“… skirts the line of being a parody, while still managing to be absolutely terrifying.”
An American Werewolf in London is a film that I have loved for a long time, but one that I never really see talked about. The film follows David and Jack, two college-aged students who are travelling around Europe when they find themselves in northern Britain. The pair stumble across a strange pub who’s patrons seem to want nothing to do with them. The pair leave, and while walking are attacked by something. Of course we know, because of the title of the film, that they were attacked by a werewolf, and what follows is David being plagued by thoughts that he has caught the werewolf curse.
An American Werewolf in London is such a special film to me because it is a truly bizarre experience. The film is constantly skirting the line between parody and a real attempt, and also compete trash and a masterpiece. It is the definition of a campy horror film at times, with writing that seems to parody the genre, but it manages to remain honestly terrifying. The acting is simultaneously cheesy and phenomenal, but I think that really falls onto the brilliant writing. An American Werewolf in London never really lets you take a break; it gets your guard down and then scares the shit out of you. There are some truly brilliant performances in the film, some of the standouts include the group at the pub, but that’s not to say that the other performances aren’t good. It’s just strange for me to experience a film that is equally honest, as it is poking fun and that is why An American Werewolf in London is a truly special horror film.
The effects are something to be admired, and they provide quite a bit of the film’s actual horror. With a good mix of ‘body-horror’ and legitimate suspense, the film manages to keep you on the edge of your seat for long stretches of time. The effects are absolutely classic, most of which being practical, and they sometimes add to the feeling of ‘campiness’. But there are some truly brilliant effects to be seen as well; hell, the entire transformation scene is a thing of beauty. The film is also able to remain gruesome as all hell throughout its entire run. Be it the terrifying transformation scene, mutilated corpses, or heads flying into the street you are bound to have your stomach turn at least once during the film.
One thing that constantly got me to laugh was the outrageous song choices in the film. Not only were there beautifully haunting scores to accompany the more surreal scenes, but it was made sure that An American Werewolf in London used practically every song with a reference to the moon. These are legitimately good songs, and they do fit the outrageous tone of the film, but I couldn’t help but laugh when CCR’s ‘Bad Moon Rising’ started blasting midway through the film.
Really the only word to describe An American Werewolf in London would be bizarre; but that’s not to say it isn’t good. What it presents is a movie that brilliantly skirts the line of being a parody, while still managing to be absolutely terrifying.
I give An American Werwolf in London an A