An American Werewolf In London Review

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My review of American Werewolf In London

Before 1981, the Oscars had never actually recognized a best makeup category at the ceremony. butt hat changed on March 29, 1982, when Rick Baker won the award for his work on An American Werewolf in London at the 54th Annual Academy Awards. The film, directed by John Landis, is a psychological thriller with lots of elements of horror comedy thrown in.

When the movie was released, it was part of a trio of werewolf films released that year, alongside Wolfen and The Howling . Director John Landis, known for his comedic work on films like Animal House, and Trading Places, surprisingly ventured into horror with this film. Landis revealed that the inspiration for the script came from a surreal experience while filming Kelly's Heroes in Yugoslavia, as while driving, he stumbled upon a group of gypsies performing a ritual on a corpse to prevent it from returning.

For those who might not know, the film begins with two American tourists, David and Jack, hiking through the Yorkshire Moors (though fun fact, this part was filmed in the Black Mountains of Wales). The  pair seek shelter in a pub named the Slaughtered Lamb, where they encounter Rik Mayall playing darts and Brian Glover in a grumpy mood. 

When things turn unfriendly, they leave with the warning Stay on the path! echoing in their minds. Ignoring this advice, they get lost on the moors, and things then get worse, when they are attacked, resulting in Jack being killed by a wild animal, later revealed as a werewolf. 

Sometime later, David wakes up in a London hospital, and how he got there, despite the distance and numerous closer hospitals, isn't explained, but let's not dwell on practicalities. Jack then returns, either as a ghost or a hallucination, warning David that he will also become a werewolf during the next full moon. 

The anticipated transformation happens in a memorable sequence that won an Academy Award for special effects, and David goes on a bloody rampage across London's West End, including a notable scene at Tottenham Court Road tube station. 

One of the most strange and disturbing scenes in the film I have always found to be is the dream sequence where David witnesses his family being brutally murdered by mutant Nazi demons wielding machine guns during a home invasion. This scene is quite bizarre, sparking debates over its purpose. Was it included for shock value, to add controversy, or is it a leftover from an edited-out subplot?

Despite being classified as a horror film, An American Werewolf in London offers plenty of moments that will make you laugh out loud, especially for those who can recognize the London stereotypes depicted in the scenes set in various locations across the city. .

In my opinion, this movie is exceptionally well-crafted and maintains a grounded feel, even when undead spirits haunt Jack, and the tone remains consistent throughout. John Landis's direction is flawless, though I wish there was more of it, as the film's runtime is 97 minutes which flies by, likely due to cuts Landis made to resolve issues and secure an R rating. 

Without a doubt, it's among the finest werewolf films ever produced, capturing the primal essence of the werewolf myth without getting lost in unnecessary intricacies. Plus, its soundtrack, especially the moon and werewolf-themed tracks, is pretty good too. (Check out some of my favorite horror movie themes)

Overall, I give this movie a 7.5/10, as said, one of the best werewolf movies ever made, maybe even the best in many people's eyes, and if you're into some dark humor, the film will make you laugh too. An excellent mix and a must watch. [AAWIL on IMDB]

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Check out some of my other reviews:

Ginger Snaps
The Medium
Hell House LLC
The Mean One
Winnie The Pooh: Blood and Honey
All You Need Is Death