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Friday, October 12, 2012

31 Days Of Horror- Part 7: An American Werewolf In London (1981)

Polygram Pictures-Universal/1981/Directed by John Landis
Available on DVD/Blu-Ray

            This installment of 31 days Of Horror focuses on yet another classic from the eighties, the horror/comedy hybrid with groundbreaking special effects, John Landis’ An American Werewolf In London. Landis, best known for his comedic directorial side demonstrated in such classics as Animal House and The Blues Brothers, has been in love with the horror genre for pretty much his entire life, and it shows in this landmark film that serves as his love letter to monster movie.

            Two American tourists, backpacking their way across Europe, encounter a vicious wolf one dark night on the foggy English Moors, spelling tragic doom for them both. One dies due to the wounds inflicted by the creature, while the other is cursed with a fate worse than death, transforming into a werewolf as the moon becomes full. The basic story is a familiar one, dating in some ways back to the premise of 1941’s The Wolf Man, but Landis crafts a film that is scary, hilarious, and at times bleak and sad. It serves as a decidedly modernized werewolf tale. An American Werewolf In London may have been made in 1981, but the film has aged remarkably well, and is considered one of the greatest werewolf movies of all time by both fans and critics alike.

            Actors David Naughton and Griffin Dunne, the two leads of the film, have great chemistry and Dunne (as the ghastly ghost of the deceased Jack) has some of the best dialogue in the film. Jenny Agutter (as Naughton’s love interest) rounds out the lead cast nicely. Rick Baker’s imaginative, groundbreaking, and Oscar-winning make-up FX makes An American Werewolf In London a must-see film for practical effects fans. A loose sequel was released in 1997 called An American Werewolf In Paris, and was not as well-received by horror fans as the original film. An American Werewolf In London is well-balanced, with something for all types of horror fans to enjoy. There’s no better time to enjoy this film for the first time (or hundredth) than Halloween.

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