An American Werewolf in London
Director: John Landis
Written by: John Landis
Weapon of Choice: Claws
Other movies in this series:
An American Werewolf in Paris
Rish Outfield's reviews
Scares, laughs, tears, people with cool British accents, zombies, porn, a dream sequence within a dream sequence, a hot nurse, a creepy pub, and the greatest monster transformation of all time. I love this movie. American Werewolf was a nice hit when it came out, but also was respected by critics--and even the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It caused Yours Truly only one sleepless night but left an indelible impression on me. The scenes where Griffin Dunne comes to visit David Naughton always scared me, but made me laugh a minute later--an amazing feat because it's been done so badly in other films (including a couple of Landis's own). Also, the musical puns are so inappropriate that they work completely rather than distract from the seriousness of the movie. I don't know how Landis did it, but I sure am glad that he did.
Released just months after The Howling, this film managed to top it in story, scares, and effects, but it doesn't diminish that one and actually makes the other film more enjoyable for its differences. I personally find the "American Werewolf" to be a much greater creation, because of the way it looks and moves--you know that's not a guy in a costume--that it's a real living being, maybe a wolf crossbred with a lion or something. And like the old time Universal Wolf Man films, there's an underlying sense of doom and despair throughout the proceedings...you know it can only end in tragedy for our poor hero. And the finale of this film really sets it above The Howling, for obvious reasons.
Line To Remember: "A naked American man stole my balloons."
I'd Recommend It To: Monster Movie fans, Movie fans, fans.
The tyranist's thoughts
This is probably the greatest werewolf film ever made. Now there aren't that many of them to begin with (unless of course you count the entire "Howling" series as more than one movie), but this one has a great sensibility and effects that were way ahead of its time. Filmed on the moors of Wales and in London, An American Werewolf in London is often billed as a horror/comedy, but those of us trained to recognize such things will always see the tragedy in it. David Kessler is our tragic hero and when he falls it is with all of the justice and sadness of Hamlet.
I'm not saying that the movie isn't funny. It is very funny in places and very light-hearted much of the way through, but the ending is tragic beyond the comedy. We grow to love David and his new found love, Alex. We want them to win. But David has a serious flaw, a lycanthropic flaw if you will. And it catches up.
A great movie, that has been poorly imitated since (even though I had great fun watching the sequel) and really set up the horror/comedies that would come later.
Total Skulls: 16
|Rips off earlier film|
|Horror film showing on TV/in theater in movie|
|Future celebrity appears|
|Former celebrity appears|
|Girl unnecessarily gets naked|
|Death associated with sex|
|Unfulfilled promise of nudity|
|Characters forget about threat|
|Power is cut|
|Phone lines are cut|
|Someone investigates a strange noise|
|Someone runs up stairs instead of going out front door|
|Camera is the killer|
|Victims cower in front of a window/door|
|Victim locks self in with killer|
|Victim running from killer inexplicably falls|
|Toilet stall scene|
|Car stalls or won't start|
|Cat jumps out|
|Stupid discovery of corpse|
|No one believes only witness|
|Crazy, drunk, old man knows the truth|
|Warning goes unheeded|
|Music detracts from scene|
|Death in first five minutes|
|x years before/later|
|Dark and stormy night|
|Killer doesn't stay dead|
|Killer wears a mask|
|Killer is in closet|
|Killer is in car with victim|
|Villain is more sympathetic than heroes|
|Blood spatters camera/wall/other|
|Poor death effect|
|No one dies at all|
|Little kid lamely survives|
|Dog/Pet miraculously survives|
|"It was all a dream" ending|
|Unbelievably happy ending|
|Unbelievably crappy ending|
|What the hell?|