American Werewolf in London, An
(1981) Film directed by John Landis in which American youths are attacked by a werewolf while they vacation in England, and one of them is turned into a werewolf. David Kessler (David Naughton) and his friend Jack Goodman (Grifﬁn Dunne) are hitchhiking around England.
They are warned to stay away from the moors, especially on nights of the full Moon—which is precisely where they ﬁnd themselves. Alone and away from the main road, they wander through the moonlit landscape. Suddenly they are attacked by what appears to be a ferocious wolf. Jack is mauled to death. David flees and then returns for his friend, finding him dead. The wolf attacks David. But before it can kill him, a band of hunters appears and shoots the wolf dead. Just before David passes out, he sees that the body of the wolf has been transformed into the body of a young man. David awakens three weeks later in a hospital in London. The truth of the attack has been covered up: The “ofﬁcial” explanation given the medical staff in London is that the boys were attacked by an insane man. David’s wounds were cleaned and dressed before he was sent to London. David recovers and falls in love with the nurse, Alex Price (Jenny Agutter) who attends him. While still in the hospital, David begins having bizarre nightmares involving the werewolf. He has hallucinations of his dead friend, Jack, who tells him that since he did not die of his wounds,
he is cursed to become a werewolf, too. Jack is cursed to be in limbo, a kind of undead, until the new werewolf— David—is killed and the werewolf’s bloodline is broken. Jack urges David to kill himself before he makes his ﬁrst change at the full moon. David refuses to believe him. After David is discharged, Alex takes him back to her ﬂat. On the night of the full moon, David is alone in the flat and makes an excruciatingly painful change into a werewolf. He goes on a Blood rampage through London, brutally slaying six people. Jack, in increasingly advanced stages of decay, appears to him to continue urging him to commit SUICIDE. In his ﬁnal appearance, Jack brings along the six newly dead victims, all of whom are doomed to the same undead limbo. By this time, the London doctor who attended David is on to the truth, and he and Alex try to ﬁnd David to save him. They are too late. David makes a second transformation into werewolf in a London porn theater. After a scene of mayhem in Picadilly Circus, police chase the werewolf into a dead end. Alex and the doctor arrive on the scene. Just as Alex proclaims her love for David, the police shoot him dead. An American Werewolf in London was a commercial and cult success and led to AN AMERICAN Werewolf IN PARIS with a different cast in 1997. The special effects of David’s transformation from human into wolf were dramatic for the state of the art at that time. Viewers see every part of the transformation, unlike earlier ﬁlms in which most of the transformation had to be done off-camera. The film features some ﬁctional werewolf lore concerning the victims who enter limbo until the werewolf’s bloodline is severed. Overall, the ﬁlm suffers from schizophrenia: It is neither camp nor horror. There is too much silly humor for it to be horrifying, and not enough humor to be camp. Naughton gives a commendable performance, but he seems to try too hard to play a naive youth. In a now macabre touch, the credits at the end of the ﬁlm congratulate Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer on their wedding in the same year that the ﬁlm was released.
From: the Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters – Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley -a leading expert on the paranormal -Copyright © 2005 by Visionary Living, Inc.