Halloween Scene: An American Werewolf In London (1981)

Well, it’s that time of year again where I try to do for 31 days what BC over at the wonderful Horror Movie A Day has been doing for years. I already thought I had failed because I was under the impression that today was the 3rd for a good chunk of the day. Anyway, on October 1st I watched a movie that a lot of people love to kick things off for this year’s October horror reviews: John Landis’ An American Werewolf In London. Three quick bits of trivia about me and this movie: 1) I don’t really like werewolf movies, 2) I saw the much derided sequel An American Werewolf In Paris in high school and bought the soundtrack but remember nothing about it and 3) several years ago I got to interview John Landis in person about Masters Of Horror, I had about 2 minutes notice and was in way over my head, I’ll post it later this week if I can find the file.

Another bit of info? I didn’t like this werewolf movie either. I’m not sure what it is about this subgenre that I find so boring. Maybe it’s that it takes so long for the characters to realize that the lead is a werewolf when we already know it’s the case. Maybe it’s because few movies make the wolves look good enough to be real and scary? When so much of your mythology revolves around transformation, make sure it looks good! I’ve seen a few that I liked like Ginger Snaps (maybe I’ll check that out again for this year’s October fest) and others that just didn’t do it for me like Dog Soldiers. I had many of the same problems with this movie even though it had interesting characters, great special effects and some pretty creepy dream sequences.

I tried to keep my attitude good going in because I wanted to like this movie if for no other reason than it’s a vintage Landis flick that lots of people seem to like, but it didn’t help. Actually, because this movies is so beloved and included on so many best of horror lists, I had seen most of the good parts already. I knew that David would wind up becoming the werewolf and that his friend would die. I also knew that the friend would start appearing to him in various places. I’d also seen most of the transformation scenes which, while amazing, were spoiled out of context.

I want to clarify that this is not a bad movie, it’s just not one that hit many of my buttons. I would absolutely recommend this to any newbie horror fans who haven’t watched too many lists or developed an opinion about werewolf flicks. Give it a whirls and see how it plays with you!

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