1981 was the year for high-profile werewolf movies.
Following the release of Joe Dante’s The Howling and a big screen adaptation of Whitley Streiber’s Wolfen, John Landis jumped in to the mix on August 21st and blew everyone away with what is widely considered the definitive werewolf film, An American Werewolf In London.
The likeable main characters and believable friendship between them is the key to this film, which is generally noticed for the mind-blowing special effects work by Rick Baker.
But without the easy-going and realistic relationship between the characters of David Kessler and Jack Goodman, you get, well, An American Werewolf In Paris…
The story goes that two American college students are backpacking across the Yorkshire moors. As darkness falls, they decide to stop for the night at a pub called “The Slaughtered Lamb”. Jack notices a five-pointed star on the wall. When he asks about it, the pub becomes very quiet and the drinkers start acting very strange and hostile.
The pair decide to leave, but not before the others offer them pieces of advice such as “Beware the moon, lads” and “Keep to the road.”
While conversing with each other and wondering what they meant, they wander off the road, onto the moors.
In the dark night, lit only by a full moon, the pair are attacked by a large animal and are mauled badly. David wakes up in the hospital to find his friend is dead, and he begins having strange dreams, in some effectively jarring sequences of the film.
After his rough adjustment period, David’s old dead pal shows up, constsantly encouraging David to kill himself, to allow the victims of the monster to rest in peace.
Jack warns of the moon and the coming change, as he slowly decomposes…
With David convinced he is slowly losing his mind and/or becoming a werewolf, the adorable nurse he shacked up with and his doctor begin to become concerned.
One evening without warning, the transformation begins…
And it is truly an amazing feat of make-up work, that still holds up today!
Check out the entire scene in the video below :
The ground-breaking special effects work from Rick Baker and his team certainly deserve all of the credit they get for the success of this film being elevated into cult status.
An amazing job all around!
Special effects legend Rick Baker won a well-deserved Academy Award that year for his incredible work on the transformation. See the video below to learn more about how it was done in the pre-CGI era!
Of course, after the initial transformation, all hell breaks loose, as the wolf goes on a bloody rampage through London, all building up to an exciting climax, with a most abrupt ending.
There was a disappointing sequel produced in 1997, An American Werewolf In Paris, with none of the original cast or crew and heavily computer generated effects work that couldn’t even come close to the original. Talks have been circulating since 2009 about a potential (and unnecessary) remake, but seem to have been halted for the time being.
A good thing, because if there is one werewolf film that has stood the test of time, it is this one!
A cult classic like this one has spawned a plethora of fan art, and I have collected some favorites below.
An American Werewolf In London Movie Poster 2ftx3ft
A true cult classic, and one of the best of the
80s Babies, An American Werewolf In London is available in a beautiful blu-ray “Full Moon” edition from Amazon by clicking right here!
If you have never seen this classic from the crazy 80’s now is your chance.
Do your homework!
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