|American Werewolf in London|
Actors: David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Griffin Dunne, John Woodvine, Lila Kaye
Director: John Landis
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
Remember back in the early 1980s when special-effects makeup artists were tripping over themselves to create the next big effect? The Howling boasted a fantastic werewolf transformation scene courtesy of makeup wizard Rob ... more »
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Member Movie Reviews
Marleen M. from WHEELING, WV
Reviewed on 5/1/2009...
I have this movie on vhs if anyone is interested.
1 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
The greatest Werewolf film ever!
Ryan Harvey | Los Angeles, CA USA | 07/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"1981 was The Year of the Werewolves...the furry fiends leaped onto movie screens in three major films: "The Howling," "Wolfen," and the classic of the genre, "An American Werewolf in London." There has never been a greater werewolf film, there has never been a better transformation scene, and few horror movies can match the entertaining mixture of humor and scares that writer/direction John Landis ("Animal House," "The Blues Brothers") achieved here.Although there had been humor in horror films before this movie, "An American Werewolf in London" showed once and for all that having comedy in a horror film didn't mean that the film would lose out in the scare department. Landis makes it clear that the film is NOT a comedy -- the horror scenes are carried with dead-seriousness and shocking impact -- but there is so much quirky humor surrounding these scenes that the film becomes incredibly likable and buoyant. Most of the laughs come from seeing the old movie werewolf premise dropped into the modern day and watching the characters try to deal with it.Actors Griffin Dunne and David Naughton, neither of whom had been in a movie before, create a wonderful 'ordinary guy' feeling to their characters of two young American boys backpacking through Europe. In rural England, they have a nasty encounter with a legendary monster, and Naughton faces the consequences of being bitten when he returns to London and takes up living with a pretty nurse (Jenny Agutter).The transformation scene is justly famous and a milestone in visual effects. Make-up wizard Rick Baker lets the viewers watch a real-time twisting of a human body into a wolf shape: limbs stretch, snouts pop, hair grows, the body contorts...it's amazing to watch. (And on DVD, you can watch it over and over and over again). Even computer graphics can't achieve an effect as startling as this one.This DVD offers some nice extras. The image is good, and the 5.1 Surround Sound is decent (although there's not a lot of back speaker sound). Actors Naughton and Dunne do feature commentary on the film, and provide some interesting information and sound as if they were having a great time reliving the experience. I wish that Landis had been on the commentary as well, but you can hear his thoughts on the film in an 18-minute interview. Landis is an absolute hoot to listen to; the guy is as funny as his movie, and he absolutely bursts with ideas and observations. To go along with the Landis interview is an 11-minute interview with make-up maestro Rick Baker. He provides a fascinating look at crafting what he calls "the coolest werewolf film ever made." Also included is a vintage featurette on the making of the film, although it's only about five minutes long (but you get more of wise-cracking John Landis), ten minutes of archival footage of Baker making a cast of David Naughton's hand, and an assortment of storyboards, outtakes, and production photos."An American Werewolf in London" is a major turning point in horror films and visual effects -- and even over twenty years later, it is still one of the most entertaining movies of its decade. It hasn't aged at all, and this DVD lets you experience it the way it should be seen (and in the company of wild-man John Landis!)"
Holds up well...
Robert J. Clark | NY, NY United States | 01/09/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"American Werewolf is one of THE seminal werewolf films. Period. It is certainly in the top 3 along with Universal Studios brilliant "The Wolfman". Even after 20+ years, it holds up exceptionally well. Rick Baker's effects, particularly the transformation and the werewolf in Picadilly, still amaze. And in HD they look even better.
The HD DVD version has a nice picture. Nice, not great. The stock itself was mediocore and the HD conversion shows the flaws of the original film stock. The picture is a little softer though not as grainy as some other 80s films blown up to HD. The sound quality is very nice and is definitely an improvement over the SD DVD.
The extras are nice, particularly the effects feature.
Overall, a really nice job done on a terrific film. Definitely recommended for horror fans!"
A truly great monster movie.
Christian Hokenson | Burbank, CA United States | 09/11/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"That's the way this film was advertised when it came out in 1981, in the classic Universal monster sense "a monster movie." As a child of divorce, I had a weekend Dad that would take my sister and me to any movie regardless of rating (well, within limits) and this one scared us silly. I remember sitting in the theater and watching the transformation (having seen Lon Chaney Jr.'s transformation in "The Wolf Man" I was familiar with the lineage of the genre and the example this film had to live up to... having seen "The Howling" later (not much later, as the films nearly competed with each other theatrically) I was a huge fan of Rob Bottin and his mentor, Rick Baker (not to mention the late, great Dick Smith and the master of splatter, Tom Savini), I was just glued to the screen during one of the coolest effects of all time, just awed by what was happening, and just freaked at the believability of it all when compared to the stop-motion transformation of the Chaney makeup) not to mention the scene with David Naughton ("be a Pepper! Drink Dr. Pepper!) and Jenny Agutter in bed (not to mention the shower)... yowza! (Well, I was 11).
The only thing that's ever bugged me about this film is the lack of what's supposed to be a supremely gory scene that Landis cut out because it overwhelmed the scene that came after it (supposedly, audiences were so grossed out and shocked that they babbled through the entire dialogue scene that followed David waking up in the wolf's pen at the zoo): the scene was the expanded murders of the bums by the dock, and I don't think it makes it to this new DVD version of the film (which is a bummer, because the expanded gore in Verhoven's Robocop (Criterion edition) actually plays better than the MPAA approved version).
In any case, this is a truly great "monster movie" in every sense of the word... it's gross, funny, sexy, exploitative in many ways (the book "Splatter Movies" calls it gore porn), truly a Landis film by dint of it's "in" jokes and orgy of automotive mayhem, and it offers great acting and casting (even in small roles like the Pakistani shift worker at the hospital and the punks on the London Underground). Just an all-around fun movie, with truly amazing, and Oscar-winning effects (still looking awesome and believable... nothing digital comes close!! I'll say it again: digital just ain't there yet... the transformation looks bone crunching, painful, horrific, and stretches the imagination in more ways than one). Bottom line, I've waited for this damn DVD forever... the first edition DVD was slop and went out of print so fast, I was lucky to find a video store copy to rent. No extras on that one... but this one is the one to own."