An American Werewolf in London Horror Movie
An American Werewolf in London (1981)Rating:
- Dylan = 10 / 10;
- Eloise = 8 / 10;
- Raoul = 9 / 10;
- Ronan = 9 / 10
- Simina = 8 / 10
An American Werewolf in London (1981) Synopsis:
Two young Americans tramping in England get attacked by a strange creature at full moon. David wakes up in London, only to find out that he is now a werewolf and that no one wants to believe his story.
An American Werewolf in London Deep Dark Thoughts
You can see some common threads running through my favorite horror movies. Now if you were some big Hollywood director and your soul duty in life was making horror movies for my viewing pleasure, you’d think you had it made in the shade….wrong!!!! But if you add a few zombies, mixed in with some demons from hell and sprinkled in a werewolf or two, you would probably be worshipped beyond your wildest dreams. The keys to my heart are pretty simple, ah?
Well you’ve seen the zombie movies I have on the site and the few demon pages (with more on the way), but now it is time to looking at what I consider the third greatest werewolf movie of all-time, “An American Werewolf in London.” As you can see this fine film ranks right behind “The Howling” and “The Wolf Man” on my Lycanthrope scale. “The Howling” and “An American Werewolf in London” are so similar, yet so different. They both set standards for the modern art of the transformation. But the similarities end with the werewolves. “The Howling” was dark and horrific, whereas “An American Werewolf in London” (AWIL) was dark and comical. Both films deliver the goods on a grand scale.
Of the two, “AWIL” was the first one I was exposed to and it ranks right up there with “Evil Dead 2” in being able to provide a perfect mixture between horror and comedy . Most films that do this fail in a miserable way (i.e Ghoulies, HIDEOUS, etc). “Dead Alive” is another exception to this rule.
Unlike “The Howling“, “AWIL” played more toward the traditional theme of the “reluctant werewolf”. This is the theme that Lon Chaney, Jr. helped establish and one that has served as the foundation for many werewolf movies. I, for one, would never be a “reluctant werewolf”, but would use my newly found powers to clean up society. One can dream can’t he?
The transformations in “AWIL” were truly amazing. Where “The Howling” shrouded their transformations in shadows of pale blue-green lighting (which I think was very eerie), “AWIL” did it in well-lit room liked they were trying to show off their mastery of the effect. This also helped to expose their limitations. Rick Baker originally was hired to do the effects on “The Howling“, but left shortly into the production because he knew John Landis was about to start filming “AWIL”. The assistance that he gave Rob Bottin on “The Howling” was invaluable and in effect probably help make “The Howling‘s” transformation more effective and realistic. This is only my opinion, please e-mail me why you agree or disagree.
One problem I have with “AWIL” was the use of a four-legged werewolf. The two-legged version just seem more menacing to me. The creature still possesses the strength of the wolf coupled with the derangement of mankind. Becoming the ultimate killing machine. But I still liked the werewolf in “AWIL” at least they didn’t go to the extreme of making it look like normal wolves (i.e. “Wolfen”) or put a little hair with some fake fangs and call it a werewolf (i.e. “Wolf”). I definitely prefer the two-legged variation in “The Howling” and “The Wolf Man“.
Also, just saw the sequel “An American Werewolf in Paris” and I was very surprised. It was pretty damn good. Not as good as the original, but very entertaining. The werewolves were CGI (computer-enhanced) and I usually don’t like that, but in this film I did. Due out in video in May and I highly recommend it!!!!
An American Werewolf in London Story
While backpacking across England, Jack (Griffin Dunne) and David (David Naughton) decide not to heed the warnings of the local yokels and “beware the moon”. As the rains fall and the moon rises steadily into the night, they are viciously attacked by a werewolf. Jack is ripped to shreds and David survives with a bite wound. It seems that this bite comes with a pretty hefty price tag, you become a werewolf.
Next thing Jack realizes is that he is in a hospital recovering from his wounds. If things weren’t bad enough for poor David, with all the nightmares and such, he also receives a visit from Jack. It seems because of his unnatural death, Jack is forced to walk the earth in limbo and the dead are really boring him. He warns David to “beware the moon” and asks him to kill himself before he kills any more boring people.
Even with the visits from Jack, David is still having a hard time believing he’s a werewolf. That’s until the bad moon rises. Let the killings begin. Later, Jack confronts David again in a porno theater along with the victims of his recent carnivorous lunar activities. It a really hilarious scene with the decaying Jack and David’s victims offering ways he can take his life. Silver bullet, not in this case.
In the end there are some awesome scenes of werewolf carnage in Piccadilly Square. Is the bloodline stopped? Has Jack finally gotten his freedom? What about the new sequel?? I won’t say. Rent it the next full moon!
An American Werewolf in London Frightful Facts
- When preparing the soundtrack, John Landis had wanted both Cat Steven’s Moonshadow and Bob Dylan’s warbling rendition of Blue Moon. Both men rejected the offer because they had both recently found god and thought the subject was inappropriate.
- Rick Baker won an Oscar for “Best Makeup”.
- In the closing credits it reads, “All characters and events in this film are fictitious. Any similarity to actual events or persons, living, dead, or undead is purely coincidental.”
- The budget for this film was $10 million.
- This was a “pet” project (no pun intended) of John Landis for 11 years before it got made.
- Rick Baker had been serving as a consultant for “The Howling” when he got a phone call from John Landis about joining the film.
- The film was released August 21st, 1981 in the US.
- “An American Werewolf in Paris” grossed over $30 million worldwide.
An American Werewolf in London (1981) Review:
This masterpiece by John Landis easily makes it in the list of very best movies from the 80s. It is above all a classic of the werewolf genre, maybe the most influential werewolf movie since The Wolfman (1941). The great thing is: it is also a very entertaining movie, the perfect mix between drama, horror and comedy. It is very funny all along, and you’ll find yourself smiling quite often. But don’t get mistaken, behind the apparent casualness of that movie are hidden some truly dramatic moments (which appear even more dramatic in that contrasted context).
The special effects are stunning for the time, in particular the werewolf transformation which managed to convince the public despite being shown in constant close up (see scene here). The all scene was initially supposed to be shown in one go, but was finally cut in between by a sequence in which a plastic figurine of Mickey Mouse silently stare at the scene. Make-ups artist used, among others, robotic fake body parts (e.g. for the hand and the feet) that were extended during the shot. To date, this remains one of the best human-monster transformation ever shown, along with some scenes of The Fly maybe. A movie that is cult amongst the cults!
An American Werewolf in London (1981) Cast:
An Americam Warewolf In London Fanspeak
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RE: An American Werewolf In London
A.A.W.I.L. is one of my favorite movies of all time, it has a great touch to it. You don’t have to be a horror fan all though it works best with horror fans like me with a craving for humorous touches. I mean I love serious horror, but their not as fun as movies like this. We have other movies like London that add comedy to horror. Child’s Play series, Return Of The Living Dead, The Lost Boys, Vampire In Brooklyn, An American Werewolf In Paris and more. But they still don’t have the good enough touch this film has, it just all out horror. I remember seeing it as a kid screaming and laughing, and today I have just as much fun. I would love to see this film re-released, it is one of the most favorable horror films ever. But when I ask some people if they ever saw –American Werewolf In London they say no or no, no it’s Paris isn’t it? So I think this movie deserves a lot of attention. This is truly a classic. We have werewolves, zombies, nightmare demons they all fit together in this mash of a horror film. The atmosphere even makes me laugh. I LOVE THIS MOVIE!!!!!!