Saturday 28 October 2023

Movie Review: An American Werewolf In London (1981)

Genre: Monster Horror
Director: John Landis
Starring: David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Griffin Dunne
Running Time: 97 minutes

Synopsis: Friends David and Jack (David Naughton and Griffin Dunne) are backpacking across the moors of Northern England. At a small village they encounter suspicious locals during an uncomfortable stop at the Slaughtered Lamb pub. Continuing their journey under a full moon, David and Jack are attacked by a werewolf. The injured David wakes up three weeks later at a London hospital, under the care of Nurse Alex Price (Jenny Agutter) and Dr. Hirsch (John Woodvine). After his recovery David and Alex start a romance, but he also experiences nightmares and disturbing visions as the next full moon approaches.

What Works Well: Director and writer John Landis revives the werewolf legend with a quality production combining horror, gore, and humour with surprising care for characters. The Slaughtered Lamb pub encounter is an acerbic clash between locals hiding a secret and unwelcome - but doomed - strangers, and the romance between David and Alex brims with mutual attraction. The continued interplay between Jack and David after the initial attack builds depth within the plight of the two friends, and creates ripples of knowing sadness amidst the horror. Rick Baker's transformational man-to-werewolf special effects are astounding.

What Does Not Work As Well: A scene of car-and-bus carnage in Piccadilly Circus is fun but unnecessary and inconsistent with the movie's tone. The ending is exceptionally abrupt.

Conclusion: A clever horror howl at the moon.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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