An American Werewolf in London (1981)

The comedy and the mundane settings - rural Yorkshire, a less-than-swinging London - make a sharp contrast with the horror in this essay on the story of the Wolf Man. It felt like a 1970s-era Hammer, but without the po-face.

I though this was great back in 1981. The humour was suitably British, a credit to director and writer John Landis, who already had a reputation for his American comedies such as The Blues Brothers and Animal House, and Jenny Agutter made a very appealing nurse (sorry, but that's the truth of it). For the time, the in-camera animated prosthetics in the transformation scene are remarkable, and together with the sound FX and the soundtrack (Blue Moon) are the highlight of the movie. But CGI has ruined the FX industry, and it's amusing to hear of directors who are getting fed up with it and want a return to in-camera effects instead. Modern viewers may now find the modelling (the wolf's head and hind legs for example) less than convincing.

In 2021 it now seems slow, thin and with a decidedly hurried, gory and incompatible ending: it went all serious and ran out of jokes. I was disappointed.

1001 Movies Review

"The movie also boasts extraordinary werewolf effects from Rick Baker..." Agreed.

"Filled with gruesome, blackly comic scenes [...] and great performances [..]" 

'Blackly comic' - yes, but 'great' performances? Well, David Naughton is fine, Griffin Dunne (Grint's Ron Weasley to Naughton's Potter ?) is funny, and John Woodvine takes it all very seriously as the doctor whose rationalism is being challenged, but there are none that I would describe as great, although Brian Glover is 'great' fun.

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