An American Werewolf in London

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Film poster for An American Werewolf in London

An American Werewolf in London is a horror film released in 1981, written and directed by John Landis. It stars David Naughton, Griffin Dunne and Jenny Agutter.

The movie was followed by a 1997 semi-sequel, An American Werewolf in Paris, with a completely different cast.

Plot synopsis

Two American college students, David Kessler (Naughton) and Jack Goodman (Dunne), are backpacking on the Yorkshire moors when they are attacked by a large animal. Jack is killed. David, although mauled, survives and is taken to a London hospital. When he wakes up some time later, he does not remember what happened and is told of his friend's death. Things get stranger when Jack visits David in the hospital. David's friend Jack (now an animate corpse) explains that they were attacked by a werewolf on the moors and David is now a werewolf. Therefore, Jack urges David to kill himself before the next full moon—else David will turn into a monstrous killer werewolf.

Upon his release from the hospital, David moves in with his pretty young nurse, Alex Price (Agutter). Kessler is in Alex's London apartment when the full moon rises. And, of course, David turns into a werewolf. The transformation sequence, designed by Rick Baker, is often held by special_effects enthusiasts as the greatest special effect of its kind. Kessler, in the form of a werewolf, prowls the street and subways of the city, and slaughters a handful of innocent Londoners. When he wakes in the morning, he is naked and sleeping in a wolf cage at the zoo. He has no memory of his nocturnal lupine adventures. His trip home provides some much-needed comic relief.

David eventually realises that Jack was right about everything and he is responsible for the murders of the night before. He is haunted by visitations of his victims. Jack (in progressive stages of decay) appears again, telling David that he must commit suicide before he turns into a werewolf again. He does not kill himself, once again he turns into a werewolf and kills more people. Finally, the police shoot him as a werewolf and he turns back into a human when he dies.

Injokes and cameos

This film contains a number of injokes and cameos. In a scene in a pub called The Slaughtered Lamb, David and Jack meet local people played by Rik Mayall 2nd chess player, Brian Glover chess player. This film also contains a famous "running joke" by director Landis when the werewolf runs riot in Piccadilly Circus, London—the porn cinema is playing a movie called See You Next Wednesday. References to this flim appear in many of Landis' films. Another little known fact is the man being hit by the red double decker bus is none other than Landis himself! Another little known cameo one of the London policemen helping to chase and kill the werewolf is John Altman, a.k.a. "Nasty" Nick Cotton from Eastenders.

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