Movie Review

An American Werewolf in London

Beware the Moon
An American Werewolf in London Movie Poster

US Release Date: 08-21-1981

Directed by: John Landis


  • David Naughton
  • David Kessler
  • Griffin Dunne
  • Jack Goodman
  • Jenny Agutter
  • Nurse Alex Price
  • John Woodvine
  • Dr. J. S. Hirsch
  • Frank Oz
  • Mr. Collins
Reviewed on: February 25th, 2013
David Naughton in An American Werewolf in London

David Naughton in An American Werewolf in London

Although you may not realize it, An American Werewolf in London was quite an important and influential film for its time. John Landis had recently come off the success of Animal House (1978), but the cast was mostly unknown. Landis, who directed and wrote the film, put a classic monster in a modern setting with some decent results.

David and Jack are two American 20 somethings backpacking around Europe. While hiking in northern England, they come upon a hamlet where they seek refuge from the cold evening in a pub. The occupants are not very welcoming and bully the two men out into the night. Alone on a moor, they get attacked by a werewolf. Jack is killed and David wounded before the town folk kill the beast.

Later, while recuperating in the hospital, Jack appears to David telling him, "The wolf's bloodline must be severed; the last remaining werewolf must be destroyed. It's you, David."  He must kill himself so Jack and anyone else the wolf kills may go on to their final spiritual destination. David's nurse has the hots for him and invites him to her home. Jack again shows up, only his body is even more deteriorated. He again warns David, but he does not listen. On the next full moon David turns and wreaks some havoc in London, killing several people at random. The scariest moment being when the werewolf attacks the man on the tube platform.

Although clearly a horror film, An American Werewolf in London has a sense of humor. David's nude scenes are mostly played for laughs. The next time Jack appears before David, in a porn theater of all places, he brings the spirit of David's victims along with him, who all suggest how he could kill himself. When David tries to get arrested, he yells out loud in Trafalgar Square, "Queen Elizabeth is a man! Prince Charles is a faggot! Winston Churchill was full of shit! Shakespeare's French!"  

When this film was initially released, David Naughton was mostly known for a series of Dr Pepper commercials. To people of a certain age, he is very recognizable as the man who danced across the television screen to the iconic soda pop jingle. Although this was a huge hit, his career never took off.

An American Werewolf in London was the very first film to win an Academy Award for best makeup. It was a brand new category that year. Michael Jackson was so impressed by it, that he hired John Landis to direct his music video for Thriller (1983). He also hired the Oscar winning makeup artist Rick Baker to do his werewolf makeup in the video.

Although the transformation scenes seem a bit dated today, An American Werewolf in London set new standards for special effects and created a bit of a legacy. 

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