Wednesday, October 3, 2018

31 Days of Dread--Day 3

An American Werewolf in London; 1981; written and directed by John Landis

Werewolves invaded movie theaters in 1981, with the release of three lycanthrope-themed films including Wolfen and The Howling. But skip those two because the best of them, then and now, is John Landis's version.

David Naughton and Griffin Dunne play two college-age backpackers who cross paths with something vicious during a rainy night on the moors. Three weeks later Naughton wakes up in the hospital, only to learn that his friend Dunne is dead. (And definitely undead, too, as it turns out.) Though everyone swears the pair were attacked by an escaped lunatic, Naughton believes it was something else.

Striking the right balance between laughs and screams is a difficult feat, too often leading to something that's neither funny or scary. But An American Werewolf in London walks the tightrope without a misstep. There's even a sweet romance between Naughton and a nurse (played by Jennie Augutter) that contributes greatly to the story's touching end.

The film's can't-miss centerpiece is an impressive man-to-wolf transformation that shook audiences and critics at the time, earning it several well-deserved rewards. After more than 35 years the sequence is beginning to show its age, but is still remarkable given that none of the special effects or makeup (designed by Rick Baker) relied on CGI.

If you haven't seen An American Werewolf in London, now is the time to correct that gap. If you have, you already know this is a great time to enjoy it again.

An American Werewolf in London is available for streaming rental.

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