While backpacking through the English countryside, David Kessler and his friend Jack Goodman are attacked by a ferocious beast. Jack is brutally killed and David is severely injured. David mysteriously recovers but shortly discovers the attack has turned him into a werewolf. David soon becomes a terror on the city of London.
Werewolf movies are not a dime a dozen like zombie films. There aren’t a great deal of them and to be honest there aren’t that many good ones. Most of them have the same plots and none do this much better than An American Werewolf in London. Released in 1981; it is actually one of three werewolf films during that year. The other two being The Howling and Wolfen.
An American Werewolf In London has a comedic style to it comparable to Animal House. Which makes sense because this film was directed by John Landis. Even though the tone of the film is horror, the music and certain scenes add a contrast to the film that makes it seem light-hearted. We have this guy with a terrible curse. Yet while his life is in shambles, we’re presented with the sounds of CCR’s Bad Moon Rising.
I really get a kick out of David when he’s not in actual wolf form. He sees the ghost of his friend Jack and his other victims he’s killed the night before. Jacks ghost is decomposing. At first he looks torn apart but near the end he’s just a rotted corpse. I guess being killed by a werewolf is not only a curse on David, but also anyone he ends up killing. Their souls all lost in limbo until David is dead.
Even this darkness of the film is met with humor. They keep encouraging David to commit suicide and it’s pretty funny how they elaborate on it with such enthusiasm. That’s one reason the movie is so good. It has terrible things happening but makes light of the situation with these hilarious scenes. As much humor there is in this film; there is a great balance of sheer horror. Meaning the horror doesn’t get washed out. The subway scene is great and I love how the camera is through the eyes of the werewolf. That poor guy was just trying to get home to lay some loving down on his wife.
The story is easy to follow and why not. A werewolf curse shouldn’t be bloated with insane plots and dialogue. David is bitten, his life sucks but he’s still hooking up with the English hottie. Then he turns into a monster and goes on killing people.
The best part of the entire film is the transformation scene. One of the greatest next to The Howling and The Monster Squad. The moment it starts, it puts David and instant pain. It’s directed so you really experience the anguish David is going through. He just keeps changing for a good two and a half minutes. When it’s all done; the David/wolf goes on a crazy killing spree throughout the city of London. The next day he wakes up in a zoo with a pack of wolves. You see, that’s the hilarious part of the film. All this chaos ensues and then he wakes up naked with these wolves around him. It’s up and down in a fluid rhythm.
Watch An American Werewolf in London. It’s a good time both comically and gore.