AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON

Universal Pictures
1981
R

“The wolf’s bloodline must be severed; the last remaining werewolf must be destroyed. It’s you, David.”

While backpacking in England, David and his friend gets attacked one night by a wolf, getting wounded while his best friend is killed by the beast. David recovers, and promptly hooks up with the nurse who took care of him while he was at the hospital. While crashing at her London digs, David starts getting plagued by weird dreams that point to his own transformation into a wolf. Then he’s being visited by his horribly eviscerated and very dead best friend. Believe me, the question of David’s sanity is the least of his worries when the moon goes full…

Like Halloween and Evil Dead, An American Werewolf In London is one of those low-budget horror classics that is essentially a simple story with an eccentric approach. Guy gets bit by wolf, guy turns into wolf and kills people. Pretty simple, but what makes this early 80s flick stand out is the effortless blend of humor and scares. I remember the first time I saw this movie- I was 7, and I snuck downstairs late one night because I couldn’t sleep, and turned on our old Zenith TV to HBO (cable television being something of a novelty at the time), and this was on. I was freaked. Even watching it now, the movie retains that horrific charm it had on me the first time, but now I can appreciate the crafting that Landis did to this film. The transformation effects are top-notch (still entranced me now as it did then), and the terror-inducing suspense that’s left more to the imagination (that scene in the deserted subway tunnel…brilliantly done, and without seeing the thing chasing the guy whatsoever), and that adds to the scares than any CGI can ever do. I do want to say, though, that this flick ends a tad too abruptly. That said, though, this is, in my not-so-humble opinion, the best werewolf movie out there. Yes, I know many consider The Howling (which was released around the same time as AWiL) to be the best, but I think this one wins by a narrow margin. A classic that’s worth your time…and make it a double feature with The Howling if you can’t get over the final assessment…

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