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Home > An American Werewolf in London, A Review

An American Werewolf in London, A Review

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Warning! This Werewolf Film Causes You to Howl –with Laughter...

As a staple among werewolf movies, An American Werewolf in London (1981) is a Horror-Comedy that epitomizes gruesome violence. It is also a film that takes a bite out of comedy and runs with it in a way that can leave you in stitches.

Like with typical horror movies, the premise of An American Werewolf in London starts by introducing the soon-to-be-victims: David Kessler and Jack Goodman. These two American backpackers had arrived in the Moors of Yorkshire, England, and had been repeatedly warned to stay away from the Moors and the Moon. As one thing leads to another, they –you guessed it– wander into the Moors as the full moon shone while singing Santa Lucia. They quickly realize their mistake when a dog-like creature pursues and attacks the duo. Three weeks later, David wakes in a hospital bed and is quickly informed that his friend is dead.

It is from this point on that An American Werewolf in London embraces a unique brand of Horror movie satire. From caricatures disguised as characters, to increasingly absurd dream sequences, and to an ironic soundtrack full of moon-related songs, the Comedy works to compliment the movie’s realistic gore and psychological horror. For what it does to the plot, it provides several breaks from the otherwise somber and dark tone. Of course, the movie’s Horror elements wouldn’t be as effective without the visual effects.

While David’s transformation into a bloodthirsty werewolf is undoubtedly one of the most iconic transformation scenes in Horror movie history, An American Werewolf in London has other instances of impressive special effects such as the visceral body-horror of a gradually decaying Jack or numerous dismembered limbs. There is also the creative camera work used for perspective-shots of David as a werewolf, keeping low to the ground as it darts around people and objects alike. It all wraps up nicely for the spectacle that is made from the film.

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Despite expectations, as an average viewer would specifically watch a werewolf movie for the violence, the glorious carnage is very brief in comparison to the film’s runtime. But it is through the efforts of Rick Baker that I can appreciate the  explicit gore, especially when the special effects used to depict it have aged well since the film’s debut.

Even next to other movies of the same category, I find An American Werewolf in London to be the kind of entertainment that doesn’t take itself so seriously. It’s part of the charm that drew me to the Horror-Comedy in the first place, as it doesn’t shoehorn ‘lessons’ into the plot and lets the tension build in a ‘realistic’ pace. It is because of every single feature in this movie that I have been reminded of WHY I like Horror movies –that the work put into these movies create a scenario that satisfies my morbid curiosity and explores the depth of what makes a viewer feel fearful or disgusted. In this, I think of the movie as a memorable experience.

Take a peek at this classic trailer for “An American Werewolf In London!”

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