Horror Movie Matters: #18: An American Werewolf in London 1980 Dir. John Landis

#18: An American Werewolf in London 1981 Dir. John Landis

There are two kinds of people in this world, Howling people and American Werewolf people. I am definitely the latter. While I enjoy the mixture of horror and eroticism that The Howling conveys, I prefer the updated classic approach of American Werewolf in London. This film tells the story of two young Americans who become lost on the moors in England and attacked by a wolf. One young man survives, the other does not. Soon, David, the survivor of the attack, is plagued with fevered dreams of wolf-nazis, and killing deer with his bare hands. David soon learns that he was bitten by a werewolf, and is cursed to change every full moon into a demonic hound, whose appetites can only be satiated by human flesh. As David becomes more aware of his condition, he is confronted by the undead spectres of his victims, a horrifying reminder of his dual nature. This film truly explores the concept of what it means to be cursed. Director John Landis described David's lycanthropy thusly, "It's like you have cancer, only instead of killing you, it's killing everyone else." This is perhaps the best description of the werewolf myth I've ever heard. This werewolf isn't sexy, he's miserable. I should point out that there is comedy to be found in this film, but most of it is pitch black, but make no mistake, the horror title is well deserved. Also, I can't end this review without mentioning that this movie has the single best werewolf transformation ever put to film, thanks to make-up master, Rick Baker. American Werewolf is primal, gruesome, hilarious and sad. It homages The Wolfman, while making the myth its own and takes the audience for a wonderful journey into the cursed and brutal world of the werewolf.