31 Nights of Horror - Night Sixteen: An American Werewolf in London (1981)

Normally, I'm not a huge fan of the werewolf film. I tend to find werewolves dirty, dumb and silly as a creature of the night. While I do find the whole full moon thing pretty intriguing in a Jeckyl & Hide sort of way, I like the allure and elegance of the vampire much more. Having said all this, An American Werewolf in London left a scar in me. The film stands as the standard to any werewolf movie and is considered a masterpiece.

It is the perfect balance of humor and horror in a film as the horror lends itself to the humor and vice-versa. The comedy sort of alleviates the tension and forces a nervous laugh after you get scared. Not many films do that these days. Even the unnecessary An American Werewolf in Paris comes off kind of awkward when it tries to be funny. Plus that film wasn't particularly scary.

The film centers around two friends, played by Naughton and a memorable performance by Griffin Dunne, who go backpacking in Europe. The two are attacked by a werewolf in Britain after being warned of the "beast" by the local townsfolk. David (Naughton) survives the attack while Jack (Dunne) is ripped to shreds. The townsfolk are unwilling to acknowledge the werewolf's existence so, poor David is left to be examined by doctors and psychiatrists. David keeps having all these crazy evil dreams and keeps seeing his friend, Jack, in the form of a rotting corpse. It's a great film directed by John Landis and has legendary award winning special effects by the immortal Rick Baker.

One dream sequence in particular that has scared me since a young child...actually two dream sequences...involve Nazi-werewolves slaughtering an innocent family and a sequence in which we are swept into the forest where David is sleeping in a hospital bed and then he wakes up....

An American Werewolf in London is not particularly my favorite werewolf film ever made (that honor goes to Silver Bullet, also on my list) but, I am willing to acknowledge the film as the greatest werewolf film ever made. It is a tale depicting both sides of the human condition....the good side and the dark side and the never ending battle against that dark side, which is sometimes prevailed by the sentiment of love. Unfortunately for David, love does not always save the day.

You will no doubt love An American Werewolf in London as it sometimes has moments of laughter and moments of romance...but, make no mistake...the film is ultimately a wolf in sheep's clothing. Check it out tonight.

5 out of 5


Thanks for reading,