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An American Werewolf in London (1981)

R  |   |  Comedy, Horror  |  21 August 1981 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 59,804 users   Metascore: 60/100
Reviews: 332 user | 184 critic | 6 from Metacritic.com

Two American college students on a walking tour of Britain are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists.



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Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Joe Belcher ...
Sean Baker ...
Paddy Ryan ...
Anne-Marie Davies ...
Don McKillop ...
Paul Kember ...


Two American college 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 commit suicide to release them from their curse, being trapped between worlds because of their unnatural deaths. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Twenty years later, the Moon rises again... [20th anniversary re-issue] See more »


Comedy | Horror


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

21 August 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Un hombre lobo americano en Londres  »

Box Office


$10,000,000 (estimated)


SEK 3,103,703 (Sweden)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (heavily cut)

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


John Landis originally wanted three other songs to add to the soundtrack: Cat Stevens wouldn't allow "Moonshadow" to be used because he had stopped allowing his secular music to be licensed for films following his conversion to Islam; Bob Dylan wouldn't allow his version of "Blue Moon" to be used in an R-rated film, as he had just begun his brief conversion to Christianity; and Elvis Presley's version of "Blue Moon" proved unavailable due to the ongoing lawsuits involving his estate. See more »


When they leave the truck with the sheep, the farmer has to unbolt two bolts. When he closes it he only uses one. See more »


[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...
See more »

Crazy Credits

Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy star as themselves. See more »


Referenced in Ginger Snaps (2000) See more »


Blue Moon
Music by Richard Rodgers (uncredited)
Lyrics by Lorenz Hart (uncredited)
Performed by Bobby Vinton
Courtesy of Columbia Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

One of my favorite films
29 January 2005 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

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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