An American Werewolf in London
Dir: John Landis
Star: David Naughton, Griffin Dunne, Jenny Agutter, Brian Glover
Cert / Year: 18 - R / 1981
Format: DVD R2

Whilst enduring the typically miserable British weather on the English leg of their 3 month backpacking holiday around Europe. American students David (David Naughton) and his best friend Jack (Griffin Dunne) stop off in the small close knit northern moorland village of East Proctor and seek sustainance in it's quaint and strange pub "The Slaughtered Lamb". After a misunderstanding in the eerie little pub the locals send the two lads packing who before their departure are issued the disturbing warning "keep to the road, stay off the moors and beware the moon". As the lads hastily scurry off into the night they try to put as much distance between themselves and the intensley unnerving pub as they sceptically reflect upon their encounter. They venture further up the road and as they begin to relax a little from recent events they unwittingly stray off of the road and wander onto the desolate moorland. Alarmed by an eerie howl from nearby the boys realise their err but too late as they unsuccessfully try to elude the strange beast which is stalking them. Awakening in a London hospital several weeks later a scarred David Kessler learns that despite his own recollection of events that night Jack didn't survive the ordeal which was officially reported as the attack of an escaped lunatic. His memories discreditted David is released from hospital soon after into the care of comely nurse Alex (Jenny Agutter). But not before an alarming visit by the undead corpse of Jack who informs David of the disturbing truth of their attack and offers him a chilling warning of "Beware the moon!"........just one day before the next full moon.

A fabulous piece of writing and direction by John Landis which almost single handedly rekindled the movie resurrgence of interest in werewolf or lycanthropic stories. Although to be brutally honest there still hasn't been anything better than this in terms of story, script or direction since it's release but The Howling does come a close second place. The dreadful modern "sequal" An American Werewolf in Paris which relied heavily on some awful CGI has nothing whatsoever to do with the original so it is best to avoid it like the plague.

After all this time An American Werewolf in London is still the definitive and by far the most impressive werewolf film to be made. This Landis classic combines some very dark humour with some terrifying and gruesome horror which fuse exceptionally well to produce a true masterpiece and an all time horror classic. Unlike many of it's predecessors An American Werewolf in London exceeds the standard "wolfman" label and leans toward the more traditional of the werewolf myths and legends and instead of the typical depiction of a bipedal (walks on two legs) werewolf it retains the "bones" of the age old tale of a cursed soul which transforms into a large wolf hungry for human blood. In typical John Landis fashion the film is infused with some rather amusing set pieces and bitingly witty dialogue which seamlessly frame the horror which combined with some disturbing but stunning imagery compliments a relatively simple but subtle story. The startling incarnation of the werewolf courtesy of Rick Baker is rewarded by the directorial prowess of John Landis who captures on film the primeval ferocity of the supernatural beast. Much of what you see of the werewolf is ferocious, savage and affords some frighteningly memorable if somewhat gory imagery that you are not likely to forget.

The various gruesome stages of decomposition at which you see Jack are equally memorable ranging from the first "fresh" killed bloodied corpse to the decomposed wormfeast in the adult film cinema. Even though you don't really see that much of Griffin Dunne he does provide an impressive and strong performance, even under the horrific flesh dangling make-up also courtesy of Rick Baker. The rest of the cast also turn in fine performances and in typical John Landis fashion Frank Oz turns up in a cameo role as he does in virtually all of his films including The Blues Brothers and Innocent Blood. Good supporting performance by "token" Yorkshireman Brian Glover in the "Slaughtered Lamb" where he is accompanied by a young Rik Mayall which is amusing to see now.

David's agonizing and bone crunching transformation sequences earned Rick Baker the first Academy Award (Oscar) for make-up effects to be awarded for that category and quite deservedly so. Stunning & horrifyingly impressive on-screen lycanthropic transformation which is still as impressive today as it was back in 1981.

This is ostensibly one of the most prominent and terrifyingly memorable horror movies, a superb interperatation of a classic "horror" story. A violent, vicious and ferocious assault upon your nerves which is bound to make you giggle nervously right before you jump out of your skin and are scared witless again. If you haven't seen this movie before then you are seriously missing out. To be honest it may possibly appear a little shocking for some upon first viewing but well worth the nausea. After later viewing some subliminal indications are most evident but I'm not going to spoil them for you by telling you what they are.

In order to avoid becoming a victim of the beast's carnivorous lunar activities........... Stick to the road, Stay off the moors......and Beware The Moon!"

Rating: 5 out of 5

Picture 16:9 Anamorphic Excellent picture quality
Audio 5.1 Dolby Digital Bone crunchingly stunning Dolby soundtrack
Features Musically accompanied semi-static menu
The film itself presented in it's remastered glory
An amusing and informative Actors Commentary track by David Naughton and Griffin Dunne
Features Musically accompanied menu
Short Behind the Scenes featurette
Interview with John Landis
Interview with Rick Baker
Series of outtakes
Technical effects documentary
Musically accompanied stills gallery
Storyboard to film comparisons
Verdict Two fantastic discs. The extras disc is superb and has some excellent extras This Anniversary Collectors Edition has been a long time coming but it has been worth the wait. An interesting selection of extras compliment a superb transfer of the film and a small collectors booklet is also included within the plastic covered gatefold box.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home