An American Werewolf in London starts with two friends, David and Jack, who are backpacking through Europe. While passing through the some moors, they stop by a pub named The Slaughtered Lamb. They try to make small talk with the locals by mentioning an odd symbol on the pub wall, but in doing so, learn the story of a cursed animal that roams nearby, feasting on innocent villagers who wander off to far. Ignoring the tale, David and Jack head back outside and are soon haunted by the mysterious creature. Both are suddenly attacked by a large dog that tears Jack apart and bites David. We follow David for the rest of the movie as he realizes that the creature that bit him was a werewolf, the same creature that the people at the pub were warning him about. Now, he must carry this curse for every full moon that appears unless he can find a way to stop it. A lot more happens in between, but I don’t mean to give a full review right now. I just wanted to honor such a masterful picture of horror and comedy.
Director John Landis made a name for himself by directing comedies, but with this movie, he displays an
incredible talent for creating fear.
During the beginning, nothing supernatural happens, its just two friends talking and laughing, but once we get to the pub, it’s like we’ve entered a completely different movie. The lighting has become darker, eerie silence fills the room, and the fog swallows the roads and trees. It takes much of it’s tone and imagery from the classic Universal movies like Dracula(1931) and The Wolfman(1940). Instead of just mixing comedy and horror, the movie paces itself with each element. It attracts the audience with some dirty jokes and knocks them over the head with an effectively violent jump scare. After some startling dream sequences, it calms the audience down with a little bit of awkward flirting and shower shagging. It’s not that the film is all over the place, it’s just taking it’s time in amping up it’s horror elements. If it’s visuals you want, this movie’s got plenty of cringe-worthy images.
Special Effects Artist Rick Baker shows some of his finest work in this picture by designing the werewolf, zombie Nazis, animal carcasses, and a rotting Jack. As you can see from the picture, he doesn’t just have a few scratches, his entire throat is ripped to shreds. David’s transformation scene is also a great testament to the power of practical effects. It just might be the most amazing transformation scene in any werewolf movie. In fact, it might be a little too realistic. Even if you’re not a squeamish person, it’s kind of hard to watch. Once the werewolf comes out, the carnage it creates can also be disturbing. By then, the humor has gone and the film has reverted back to it’s horror roots. So there you go, just wanted to share a little love for one hell of a movie. Happy 35th Birthday.
Acclaimed actors Hilarie Burton (One Tree Hill), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Walking Dead), Mary Stuart Masterson (Fried Green Tomatoes), and producer Griffin Dunne and friends join together for a night of fun - spontaneous ghost story readings to kick off the Halloween season. Proceeds benefit children of the Astor Services for Children & Families in Rhinebeck. Join us for a night of ghoulish fun, surprise guests, and spooky hauntings!