Beware the moon and stay clear the moors. This may be the only warning that you get!
Before Viewing: An American Werewolf in London came out in 1981. I saw it for my first time probably a year or so later, on VHS, at a friend’s house. It was an after school/after graduation type party, and obviously their parents weren’t concerned showing this R-rated, horror film to 11 and 12 years olds!
I distinctly remember having to walk back home after the film. It was dark, and foggy, but it was only about 10 houses or so. I’m not sure I’ve ever run faster back to my house than I had that night!
Presented below is the Trailer for the film.
After Viewing: This movie is definitely in my top 10 horror films. The mix of genuine terror and humor makes for the perfect balance in a scary movie.
“You’d be surprised what horrors a man is capable of.” – Dr Hirsch
For those unfamiliar with the specifics of the film, two young American boys are hiking in the foggy moors of England when they are attacked by a werewolf. One boy, Jack, is killed and the other, David, is only injured. Back in London, David falls for the nurse taking care of him and she invites him back to her flat since he has nowhere else to go. Jack, who is now a decaying member of the undead, comes back to warn David that he will become a monster when the moon is full, and that he should kill himself now. David is unable to take his own life, and when the moon is full that night, he terrorizes the streets of London before the police gun him down.
Director John Landis creates a great homage to the classic film The Wolf Man (1941), which is referenced here, while adding in a modern sensibility of terror and gore. His scare tactics, which include jump scares, and the heightening of the tension thru music and setting, are quickly dissipated by the humor of seeing a zombie-Jack cursing David for getting him killed.
Landis also uses pop music (Bad Moon Rising by CCR, Blue Moon by multiple artists, & Moondance by Van Morrison) to provide offbeat and upbeat moments that either heighten or conflict with the horror. Bad Moon Rising plays during the first transformation scene (by Oscar-winner Rick Baker), “don’t go around tonight, it’s bound to take your life…” plays as David screams in agony at his transformation.
I would consider this the best Werewolf film of the modern era. Both it and The Howling came out in the same year, and Baker’s protege Rob Bottin did the effects in that film, which I’ll be reviewing later this month. It will be interesting to compare the films, as I know The Howling as it’s fans as well.