An American Werewolf in London is a 1981 American comedy horror feature film written and directed by John Landis (Innocent Blood; Schlock). The movie stars David Naughton, Jenny Agutter (Child’s Play 2), and Griffin Dunne.
Two young Americans, David Kessler (Naughton) and Jack Goodman (Dunne) are on a backpacking holiday in England. Following an awkwardly tense visit to a village pub, The Slaughtered Lamb, the pair venture deep into the moors at night.
They are attacked by a werewolf, which results in Jack’s death and David being taken to a London hospital. Through apparitions of his dead friend and disturbing dream sequences, David becomes informed that he is a werewolf and will transform at the next full moon…
Shooting took place mostly in London but also in Surrey and Wales. The mock British soft smut film, See You Next Wednesday, shown at the fictitious Piccadilly Circus Eros cinema features actress Linzi Drew, also in Death Shock.
American Werewolf was released in the United States on August 21, 1981 and grossed $30.56 million at the box office. Critics generated mostly favourable reviews. It was one of three high-profile wolf-themed horror films released in 1981, alongside The Howling and Wolfen.
The film was followed by a belated and poorly received 1997 sequel, An American Werewolf in Paris, which featured a completely different cast and none of the original crew. An Indian film, Junoon, was also apparently inspired by this movie.
“John Landis’s film is dry, sly and endlessly quotable (‘a naked American man stole my balloons!’). As an added bonus, the special effects still look remarkable, even in the age of CGI: there’s something about the look of real latex skin stretching over metal-frame bones that no amount of processing power can possibly replicate.” Tom Huddleston, Time Out
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Main cast and characters:
- David Naughton … David Kessler
- Jenny Agutter … Nurse Alex Price
- Griffin Dunne … Jack Goodman
- John Woodvine … Dr. J.S. Hirsch
- Lila Kaye … Pub Landlady
- Frank Oz … Mr. Collins
- David Schofield … Darts Player
- Brian Glover … Chess Player
- Rik Mayall … 2nd Chess Player
- Don McKillop … Inspector Villiers
- Paul Kember … Sergeant McManus
- Michael Carter … Gerald Bringsley
- Will Leighton … Joseph
- Frank Singuineau … Ted
- Sydney Bromley … Alf
- Albert Moses … Hospital Porter
- Elizabeth Bradley … Woman at Zoo
- Alan Ford … Taxi Driver
- Christine Hargreaves … Ticket Lady
- Linzi Drew … Brenda Bristols
- John Landis (uncredited) … Man Smashed in Window
- Vic Armstrong … Bus Driver in Piccadilly Circus
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