31 Days of Horror: An American Werewolf In London

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

Just re-released on DVD, this is the best werewolf movie ever made. The story is simple --a couple of Americans (David Naughton and Griffin Dunne) are hitchhiking across Britain one dark and stormy night. They stumble across a inn called the Slaughtered Lamb that happens to have a pentagram drawn on its wall. The local residents are very hostile when Naughton and Dunne ask about it.

As the pair leave the inn to go out into the night, they're warned: "Stay on the road. Keep clear of the moors. Beware the moon, lads." Naturally they walk on the moors. They ignore the moon.

Then something attacks, leaving one mangled and dead and the other alive but cursed.

The movie is probably John Landis' best film. After this he tried to outdo Steven Spielberg on The Twilight Zone: The Movie resulting in the deaths of several people working on the film. He really hasn't made anything worthwhile since. [Editor's note: Shane and readers, check out Landis' short The Deer Woman, made for the Masters of Horror anthology series. It's a lot of fun.]

An American Werewolf In London has its funny moments but unlike Landis' previous movies--National Lampoon's Animal House and The Blues Brothers, which were both comedies--this is a capital-H horror movie. And believe me, it's quite horrifying at times. Just the sound of the werewolf makes my hair stand on end. The other highlight of this film is its special effects. It features the first full body werewolf transformation on screen. In this day and age of CGI effects--it still doesn't come close to how amazing the transformation scenes looks in this film. The first time those terrible yellow eyes snap open is just chilling.

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