An American Werewolf in London (1981) – John Landis (Friday’s Finest)

I think one of the first movies I ever saw that gave me the jeepers was this one. It remains 53 on the Observation Blogger favourite movie list. There are many scenes which come to memory, but in particular the initial scenes of the two men wandering through the Moors and the man alone in the underground train station stood out to me as a young-en. The scene of the American’s (Dave) conversion to a werewolf (with Creedence’s Bad Moon Rising) is just brilliant and still holds up solid today. It is said the real star of this film is the Oscar-winning transformation effects by Rick Baker, who changed the face of horror makeup in the 1980s. Also the whole music soundtrack is dedicated to the ‘Moon’.

I haven’t seen this movie played on cable and it’s rarely discussed in horror circles, but it remains one of my favourite horror-suspense movies.The movie was written by John Landis in 1969 but shelved more than a decade until it saw the light of day. The movie was intended to be a comedy of sorts, but financiers didn’t see the funny side of comedy mixed with horror. When director Landis (Animal House, The Blues Brothers) did get the go-ahead and eventually made it, American Werewolf was a critical and commercial success. It’s definitely what I consider a cult classic and why it appears here in Friday’s Finest.

IMDB Storyline:
‘Two American college students are on a walking tour of Britain and are attacked by a werewolf. One is killed, the other is mauled. The werewolf is killed but reverts to its human form, and the local townspeople are unwilling to acknowledge its existence. The surviving student begins to have nightmares of hunting on four feet at first but then finds that his friend and other recent victims appear to him, demanding that he commit suicide to release them from their curse, being trapped between worlds because of their unnatural deaths.’

The film by Landis’ account was purposely filmed in bad weather. The Moors were filmed around the Black Mountains in Wales, and East Proctor is in reality the tiny village of Crickadarn, about six miles southeast of Builth Wells. According to IMDB – ‘An American Werewolf in London was the first film allowed to shoot in Piccadilly Circus in 15 years. Landis accomplished this by inviting 300 members of London’s Metropolitan Police Service to a screening of his then-newly released film The Blues Brothers. The police were so impressed by his work that they granted the production a two-night filming permit between the hours of 1 and 4 a.m. Traffic was stopped only three times for two-minute increments to film the automobile stunts involving the double-decker bus’.

In conclusion, American werewolf is really fun to watch. Great performances and great script. Unlike monster/horror movies today, this film has no computer-aided special effects. It doesn’t need them, for this it is a landmark film. While it’s funny as hell, some scenes still scare the hell out of me like when I was a kid. The movie at times is inappropriate with lots of gore and nudity, and it’s not without its flaws, but it’s so god-damn entertaining you don’t care about it.

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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Posted in Movies and TV
9 comments on “An American Werewolf in London (1981) – John Landis (Friday’s Finest)
  1. Connie says:

    Una película super buena, a los niños les gusta mucho, la repetimos muchas veces.

  2. badfinger20 (Max) says:

    One of my favorite movies…only a few movies can be truly scary and funny…this one pulls it off. This was the first movie on dvd I ever bought because I had been waiting forever. I can’t say enough good things about it.

    • It is such a good movie. I hadn’t seen it in over 20 years and I watched it again with my kids and they adored it. In fact they have watched many times since lol It holds up really well these days. It’s cheeky, scandalous and has great gore and horror. Movies like this don’t seem to be made any more.

      I don’t blame you for investing your money on buying the original. It’s a landmark film for sure especially regarding the makeup. I had a few nightmares growing up of the man in the underground train station. It’s a goodie!

      • badfinger20 (Max) says:

        I saw it with Bailey when he was around 12…that was my meter on how well it stood up…one or two parts scared the hell out of him and he has loved it ever since. It still works.

        Yea the makeup is great and I’m still in love with Jenny Agutter

      • Yeh, it’s scary as hell if you haven’t seen it and realised what it was about. I think we have a similar family connection to the movie.
        To me the whole thing is what was good about that era when movies were made. It’s everything you want to see in horror or any movie for that matter.

        It seems just unleashed from a creative source and made to screen as is – as opposed to being manipulated by an idealogical agenda we see these days to satisfy the corporate narrative.

      • badfinger20 (Max) says:

        The part that got to him were the nightmare scenes when he was dreaming of being a werewolf.
        I don’t know of any other horror/comedy that works like this one. Yep no studio interference is a good thing.

      • Yeh, that is nightmare scenario he has is impactful. I agree with you about the horror humor mix in this.

      • badfinger20 (Max) says:

        Sorry Matt…I went and played music with the guys.
        Hope everything is going good for you.

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