Goofball American youths Jack and David (Griffin Dunne & David Naughton) are backpacking in England when they are attacked by a werewolf, leaving Jack dead and David barely injured, but infected with lycanthropy that takes hold of him every full moon.
After a stay in a hospital whilst having his wounds treated, David is taken to the flat of a pretty nurse (Jenny Agutter) who has taken a shine to him (if this is starting to sound a little like a "Playboy" pubescent fantasy, read on.)
In between getting hot 'n heavy with his new girlfriend, David is visited by his dead friend Jack (!) who's still a live wire even while returning from the grave in a state of decomposition. Jack, always the optimist, arrives to warn David of his impending doom.
Meanwhile, David suspects he is going crazy and hospital doc Dr. Hirsch (John Woodvine) looks into the circumstances that surround the attack. The dialogue in this is great, and fairly crackles with life and wit.
The use of the werewolf myth is well-conceived and the movie never takes itself too seriously, which is an asset in a movie that involves zombies in porn theaters and curvy nurses.
With all these strengths, isn't it a shame that they didn't pick a better actor to play the lead. Naughton, who was discovered by director John Landis doing a Coke commercial, doesn't exactly impress playing David, the titular werewolf of the title.
It's hard to buy his performance, which awkwardly melds grief, guilt, and frustration. Meanwhile, Griffin Dunne (Jack) and Jenny Agutter (Nurse Price) provide strong support. Nurse's development is questionable, though, as is her decision to pair herself up with a confused and seemingly insane man.
However, "An American Werewolf..." is strong and funny comedy-horror. The soundtrack, which employs only moon-themed songs, is an asset, as is the script, originally written by John Landis when he was only nineteen years old. Does my screenwriting movie-loving nerdy little heart proud. Watch it.
Oh my gosh! This brings back so many memories! I remember this movie from back in the 80s.ReplyDelete
Also, my brother loves the song.
Great review, Sarah! Your witty style really shines here. This is one of the few movies I enjoyed in high school that I like just as much now as I did then. I love the soundtrack, too.ReplyDelete
Hi Sarah. This movie eluded me for some reason, though I should give it a shot at some point as it's become such a cultural phenom of sort.ReplyDelete
I remember An American Werewolf in London! An oldie but goodie.ReplyDelete
Just re-watched this for the first time a few weeks ago. Still a good horror comedy although I did not find it as frightening as I remembered it.ReplyDelete