An American Werewolf in London

After being attacked on the Moors in rural northern England, a young backpacking American (David Naughton) awakes in a London hospital and falls for his nurse, Walkabout’s Jenny Agutter. This leads to some romcom hijinks, mostly involving Agutter’s Alex not being allowed to sleep with patients, and the vacationing David bored and alone in her apartment all day with no money and no where to go, trying to amuse himself. Oh, one last thing, David’s a werewolf being stalked by the ever-decaying remains of his zombie best friend. Sorry, forgot that bit.
This film is great, mostly memorable for Rick Baker’s stunning effects, featuring a transformation entirely CGI free that looks and feels unbearably painful and has yet to be equalled over thirty years later. There are some good jump scares and creative cinematography, with even a stationery phone box call shot seemingly on a circling bicycle. The subway sequence is particularly exhilarating, and the film is a lot funnier than you might remember, especially the scene in the porn theatre, with various undead suggesting the best ways for David to kill himself (we finally get to see director John Landis’ in-joke movie See You Next Wednesday, referenced in all his films, that turns out to not be that recommendable).
Unfortunately Landis doesn’t follow Spielberg’s rule of not showing too much monster, as the later scenes, before an overly abrupt ending, reveal the creature too clearly, gnawing away at some of the mystery. Frank Oz’s cameo as an American embassy official is also offputting, as I can’t take him seriously when he’s doing a voice that sounds exactly like the one he uses for Fozzie Bear in the Muppets. The most unbelievable part though? It’s possible to get a taxi far in London for £1.50. Ridiculous.
Still, thoroughly enjoyable and worth watching for Baker’s Oscar-winning make-up and effects.
Choose film 7/10
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One thought on “An American Werewolf in London

  1. Pingback: Cat People (1982) for the Cinematic Katzenjammer’s Not-So-Secret Santa Review Swap | Life Vs Film

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