(Review originally written at 10 October 2008)

What this movie does very well, and what it is so well known for, is the fact that it perfect blends the comedy with its horror, without letting the one element weaken the other. Because for instance in lot of other horror/comedies, the comedy really weakens the horror. It makes them ineffective as scary and gory ones but this really isn't the case with "An American Werewolf in London".

Perhaps this is because the comedy within this movie is more subtle and B-movie like. The movie doesn't take itself too seriously which allows the movie its comedy to work out so effective and subtle. John Landis obviously made the movie deliberately B-movie like in parts, especially by picking not the best actors and by not giving them the best dialog imaginable. It on top of that features some great typical B-movie like moments, which perhaps is only truly notable for the genre fans and most other people will probably write it off as lame and simplistic.

Just because the movie features humor and has B-movie elements in it doesn't mean that this movie is ineffective as an horror movie. In that genre this movie also really stands out. It does this by featuring some great imaginative and gory looking sequences. but it also does this not in the least with its make-up effects. Especially the dream sequences within the movie are quite memorable. This movie was actually the first to receive and Oscar for its make-up. Before this, best make-up wasn't even a category at the Oscar's, believe it or not. But thanks to this movie the academy realized that this was a profession to take seriously and to include in the award ceremony. The award of course went to legendary make-up artist Rick Baker. It was the first out of 6 Oscar's he has so far received during his career.

The movie is actually surprisingly gory. It's just not something you would expect from an horror/comedy but this movie is basically just as gory, if not gorier, than most other 'serious' genre movies. Director John Landis actually now days is surprised how gory this movie actually is when he looks back at it.

Of course the movie doesn't feature a too complicated plot (luckily so) but it nevertheless know to pick an original approach with its story and all. It doesn't feature an usual werewolf plot in which the victim is battling his transformation during full moon and is plotting to kill the werewolf that bite him in order to lift the curse. I won't tell what the actual plot of the movie is, since it will probably spoil to much but fact is that it's original, which also means that the movie doesn't end in a typical 'Hollywood-way'.

When watching this movie it actually becomes more painfully obvious how bad its sequel "An American Werewolf in Paris", which got made 16 years(!) after this movie, actually is. It tries to achieve the same thing as this movie, by picking the same type of approach but in moments like that it becomes obvious that directing is a real important job and that some directors are simply more talented than others. Anthony Waller just obviously ain't no John Landis! John Landis would also later impress with the legendary Michael Jackson video-clip for the hit song 'Thriller'. The special make-up effects again came from Rick Baker. The clip definitely shows similarities to this movie in especially its style.

A great as well as enjoyable unique werewolf movie!


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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