An American Werewolf in London
UK / USA 1981
George Folsey jr, Peter Guber (executive), Jon Peters (executive) for Polygram Pictures, Lyncanthrope Films/Universal
directed by John Landis
starring David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, John Woodvine, Griffin Dunne, Don McKillop, Paul Kember, Anne-Marie Davies, Michele Brisigotti, Mark Fisher, Gordon Sterne, Paula Jacobs, Linzi Drew, Lucien Morgan, Dave Cooper, Susan Spencer, Geoffrey Burridge, Brenda Cavendish, Christopher Scoular, Mary Tempest, Sydney Bromley, Frank Singuineau, Will Leighton, Michael Carter, Cynthia Powell, Joe Belcher, David Schofield, Brian Glover, Lila Kaye, Rik Mayall, Sean Baker, Paddy Ryan, Frank Oz, Colin Fernandes, Albert Moses, Claudine Bowyer, Johanna Crayden, Nina Carter, Elizabeth Bradley, Rufus Deakin, Lesley Ward, George Hilsdon, Alan Ford, Peter Ellis, Denise Stephens, Christine Hargreaves, Bob Babenia, Ken Sicklen, John Salthouse, Gerry Lewis, Dennis Fraser, John Altman, Keith Hodiak, John Owens, Roger Rowland
written by John Landis, music by Elmer Bernstein, special makeup effects by Rick Baker
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All American tourists David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne)
wanted to do is take a hiking trip through the British countryside - and
then they're attacked by a wolf who kills Jack and wounds David, before
some locals come to the rescue and kill the wolf ... who in death turns
out to be a man (Paddy Ryan).
When David comes to he's in a hospital in
London, and everyone, from Dr. Hirsch (John Woodvine) to the police (Don
McKillop, Paul Kember), assures him he wasn't attacked by a wolf but by a
madman - and his insistence to the contrary leaves little impression on
anybody. But nurse Alex (Jenny Agutter) has fallen in love with him and
when he's discharged she takes him home with her for recreation - also of
the sexual sort. Now all would be great ... if it wasn't for Jack, who
despite being dead, visits David time and again to insist David's a
werewolf who ought to kill himself for Jack to move on from limbo to the
next level. Jack thinks little of it ... until one full moon night, when
Alex works a night shift, he transforms into a wolf, kills no less than
six people, and wakes up all naked in the wolves' cage at the zoo. He has
no remembrance of what he's done and feels great, but Dr. Hirsch has since
made a few inquiries and thinks there's something wrong with David. He
tries to call David in, but when David hears about the murders, he quickly
comes to the conclusion that it must have been him and tries to get
himself arrested - but that's easier said than done, and instead he lands
in a porn cinema with Jack and those he killed last night in their undead
form, who all insist he kills himself, the sooner the better - instead he
turns into a werewolf of course and ...
When it comes to modern
horror comedies, An American Werewolf in London really ranks very
high up the charts, basically because it delivers on all levels, it's not
only suspenseful and bloody and features some practical effects that sill
impress on one hand and is darkly funny on the other, it's also a
well-structured and well-told yarn that references classic horrors in many
a way without overbourdening itself with Easter eggs while approaching its
story in a way that still seems fresh almost 4 decades after its release.
Basically, it shows director John Landis in top form here, when he
effortlessly combines horror and humour, also showing his predilection for
enjoyable destruction (i.e. the multiple car crash in the finale), and his
talent to just keep things flowing at a steady pace.
A deserving classic
for sure, and a must-see for any self-respecting horror fan!