Boy, are you guys in for a treat. This movie is arguably one of the best horror movies to come out of the 80’s and, in my opinion, one of the best werewolf based movies of all time. I remember seeing this when I was a kid and thinking it was great, although the zombie Nazi scene did scare the crap out of me. The best thing is that this movie still stands up today, which is a testament to how well it was made almost 35 years ago. So let’s go ahead and sink our teeth into today’s movie, An American Werewolf In London.
The plot: American college students David Kessler and Jack Goodman are backpacking through the English moors when they decide to stop for the night at a pub called The Slaughtered Lamb. Although the locals seemed to be somewhat friendly towards the two men, they soon turn hostile when Jack asks about a five-pointed star on the wall. The pubgoers tell the kids that it is best they leave and to stick to the road. David and Jack leave but soon wander off the road when they begin to hear some strange howls. David and Jack find themselves attacked by a large creature and Jack is killed but before the creature can kill David, the creature is killed by the pubgoers, though David notices that a man’s body fell, not a creature’s. Three weeks later, David wakes up in a London hospital with little memory of what happened. He is interviewed by Inspector Villers, who tells him that they were attacked by an escaped lunatic but David insists that it was a huge wolf. That night, Jack appears as an undead corpse and warns David that they were attacked by a werewolf and David needs to kill himself or he will change at the next full moon and hurt innocent people. Dr. Hirsch, David’s physician, is curious about the story and makes his way to The Slaughtered Lamb to question the people there. They keep silent about everything but as he is about to leave, one troubled man talks to Dr. Hirsch and warns him about what will happen when David changes. Meanwhile, David is discharged from the hospital and ends up staying with Alex Price, a nurse whom David had started a relationship with. Jack appears to David again, looking more decayed, and warns David about the upcoming moon and begs him to kill himself to end the curse. David winds up changing into a werewolf and killing several people in London. The next morning, David wakes up in the wolf cage at the London Zoo but the wolves don’t attack him. David sees Jack and follows him into an adult theater, where David sees that Jack is joined by all of the victims that David killed the night before. While in the theater, David transforms and begins going on another killing spree. When the police manage to corner David in an alley, Alex shows up and tries to calm David down. It seems to be working but when David lunges towards Alex Dr. Hirsch shoots and kills David, ending the horror.
An American Werewolf In London was met with critical acclaim among the critics, earning an 89% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Many critics praised the story’s mixture of humor and horror, but the primary source of praise was the special effects, which would wind up winning an Academy Award. The movie was a box office hit, earning almost $62 million off of a $10 million budget. The movie would wind up becoming a cult classic and 16 years later, would spawn a sequel that was directly linked to the original, though none of the original characters were in the sequel. Based on the success of this movie, director John Landis was asked to direct the video for Michael Jackson’s Thriller, which wound up becoming one of the most influential music videos of all time and actually wound up inducted into the National Film Registry in 2009.
This is one of my favorite horror movies to watch. The acting was great, especially the relationship between David and Alex, and the friendship between David and Jack. I really liked David’s horrifed reaction to first seeing Jack after the attack, and then his gradual accepting of things the following times he sees him. The plot was your basic werewolf movie but the writing was great and definitely made the movie into a more unique story. The special effects really were incredible for the time and helped make the horror aspects of this movie really stand out. A great movie to watch, regardless on what stage the moon is in.
Rating: 5 out of 5