Two American tourists in Britain are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists.
Release Year: 1981
Rating: 7.5/10 (32,339 voted)
Critic's Score: 60/100
Stars: David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Griffin Dunne
Two American students are on a walking tour of Britain and are attacked by a Werewolf. One is killed, the other is mauled. The Werewolf is killed but reverts to its human form, and the local townspeople are unwilling to acknowledge its existence. The surviving student begins to have nightmares of hunting on four feet at first but then finds that his friend and other recent victims appear to him, demanding that he find a way to die to release them from their curse, being trapped between worlds because of their unnatural deaths.
Nurse Alex Price
Dr. J. S. Hirsch
2nd Chess Player
2nd Dart Player
Nurse Susan Gallagher
From the director of Animal House — a different kind of animal
Release Date: 21 August 1981
Filming Locations: 64 Coleherne Road, Earl's Court, London, England, UK
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $3,786,512
(23 August 1981)
Did You Know?
Humphrey Bogart can be seen in two posters in Alex's apartment. There is one for
Casablanca on the front wall in the living room, and there's a black-and-white solo shot of Humphrey Bogart in the kitchen.
Crew or equipment visible:
The couple in the street are the first to be attacked by the werewolf in London. As they walk in the street past the houses, a large studio light is reflected in the windows.
That way is Proctor, and over here is the moors. I go this way.
Thanks for the ride, sir. You have lovely sheep.
Boys, keep off the moors, stick to the roads. The best to ya…
[then to the sheep]
We'll miss you.
One of my favorite films
While backpacking through Europe, two friends, David Kessler (David
Naughton) and Jack Goodman (Griffin Dunne), find themselves out on
England's moors, despite advice to avoid them. When a wild animal
attacks them, one of them dies, and the other just might be turning
into a monster.
Director John Landis' "pet project"–he had to sit on the script for 10
years before he had enough clout from other films for this one to be
greenlighted–is an excellent, seamless melding of comedy and horror,
with a surprising amount of brutality and one of the most wonderfully
dark, abrupt conclusions ever made.
John Irving once said that he loves to put comedy and tragedy in close
conjunction because each can make the other more effective. That's just
the effect that the combination has in An American Werewolf In London.
Both the comedy and the horror in the film are fully committed to,
unlike many attempts to merge the two. If "the whole is greater than
the sum of its parts" is ever true, this is an example. The comic bits
wouldn't be nearly as delightful if they didn't supervene on the
disturbing, and the horror wouldn't have near the impact if they didn't
arrive in the context where you half-expect the next moment to be just
as lighthearted and amusing. Both the initial "animal attack" and the
apocalyptic ending are perfect examples of this.
Aside from that exquisite unusualness, An American Werewolf In London
has many other superb characteristics. The cast is perfect. Naughton,
who also starred in the seriously underrated Desire, The Vampire (aka
I, Desire) (1982), carries the film with ease. The cinematography is
excellent. The shots of the countryside (actually filmed in Wales) are
actually both beautiful and very eerie at the same time. The make-up
effects are awesome, and the transformation effects are unsurpassed.
The music, which is primarily a number of different "moon" related pop
songs, is also perfect, partially because of the bizarre contrasts in
mood that the music creates, which echoes the comedy/tragedy
juxtaposition. Unlike many other films, every scene in this one is a
something I'd like to spend years exploring. The settings, the
characters, the scenarios are all so fascinating.
This film is a 10 out of 10 even with one hand tied behind its back. If
you enjoy it, and you're open minded about newer horror film styles,
the "sequel", An American Werewolf in Paris, is also worth a watch.