THE LOWDOWN
A simple story gets an eccentric approach…and aren’t we all thankful? Guy gets bit by a wolf, has weird dreams, receives visits from the undead, falls in love, turns into a wolf and kills people. Sounds pretty simple, no? What makes Landis’ werewolf classic stand out is the seemingly effortless blend of humor and scares. Both ingredients gel together so well. One second you're sitting in your couch horrified as a horde of werewolf “Nazis” break into a house and murder a family and the next moment, you're smiling or laughing at Naughton’s naked antics (the scene with the little boy and the balloons cracked me up). Landis plays by his own rules and manages to make a love story, crazy dream sequences, a living dead friend, funny situations, an astounding werewolf transformation sequence (one of the most effective I’ve ever seen), violent werewolf attacks and a smashing car pile-up all stick together…wow! The dialogue is also very witty and rings true (especially Dunne and Naughton’s opening scene), the love story aspect is treated in an honest and non-manipulative fashion (helped by Agutter’s captivating turn), the mood is at times very scary (the opening in the hills) and funny at the same time (the transformation sequence is gruesome but the light tune playing in the background gives it a humorous touch) and sometimes just plain funny (anytime decomposing Dunne shows up). How Landis pulled this off is beyond me but in the hands of a lesser director this flick could’ve felt very disjointed. I do have two minor qualms about the film though. For one, the ending caps off way too abruptly. For an hour and a half, I invested myself into these characters and to see it all end in the blink of an eye pissed me off a bit. Also Naughton isn’t always up to the challenge. Some of his most hysterical moments didn’t feel real enough. But all in all, “American Werewolf In London” is one of a kind and in my opinion, probably the best werewolf movie to ever hit the screen. I know "The Howling" was also the shite but Landis’ flick beats it by a snout. Now let's bed some nurses…
GORE
Lots to like here: Naughton eating a deer head, a slit throat, bloody wolf attacks, a bloody stabbing, a severed hand, a machine gun rampage, a bit-off head and some guy getting run over by a car. Add to that the amazing wolf transformation and you've got one hell of a heavy dish.
ACTING
David Naughton (David) is sometimes a tad off but he still pulls through. His sympathetic aura, his smug smile and the well-written script back him up perfectly. Griffin Dunne (Jack) is hilarious, he’s very natural and his scenes with Naughton ooze of wit and realism. Jenny Agutter (Nurse Price) set my pants (and my whole house) on fire. Only the British can glow with such sexual energy and appear so restraint about it. She’s very charming and I appreciated her subtlety. John Woodvine (Dr. Hirsh) is convincing as the no-bull doctor. I bought it.
T & A
There’s a steamy love scene between David Naughton and Jenny Agutter but we don’t see much…lots of teasing…but it still worked on me! What a hot love scene! The consolation prize is Naughton’s butt and his little wolf…urgh. I almost forgot: we get to see a huge pair of tits courtesy of the porno movie playing in the theatre (too big for my taste since I’m more of a B-cup kinda guy).
DIRECTING
Landis delivers here, giving a haunting feel to the scary scenes (the hill and pub sequences), slapping in some fun wolf POV shots (love the subway sequence) and managing to always border the line of "camp" while never crossing it. A perfect blend of comedy and horror. Take a bow, big guy!
SOUNDTRACK
All the songs in this flick have the word “moon” in their titles. We get "Blue Moon" by Bobby Vinton, "Moon Dance" by Van Morrison and a couple more. The songs give the flick an interesting atmosphere…no Bush (the band) here. The piano score is touching and moody.
BOTTOM LINE
"American Werewolf In London" manages to juggle comedy and scares without ever dropping a ball and that’s what makes it so unique. The script is tight, the gore plentiful and the effects dead-on. It is to werewolf movies what "Halloween" is to slasher flicks: a vintage offering that only gets better with age…wanna sip?
BULL'S EYE
Did you know that John Landis wrote this screenplay when he was only 19 years old (I feel like a chump)?

When the man is killed in the underground halls, you can spot a poster of this movie.

In 1982, Rick Baker won the Oscar for “Best Makeup” and was also special effect consultant on "The Howling".

