31 Days of Horror Movies: An American Werewolf in London - Mania.com

Mania's 31 Days of Horror Movies

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  • Rated: R
  • Starring: David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Joe Belcher, Griffin Dunne
  • Written By: John Landis
  • Directed By: John Landis
  • Genre: Wolfman, Werewolf
  • Studio: Universal Studios
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Series:

31 Days of Horror Movies: An American Werewolf in London

Day 18

By Robert T. Trate     October 18, 2013
Source: Mania.com

An American Werewolf in London (1981)
© Universal Studios
Halloween is a special time. It is the one time of year when everyone gives of themselves. What they give can be anything from candy to a scare. We thought this October, we here at Mania would give you 31 Horror Films for the 31 days of October. Now, many of you will know these films. Some of you, may not. Get ready for 31 days of Horror Films that will run gauntlet from scary to campy, from horrific to down right ridiculous. Happy Halloween from Mania!

An American Werewolf in London (1981) has that unique distinction of being both a horror movie and a comedy long before the genres were ever spliced together. Director John Landis even states this numerous times throughout the special features that this was a huge problem in getting the film made. Nobody could understand or appreciate what the film was trying to accomplish. This blending of genres is the reason that many fans and critics are torn on the film. It has amazing and horrific special effects. Yet it is from those moments that the comedy ensues. How would you talk to your dead friend if he came back? Better yet how would he talk to you? Would anything really change, besides one of you being dead and the other being a werewolf? Landis wrote a brilliant script that has endured. Rick Baker’s make-up effects are still breathtaking. 

From the get go David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) are lambs to slaughter. Landis blatantly points that out the first time we see them. There are warnings from the creepy villagers, right out of the old Universal classic horror films that Baker and Landis loved so much. Before you know it David is bitten by a werewolf and Jack is killed. It doesn’t sound like much of a comedy but by setting it in the modern world Landis allows for the use of contemporary music to fill the movie with laughter. Van Morrison’s “Moondance”, “Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival and numerous versions of “Blue Moon” populate the film. Landis also gives us two American Schmucks as our central characters, who for all intents and purposes can’t believe the supernatural world in which they have fallen into. Then again who could because werewolves are just something for the movies, right?

Naughton’s transformation remains one for the ages and appears sweatier and more painful as each bone cracks. David’s transformation is just as brilliant as the first time you saw it. Even his one dream sequence revealing the yellow eyed and fanged David is still just as creepy. Jack’s gradual decomposition is still raw and gory, but nothing can disguise his final incarnation as the near skeleton puppet, but this is easily forgiven. Funny and scary are great combination for Halloween!

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redhairs99 10/18/2013 8:07:06 AM

 A pure classic that was ahead of its time.

noahbody 10/18/2013 9:25:16 AM

Just watched it for the first time a month ago, thought it was crap.

SPFX, for the time.... blah blah blah still a crappy story.

RobertTrate 10/18/2013 10:58:56 AM

 It ends on a rough note... but it is still funny and scary!

thezillaman 10/18/2013 12:40:56 PM

 ha, this movie kicks ass' I watch it when it first came out on theaters I was 11 years old, and yes the SPFX, at the time was great for this movie. I loved it then like I love it now every other year it's good to poo in the DVD for this movie and have a good time, . I like the part when david transforms inside the theater then breaking loose causing all kinds of accidents while looking to get out of the city and the subway part pure awesomeness as a kid that grew up in the 70's 80's this was and still is a great Horror classic...

ObiWannaJones 10/18/2013 2:10:16 PM

Im still love that movie for Jenny Agutter's camel toe (sorry; can't think straght whenever Zillaman comments with his current avatar)


GreatOne 10/20/2013 9:20:32 AM

One minor correction - the creepy villagers come from the Hammer films, not Universal.  Watch any of the Dracula films and you'll see the fearful, closed-mouth ancestors of this great film.



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