37 of 1001 Movies: An American Werewolf In London (1981)

To ring in October, it seems quite fitting that I’d be watching An American Were In London. With a bit of humor, and scares thrown in it makes for a good movie, from surprisingly the guy who directed Animal House. It doesn’t seem like a huge leap for John Landis to direct this, but from his resume it doesn’t seem horror is his go to. I think this is the best of the best as far it goes with werewolves though. They are a tough creature now to get people to take seriously in horror, and I think Landis knew this, so he called in for some humor so the movie never felt like it was taking itself too seriously.

David and Jack are two American friends who are touring through Britain with backpacks. When they arrive in a strange town they make a pit stop only to find that the town inhabitants are quite strange. Not long after the pair is attacked by a werewolf leaving a friend in quite a predicament when the next full moon arrives, and the people who witnessed the incident deny the events.

I didn’t expect for a werewolf movie to give me any chills. Most the recent ones seem too computerized to really provide a scare. There is something eerie about movies made in the 70s and 80s that utilize horror though. Since they can’t show you everything since some technological advancements hadn’t occurred it’s more so up to the director to create a completely different atmosphere, and quick glimpses of the monster causing horror to really get you scared. This works way better than actually seeing the monsters providing the scares I think.

John Landis I believe was aware the werewolf had lost it’s scare factor at least in idea. Instead of taking itself seriously he throws in a bit of humor that doesn’t exactly make the movie a joke, but instead doesn’t set the viewer up to take it too seriously either. Within in the first few minutes you also feel attached to David, and Jack, which is good because then your feelings sort of get involved. I think David takes the situation he’s been given in the movie, and his character makes it feel real. As you should feel toward a werewolf, you know he’s the bad guy, but you also know he can’t help it.

It isn’t really the werewolf that adds to the scariness of the film though. It is instead all the corpses trapped in lingo till the lineage of the werewolf that killed them has died. Now that is an interesting twist! I hadn’t saw a werewolf film put ghosts in the equation. The corpses rotting in limbo is oddly terrifying, and gross. You can’t help but wonder how much they can rot before they are nothing in limbo though? Even though it was David Naughton who was the lead role it was instead Griffin Dunne who became the standout actor to watch in it.

If you’re looking for a good movie to include in the month of October then I do recommend seeing what An American Werewolf in London was all about. It doesn’t creep you out enough so you can’t sleep at night, but it does provide some chills relative to the season we are in. The setting is also a perfect mood adding to some of the intense moments of the movie, and I never thought at any point that the scenes involving the werewolf looked cheesy.

Rating 4 of 5

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