Jenny Agutter’s other genre credits include: "Child’s Play 2" (she played the foster mother Joanne) and an uncredited turn in “Darkman” as a burn doctor.
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4:10AM on 04/04/2010

A True Classic

This is so far the best Werewolf film that has been. Never loses its moxie.
This is so far the best Werewolf film that has been. Never loses its moxie.
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3:37PM on 04/24/2009

Good, but not the best..

I dont find it the all out classic its made out to be, but it is darn clever. A tight script, good direction and acting for the most part make it a step above. But for some reason I can never bring myself to like David as a character all that much. I cant explain it. I just dont like him, making his fate less impactful and robbing me of the emotion the director was going for. I also feel it drags just a bit. Theres a point when it feels like the movie didnt know where to go and my attention
I dont find it the all out classic its made out to be, but it is darn clever. A tight script, good direction and acting for the most part make it a step above. But for some reason I can never bring myself to like David as a character all that much. I cant explain it. I just dont like him, making his fate less impactful and robbing me of the emotion the director was going for. I also feel it drags just a bit. Theres a point when it feels like the movie didnt know where to go and my attention wandered..
And the effects are good and completely on par, but I never felt the transformation was nearly as amazing as its made out to be. The Howlings transformation is much more impressive.

7/10
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4:11PM on 11/25/2007

Probably the best Werewolf flick

"A naked American man stole my balloons."

Plot: Two boys, Jack and David, are backpacking across the U.K. and stumble upon a pub called "The Slaughtered Lamb". When the townspeople act strangly toward them, they feel as though they should leave. But before going, they are told to watch out as it's a full moon. They ignore the warning and are suddenly attacked by a wolf. Jack is killed and the other, David, is badly hurt. He is brought to a hospital with the story that a man attacked them.
"A naked American man stole my balloons."

Plot: Two boys, Jack and David, are backpacking across the U.K. and stumble upon a pub called "The Slaughtered Lamb". When the townspeople act strangly toward them, they feel as though they should leave. But before going, they are told to watch out as it's a full moon. They ignore the warning and are suddenly attacked by a wolf. Jack is killed and the other, David, is badly hurt. He is brought to a hospital with the story that a man attacked them. David begins recovery, befriending the nurse Alex(Jenny Agutter).

While recovering he starts seeing his friend Jack, who tells him that he is in limbo between dead and alive. He says David is a werewolf and has to kill himself to break the curse and before he hurts more people. David struggles with this idea for a while, until things start happenning...

Review: I was actually quite suprised that this movie is really well done. I felt intrigued for the whole film, really not being able to completely predict what happens next.

I had never heard of anyone in this film before, but they did well. I think Jenny Agutter is incredibly sexy in this film, and did a good job supporting. David Naughton played David and did good also. The weakest was Griffin Dunne, who was too campy. I believe this was intentional, but I thought it was awkward as most of the film steers away from camp.
The plot was original enough, with little turns, slightly different from what I expected. The dialogue is good, but I really liked the joking between Jack and David. This film is not a comedy, although it has some good comedic value. The action was totally unexpected for what it was. I was actually very content with the bit of violence when the wolf attacks. As for the VFX, I would love to see a 'making of' for the transformation scene, becasue that was cool. Also some of the attacks are cool towards the end.

John Landis took a different approach this time, and I like it. Sometimes, I don't think his comedies are as good as the hype, but this was definitely a welcome difference as far as his direction ability.

I think that if I bought this, I would watch it every couple of years, but I'm not gonna rush back to it for now, once will do for a while.

Acting: 6/10
Plot: 7/10
Dialogue: 6/10
Action: 8/10
Humor: 7/10
Visual Effects/CG: 8/10
Direction: 8/10
Replay Value: 6/10
Final Rating (Avg.): 7 (B)

Recommend?: Probably the best werewolf flick you'll ever see.
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9:50PM on 10/01/2005

The Shit

"A naked American man stole my balloons."
That is one of the best lines in that movie. This flick scared the crap out of me when I was younger. The beginning when the two friends are hiking in the dark was very spooky. Another part that was creepy was the dream sequence where he's in the woods. The transformation scene was fantastic. The BGM made it more enjoyable.
"A naked American man stole my balloons."
That is one of the best lines in that movie. This flick scared the crap out of me when I was younger. The beginning when the two friends are hiking in the dark was very spooky. Another part that was creepy was the dream sequence where he's in the woods. The transformation scene was fantastic. The BGM made it more enjoyable.
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