Universal Pictures | Release Date: August 21, 1981
8.3
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Universal acclaim based on 62 Ratings
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9
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8
SpangleApr 7, 2017
An American Werewolf in London is just one of those films that, for whatever reason, kept getting put on the backburner. Fortunately, today, I was in the mood for a John Landis directed 1980s horror comedy and would you look at that, AnAn American Werewolf in London is just one of those films that, for whatever reason, kept getting put on the backburner. Fortunately, today, I was in the mood for a John Landis directed 1980s horror comedy and would you look at that, An American Werewolf in London fits the bill. Perhaps the film's greatest flaw is simply not being long enough. Its 97 minute length is nice and concise, but it certainly leaves you wanting more and wishing that the film continued on, even if the age of the werewolves has come to a close. A fun and light horror comedy, An American Werewolf in London has excellent special effects, a fun and light tone, and yet is unafraid to broach the negative mental side effects of becoming a werewolf. While its spooks and laughs are its greatest weapons, its psychological elements are equally compelling.

After leaving a mysterious pub called The Slaughtered Lamb, American friends David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) encounter a werewolf. The two had some hints, given the pentagram and general weirdness in the pub, that this town may have some weirdness about, plus a warning to "beware the moon" and stay near the road. As kids are prone to do, they forgot and wandered off the road. Attacked by a werewolf, Jack is killed and David, as he will learn, is set to turn into a werewolf. The lore in this film is excellent and really takes off as we learn that those killed by a werewolf walk the Earth and advise their werewolf killer to kill themselves in order to end the bloodline, allowing their victims to move on and no longer linger on Earth. For the werewolf, they turn into one with a full moon and must cope with seeing their victims on a regular basis. The emotional toll this takes on David when he sees Jack and others throughout the film drives him mad and questioning what is real all around him. It is a really interesting angle to add to a werewolf film and a great source of comedy undoubtedly, but also providing some emotional depth as we see the cost of becoming a werewolf on an average person. This emotional toll is also seen in the town where the initial attack takes place as we see them walk on eggshells to not alert anybody to what is going on and to practically deny to themselves that these werewolves are real.

Yet, the film's greatest accomplishments come via the special effects. From the excellent transformation scene to the progressive decomposition of Jack throughout the film, the special effects in this film are quintessentially 1980s to be sure, but still hold up in 2017. In particular, the transformation of David into the werewolf stands as the most impressive piece of this with the scene taking its time to show his slow transformation on the outside and the inside before showing his terrifying and fear-inducing final form as a werewolf. Immediately following it up with a truly thrilling sequence of David chasing a victim through a subway station that is not just well formed with a great attention to detail in the production design alongside (even hinting at the climax in a porno theater with a poster for the film playing there), merely adds a cherry on top of the icing of this cake.

An American Werewolf in London treads the tricky line between horror and comedy, yet does so marvelously. Its comedic undertakings can make its horror moments have a little less impact to be sure, but its horror still comes through in the aforementioned chase scene in the subway and other chase scenes, particularly the one to open the film with the werewolf circling David and Jack. These moments really speak to the film's ability to scare, but it is mostly more interested in making us laugh (given that Landis is directing) and in exploring the impact of becoming a werewolf on a man's psyche. An absolutely enjoyable experience that constantly delivers entertainment above and beyond the call of duty, An American Werewolf in London is an 80s classic that feels years ahead of it ahead in 1981. Funny, smart, and scary, An American Werewolf in London more than lives up to expectations.
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5
bpmike83Jul 2, 2016
Not a very good movie. The acting is terrible and it's mostly boring like many werewolf movies are. One time watch and thankfully it's not that long. American Werewolf in Paris is much more entertaining.
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5
EpicLadySpongeApr 1, 2016
This movie was made in 1981... it's supposed to lose its greatness because it has aged badly. Classical movie fans, prepare to see this movie again. I'll keep my eye out on aging in movies like this.
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10
cjm868Dec 21, 2015
Hands down my favourite movie concerning werewolves and one of my favourite movies in general. I love the way writer/director John Landis injects a recurring comedic element into this film. You would think that adding comedy into a horrorHands down my favourite movie concerning werewolves and one of my favourite movies in general. I love the way writer/director John Landis injects a recurring comedic element into this film. You would think that adding comedy into a horror film would offset the tension that film would hope to instill in you. Here that is definitely not the case. Parts like the opening scene on the moors are very atmospheric with a sense of foreboding while other scenes such as one where the protagonist, David, wakes up naked in a zoo and has slyly make his way out of said zoo are hilarious. An American Werewolf In London comfortably joins the ranks of horror classics such as: Evil Dead II, Alien, The Shining and Halloween.

P.S. There is a transformation scene approximately halfway thorough the movie that is amazing, it is some of the best effects I have seen in any movie and it is this that secured Rick Baker (the special effects artist), his Oscar.
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9
obijuankenbiOct 12, 2015
One of the best werewolf films in cinema history, I might even go as far as to say that it is one of the best horror films in History, brilliantly shot and successfully combining horror, comedy and romance all into one, keeping the audienceOne of the best werewolf films in cinema history, I might even go as far as to say that it is one of the best horror films in History, brilliantly shot and successfully combining horror, comedy and romance all into one, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats and attempting to hold the screams! Expand
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8
A_So_Horror_FanMay 23, 2015
The film has some very stereotypical aspects to it, the almost arrogant and foolish way that British intelligence is shown almost seems derogatory, as David must submit to foreign policies and beaurocracy. However the images of Londoners isThe film has some very stereotypical aspects to it, the almost arrogant and foolish way that British intelligence is shown almost seems derogatory, as David must submit to foreign policies and beaurocracy. However the images of Londoners is mildly balanced and justified by the asinine shenanigans of David Kessler. The story is a funny and the negatives are minor unless you’ve seen the film like a thousand times and those idiosyncrasies are all that remain to pick at. The story stays with in a classic premise that does not rely on props or gimmicks of the time to find it’s humor which make it an easy film to watch no matter how many decades pass.

