Monday, March 16, 2015

Short Attention Span Review: An American Werewolf in London (1981)

I'm keeping with my "horror movies from the 80s" theme for this latest Short Attention Span Review, and it concerns the finest werewolf movie of them all.  Yes, we're talking about An American Werewolf in London.  Yes, we're talking about a genuine classic, a horror movie for the ages.  Engaging, frightening, humorous, dramatic, and utterly unique, I don't think I can heap enough praise on this John Landis masterpiece in my review.  I strongly believe that only The Howling (also released in 1981) could challenge this one for werewolf movie supremacy, and as much as I like that horror gem from Joe Dante, I think An American Werewolf in London easily takes the crown.  The performances are stellar, with David Naughton somehow offering up a gripping star turn that is rather puzzling when you consider that he never managed to do anything half as good afterward.  Griffin Dunne nearly steals the show as Naughton's undead best pal and Jenny Agutter is equally impressive as the female lead.  There are wealth of supporting roles that all add to the overall success of the picture, but perhaps the biggest star of the show is the epic special effects work courtesy of Rick Baker.  Seriously, the effects are so gnarly that this movie captured the first ever Academy Award for Best Make-Up and it boasts a transformation sequence that has yet to be topped thirty-four years later.  In addition to the legendary effects work, we have a tragic love story, a wonderful soundtrack, a main character who is haunted by his undead victims and a series of gruesome (and absurd) nightmares, a wealth of subversive humor, and lots and lots of bloody carnage.  The opening reel is sheer perfection and the movie never misses a beat, rocketing toward an orgy of violence and dismay that gives way to a tender closing.  An American Werewolf in London isn't just the best werewolf movie I've ever seen, it's also one of the best damn horror films ever made. 

Final Grade: A+
Everyone needs a best friend--unless they're dead and they
keep showing up and demanding that you kill yourself.

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