An American Werewolf in London (1981)

A bit dated, but good to watch if you want to laugh, and be scared.

American backpacker David (David Naughton), after surviving a vicious werewolf attack that left his friend, Jack (Griffin Dunne), dead, becomes a murderous werewolf himself. Prowling the streets of London, David learns that his living-dead victims will wander in limbo until he is dead.

This is one of those films that your parents love, because its funny, but also scary, and bloody. You can barely ever find it anywhere in today’s world, but when you do it’s always a treat.

Director John Landis does a great job with this material, because he puts the horror-comedy genre together in such a nice way. He makes a lot of his scenes that are meant to be funny, very funny, and the scenes that are supposed to be scary, actually quite terrifying. However, at first I liked it, then after awhile, it was getting annoying.

The constant tonal changes were pissing me off, cause they switched off right away, there was no pause in between changes, just goes fright from comedy, straight to bloody horror. And it would be fine, if the horror wasn’t so bad, but it really is gory as hell, and will sometimes have viewers turn the other way.

The best thing about this film, that everybody loves about this one, is the great make-up job. The costumes of the wolf looks great and it looks very, very real. But it’s the blood, the gore, and the dead bodies that all look great too, and this film really did change the way horror films have their costumes, make-up, and material all look, and let’s just say it is surely one great job here.

David Naughton is very good here in the lead role. He plays that charming guy character very well, and doesn’t come off as a dick, so when it comes to us being on his side for all of this, we are. Griffin Dunne brings a lot to the table, providing a lot of good humor for the parts he has. Also, Jenny Agutter is very great here, providing not only the looks for her character, but the emotional depth that this film didn’t really have for its characters. That’s the other thing that bothered me about this film was that it never got into the transition of these characters, it was just one-note a lot of the times, and that disappointed me, cause that’s what this film needed.

Consensus: Not the greatest horror flick of all-time, but a good one none the less, with a good direction of horror and comedy, as well as great make-up jobs.



  1. Good critique! Interesting point on the transition of the characters. My favorite part of this flick is, almost 30 years later, that make-up work is still damn good.

  2. One of my all time favourite movies and the best horror-comedy ever made! Rick Baker’s work is second-to-none in the film – still looks great today.

  3. “The best thing about this film, that everybody loves about this one, is the great make-up job.”

    Not to people of my age, Dan. The best bit was the Agutter shower scene; it was phenomenal for English lads of that period, and made us thankful for VCRs.

    • Haha, as I was reading the review I couldn’t help but be reminded of the BBC comedy Coupling. I seem to recall a reference to one of the character’s childhoods being heavily influenced by Jenny Agutter and her seemingly incessant nudity.

      At any rate, I enjoyed the review, and agree for the most part. Personally, I like how the gore and comedy come together eventually. Like the scene in the XXX theater. You can’t help but be grossed out by Griffin Dunne, but the whole sequence is still quite funny.

      I have the same sort of squeamish onset of giggling when I watch one of the concluding scenes from Hot Fuzz. The one where Timothy Dalton is impaled by a model of the village. Horrifyingly graphic, and piss-in-your-pants funny all at the same time. Masterfully done.

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