The special effects in this film are kick ass and organic. It is some of the best special effects make up work of the era. It kept with the basic concepts and abilities of creature effects , something that I am glad to see come back into fashion in horror. There are a few scenes in this film that really stand out as far as quality of FX. The rotting visuals are kick ass. Gross and gory and good. Plus I think this is the first time that we saw werewolves as massive beasts instead of the upright biped creature known in earlier stuff like “The Wolfman”. No need for a real wolf, the kind popular in today's shows and movies, nor is there any aspects of the standing monstrosity that is so terrifying such as in “The Howling”. This was a truly original design for the era. It made not only werewolves scary as hell beasts with almost no resemblance to man but it also made real wolves a bit more scary as well (for me anyway).
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8
TheWalrus2000Apr 20, 2013
With outstanding and revolutionary make-up and howling special effects, An American Werewolf In London is a major success especially with its surprising blend of horror and humor.
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10
ballpark_frankNov 24, 2012
In my opinion, this is truly the best werewolf-themed movie of all time, effortlessly combining horror with comedy and presenting a transformation sequence which will probably never be matched. Also the background filler songs, allIn my opinion, this is truly the best werewolf-themed movie of all time, effortlessly combining horror with comedy and presenting a transformation sequence which will probably never be matched. Also the background filler songs, all referencing the moon adds to the treat that this is. The mood of the film bounces up and down like a biorhythm chart, with the extreme highs counterbalanced with the terrifying lows. Perhaps, to nitpick, a few things I didn't like about it include the bumbling law enforcers, and during the final transformation sequence, when David/"David" stares at his hand as it elongates - which actually became one of the iconic images people tend to use when referencing this movie. Otherwise, this is a modern classic. My favorite moments are those when "Jack" makes his visionary appearances, each one in a further state of decay. Place this on your bucket list - it's a must-see. Expand
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4
cabritaSep 21, 2012
It is an old school film that was unsure of it`s self. The horror was not scary although there is artistry present during the transformation scene and many of the scenes where you see Jack back from the dead. I found the odd moment funny butIt is an old school film that was unsure of it`s self. The horror was not scary although there is artistry present during the transformation scene and many of the scenes where you see Jack back from the dead. I found the odd moment funny but much of the over the top humor did not work for me. don`t even get me started about the ending. Collapse
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5
avatar16May 26, 2012
En voyant que le réalisateur se nomme John Landis, il ne fallait pas vraiment s'attendre à un véritable film d'épouvante. Bon, il y a bien une certaine ambiance dans la premièreEn voyant que le réalisateur se nomme John Landis, il ne fallait pas vraiment s'attendre à un véritable film d'épouvante. Bon, il y a bien une certaine ambiance dans la première partie, dans les landes brumeuses. Mais à aucune moment le film ne fait illusion sur le but d'effrayer le specateur. Cela marchait peut-être l'époque, je ne le nie pas. Mais aujourd'hui... Tout ça pour dire que ce Loup-Garou de Londres a pris un sacré coup de vieux! Sinon, nous avons affaire à une histoire de loup-garou en plus, mais qui est tout de même sauvé par deux choses. A commencer par son degré (que l'on pouvait attendre de Landis), assez rigolo (la scène de "réunion" au cinéma porno). Et puis surtout les maquillages, tout simplement bluffant et superbement réalisés, surtout pour l'époque! Justement, en t repensant, Le Loup-Garou de Loup ne serait-il pas une sorte de "prolongation" au clip Thriller? On pourrait le voir comme ça. Expand
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8
MustisTheCatAug 17, 2011
Very good for a werewolf flick. Sure we ain`t got a complicated story here. Just a guy who gets bitten by a scary costume and turns one day. The love story is also quite shallow. But the movie still manages to hold the viewer to see more. TheVery good for a werewolf flick. Sure we ain`t got a complicated story here. Just a guy who gets bitten by a scary costume and turns one day. The love story is also quite shallow. But the movie still manages to hold the viewer to see more. The single main thing I looked at is : is this film scary? Well yes, it is damn scary! Not all the time, mind you. The English country side looks funny compared to all other such flicks where we see the woods mainly. Here, the boys get attacked at night, yes, but at an open area. Ofcourse by now the speciall effects look silly at times, though the man-wolf transformation is the best I`ve seen yet. Still, it is convincing. It also contributes to building the main character - he also experiences a lot of pain and remorse. The film also has a few funny scenes. The thing I liked the most about it : the werewolf is a savage beast and kills people in the most gruesome ways, just out of bloodthirst. Excellent sound to that. Overall a movie that manages to amuse inspite of time. Expand
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9
MarcDoyleMay 29, 2011
I knew this would be a different kind of horror movie when the first 15 minutes or so featured such witty banter between David Naughton & Griffin Dunne. They're great together, and after Dunne "changes", their interactions only get better.I knew this would be a different kind of horror movie when the first 15 minutes or so featured such witty banter between David Naughton & Griffin Dunne. They're great together, and after Dunne "changes", their interactions only get better. The soundtrack is perfect- esp. CCR's "Bad Moon Rising" - and the woman who plays the nurse is terrific. Rick Baker, who won the Oscar for his special effects & makeup, did some unprecedented things in the transformation scene. Probably the worst part of the film is the ending - or lack thereof. Don't quite know what Landis was thinking there, but it certainly didn't spoil the fun for me. Expand
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