#138 -- "A" Challenge: An American Werewolf in London (1981)

Director: John Landis
Rating: 4/5

It's always seemed to me that this movie is a pretty big deal in the horror world. It seems that it has a big following and a lot of fans. So I feel pretty stupid saying that this is the first time I've seen it. I don't know how it eluded me for so long, but it is what it is. Anyways, it's about two friends--David and Jack--who are backpacking through Europe. They plan on heading over to Rome when they're finished with London, in hopes that Jack's crush will meet them there and give Jack a little somthin' somethin'. In order to get out of the cold, they go into a little pub called The Slaughtered Lamb. It even has a picture of an impaled lamb's head over the door. The pub patrons are not very inviting, and when asked about a pentagram engraved on the wall, they get a little bit stiff. They're not complete assholes, though, so they warn the friends before they leave. They tell them to beware the moon, stay away from the moors, and keep to the road. Being young and adventurous, they ignore this advice. They stray from the road, head directly into the moors, and ignore the moon altogether. That is until they hear a strange howling and growling nearby. Fearing that there's a wild dog about, they start running. But there are some things that people just can't outrun. Jack is killed by the beast and David is hospitalized and remains unconscious for three weeks. Everything seems pretty normal at first, until he is visited by his dead friend Jack. Jack lets him know that they were attacked by a werewolf, and not by an escaped lunatic (as the police report stated). Since Jack died a very unnatural death, he's stuck in limbo, and the only way for him to move on is to destroy the werewolf's bloodline. Jack tells David that he is the last werewolf. David doesn't believe it for a while, and just thinks he's gone crazy. That is until two days later, on the full moon, when he transforms into a monster and kills several people around London.

The transformation scenes are actually pretty good. We see almost every bit of the transformation, and it isn't as bad as you might think the '80s would produce. The werewolf itself, though, is a different story. It's not that bad, but it's not that great either. It's kind of weird looking. Anyways, David has to figure out how keep himself from killing everyone in London, while keeping his new girlfriend (the nurse who cared for him in the hospital) safe. He is constantly visited by Jack, who keeps trying to convince David to take his own life. He introduces him to all the people he killed, and they each try to convince him as well. He tries once, after he woke up naked in a zoo, but he just can't do it. So, in the end, David will have to be stopped the same way as all the werewolves before him.

I enjoyed this one, of course. It had all the '80s cheese that I love (well, not all of it, but it had enough). The werewolf, like I said, looked weird, but it wasn't bad enough to ruin the movie for me. I liked David, because he was a cool guy with a little problem. I can imagine that this was a very big deal when it was released in 1981, but seeing it for the first time in 2012 kind of dimmed it for me, I guess. If I had seen it when I was a kid, I'd probably still be obsessed today. It's amazing what time can do to a good movie. I'm not really sure why, though. Anyways, I really liked it and I understand why it's gotten such a great following.

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