I've decided that within the month of October, I'll be reviewing a horror movie every day. These reviews aren't going to be necessarily lengthy, but just enough to provide an opinion, summary, and why you should see it.
Today's review is: An American Werewolf in London. It will contain spoilers. That doesn't mean you shouldn't see the movie if you haven't. It's an amazing experience.
I consider this to be director John Landis' finest film. If anyone is unfamiliar with Landis' work, he directed the Michael Jackson "Thriller" music video. You are now familiar with his work. He took the subgenre of werewolf horror films and revolutionized the concept to the point where no werewolf film has been the same ever since. This film serves as an influence on horror to this very day.
An American Werewolf in London is a horror comedy. This strange blend of genres may seem a bit dull now but at the time it was almost universally unheard of. Landis created such a blend with bizarre additions such as motorcycle monsters, Kermit and Miss Piggy, and a sarcastic zombie that follows around the main character, David Kessler.
The film is about two Americans, David and Jack, who decide to go backpacking in the English countryside. They are attacked by a werewolf. Jack is killed, but David survives. The film goes through David's mental and physical transformation into a werewolf, which results in one of the finest wolf transformation scenes of all time (see link at bottom). David, now aware that he is a werewolf, tries to maintain control of his problem and his social life all while he is haunted by the rotting corpse of his friend, Jack.
Eventually, David goes full wolf to the point where he is being hunted down by the police throughout the streets of London. The love interest, Alex Price, tracks David down and attempts to convince his wolf form not to attack and to try and stop killing. She does this through loving words, but David the Wolf does not understand. He attacks and the police gun him down. Then, in a mood killing moment, an upbeat cover of "Blue Moon" breaks the grim atmosphere and it cuts to credits.
Landis made an essentially perfect film with An American Werewolf in London. First of all, the title is just bizarre and it stands out amongst other horror titles. The film was so good that for years, horror directors felt there should be comedy in their films in order to be successful.
Never in my life have I seen a better werewolf film, but Ginger Snaps comes close in second. I will probably review that at some point this month.
Films that were heavily influenced by An American Werewolf in London:
-Ginger Snaps-Evil Dead 2-Army of Darkness-Gremlins-Return of the Living Dead-Shaun of the Dead-Fright Night-and the list goes on and on.
Transformation scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFLQS12z8K4
Mood Killing Ending: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIxlMOjMBiM