[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B001XCW6XS][/pullquote] John Landis is an interesting director with a varied list of films to his name, some good, like Blues Brothers, some not so good, like Blues Brothers 2000. But in his golden era of the 1980s he produced a series of high-quality memorable films. From Animal House to Coming to America, or Trading Places to Three Amigos, his back catalogue in that decade is almost second-to-none. In amongst these other masterpieces is one of the most memorable horrors of all time; An American Werewolf in London.
Fairly described as a horror-comedy, An American Werewolf in London tells the story of two American tourists; David Kessler (David Naughton) and Jack Goodman (Griffin Dunne), in the English countryside when they suddenly get attacked by an ˜animal.’ Jack is brutally killed and David awakes in the Grosvenor hospital three weeks later. As he slowly recovers from his wounds, David is visited by the ghost of Jack, who tries to convince him to kill himself before the full-moon occurs and he transforms into a werewolf.
What people tend to forget about An American Werewolf in London is just how funny and tongue-in-cheek a lot of it is. Everything from the early banter between the friends to the ˜waking up naked in a zoo’ scenes, the film is not afraid to push the humour levels. It works so wonderfully and, much like in Shaun of the Dead, it helps to add an odd sense of realism to proceedings and in turn a surprising amount of poignancy. Add to that a good cast, all playing along with the fun and you’ve got yourself a very solid take on a horror mainstay.
The most memorable and lasting scene in the film is David’s transformation into a werewolf. So shocking and convincing is it that decades on film-makers are still approaching the subject in the same way. From the bone-cracking as limbs are elongated and a snout appears where a nose used to be and this scene alone is so engrained in modern culture that it’s difficult to see how a werewolf transformation would be handled any better.
John Landis certainly had an impressive run of films in the early 1980s and with the stand-out transformation scene, a good cast and the surprising play-off between horror and humour, An American Werewolf in London stands as one of the best werewolf horror films in history.