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An American Werewolf in London (1981)

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

Director:

John Landis

Writer:

John Landis
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Popularity
2,044 ( 133)

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

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Cast

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

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Comedy | Horror

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 August 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

An American Werewolf in London See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,786,512, 23 August 1981, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$30,565,292

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$60,565,292
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (heavily cut)

Sound Mix:

DTS (re-release)| Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

David Naughton was reportedly cast because John Landis had seen him in a television commercial for Dr. Pepper. See more »

Goofs

When David and Jack are walking on the moors, their shadows are always in front of them, despite them having changed direction numerous times. Additionally, with the moon always being behind them, how are their faces being lit? See more »

Quotes

[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

All characters and events in this film are fictitious. Any similarity to actual events or persons, living, dead, or undead, is purely coincidental. See more »

Alternate Versions

For it's 21st anniversary in Australia, the film was released in its uncut form which was the same as the R rated U.S. version. See more »

Connections

Featured in Hollywood Stuntmakers: Episode #1.0 (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

Blue Moon
Music by Richard Rodgers (uncredited)
Lyrics by Lorenz Hart (uncredited)
Performed by Sam Cooke
Courtesy of R.C.A. Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
One of my favorite films
29 January 2005 | by BrandtSponsellerSee 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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