An American Werewolf in London

August 21st, 1981


An American Werewolf in London

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Still of David Naughton in An American Werewolf in London

Two American tourists in Britain are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists.

Release Year: 1981

Rating: 7.5/10 (32,339 voted)

Critic's Score: 60/100

Director: John Landis

Stars: David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Griffin Dunne

Two American students are on a walking tour of Britain and are attacked by a Werewolf. One is killed, the other is mauled. The Werewolf is killed but reverts to its human form, and the local townspeople are unwilling to acknowledge its existence. The surviving student begins to have nightmares of hunting on four feet at first but then finds that his friend and other recent victims appear to him, demanding that he find a way to die to release them from their curse, being trapped between worlds because of their unnatural deaths.

David Naughton - David Kessler
Jenny Agutter - Nurse Alex Price
Griffin Dunne - Jack Goodman
John Woodvine - Dr. J. S. Hirsch
Lila Kaye - Barmaid
Joe Belcher - Truck Driver
David Schofield - Dart Player
Brian Glover - Chess Player
Rik Mayall - 2nd Chess Player
Sean Baker - 2nd Dart Player
Paddy Ryan - First Werewolf
Anne-Marie Davies - Nurse Susan Gallagher
Frank Oz - Mr. Collins / Miss Piggy
Don McKillop - Inspector Villiers
Paul Kember - Sergeant McManus

Taglines: From the director of Animal House -- a different kind of animal

Release Date: 21 August 1981

Filming Locations: 64 Coleherne Road, Earl's Court, London, England, UK

Box Office Details

Budget: $10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $3,786,512 (USA) (23 August 1981) (870 Screens)

Gross: $30,565,292 (USA)

Technical Specs

Runtime:  | Sweden: (heavily cut)

Did You Know?

Humphrey Bogart can be seen in two posters in Alex's apartment. There is one for Casablanca on the front wall in the living room, and there's a black-and-white solo shot of Humphrey Bogart in the kitchen.

Crew or equipment visible: The couple in the street are the first to be attacked by the werewolf in London. As they walk in the street past the houses, a large studio light is reflected in the windows.

[first lines]
Truck Driver: That way is Proctor, and over here is the moors. I go this way.
Jack: Thanks for the ride, sir. You have lovely sheep.
Truck Driver: Boys, keep off the moors, stick to the roads. The best to ya...
David: Thanks again.
[then to the sheep]
David: We'll miss you.
David: Bye girls...

User Review

One of my favorite films

Rating: 10/10

While backpacking through Europe, two friends, David Kessler (David Naughton) and Jack Goodman (Griffin Dunne), find themselves out on England's moors, despite advice to avoid them. When a wild animal attacks them, one of them dies, and the other just might be turning into a monster.

Director John Landis' "pet project"--he had to sit on the script for 10 years before he had enough clout from other films for this one to be greenlighted--is an excellent, seamless melding of comedy and horror, with a surprising amount of brutality and one of the most wonderfully dark, abrupt conclusions ever made.

John Irving once said that he loves to put comedy and tragedy in close conjunction because each can make the other more effective. That's just the effect that the combination has in An American Werewolf In London. Both the comedy and the horror in the film are fully committed to, unlike many attempts to merge the two. If "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" is ever true, this is an example. The comic bits wouldn't be nearly as delightful if they didn't supervene on the disturbing, and the horror wouldn't have near the impact if they didn't arrive in the context where you half-expect the next moment to be just as lighthearted and amusing. Both the initial "animal attack" and the apocalyptic ending are perfect examples of this.

Aside from that exquisite unusualness, An American Werewolf In London has many other superb characteristics. The cast is perfect. Naughton, who also starred in the seriously underrated Desire, The Vampire (aka I, Desire) (1982), carries the film with ease. The cinematography is excellent. The shots of the countryside (actually filmed in Wales) are actually both beautiful and very eerie at the same time. The make-up effects are awesome, and the transformation effects are unsurpassed. The music, which is primarily a number of different "moon" related pop songs, is also perfect, partially because of the bizarre contrasts in mood that the music creates, which echoes the comedy/tragedy juxtaposition. Unlike many other films, every scene in this one is a something I'd like to spend years exploring. The settings, the characters, the scenarios are all so fascinating.

This film is a 10 out of 10 even with one hand tied behind its back. If you enjoy it, and you're open minded about newer horror film styles, the "sequel", An American Werewolf in Paris, is also worth a watch.


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