American Werewolf in London (1981)

Rating: X/18

Length: 1Hr 37

Release: 8.11.1981

About: David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne), two American college students, are backpacking through Britain when a large wolf attacks them. David survives with a bite, but Jack is brutally killed. As David heals in the hospital, he’s plagued by violent nightmares of his mutilated friend, who warns David that he is becoming a werewolf. When David discovers the horrible truth, he contemplates committing suicide before the next full moon causes him to transform from man to murderous beast.


  • The visual transformation of David is mind-blowing and a work of art even now. It’s aged incredibly well and looks so much better than any CGI transformation Hollywood can provide today. It’s still the best transformation I’ve ever seen. Thanks to David Naughton’s acting, I believe it’s painful.
  • This is a film that has a perfect balance of character, relationship and plot. I love the relationship between David and Jack and I’m actually a little sad that we lose that relationship so early on. I know Griffin Dunne continues to play Jack, but there’s a dynamic shift.
  • Speaking of Jack, he has a transformation of his own and it’s amazing. Visually it’s gruesome and may cause you to flinch but it’s expertly done to gain that response.
  • I have, of late, become rather disenchanted by movie love, however this Florence Nightingale effect is actually well plotted and delivered. Their relationship is quite possibly one of the most believable from a supernatural movie perspective.
  • The opening sequence that utilises the Western’s ‘stranger walking into a saloon’ to great effect. I’m not sure all films could pull it off, but racks up the tension.
  • I could go through this film frame by frame, I love it so much. Instead I’m going to end on the dream sequences because it’s the one time where I’ve appreciated the dream fake out. The imagery is rather odd and random; I find that it’s something films forget about when it comes to dreams.


  • I’m struggling to be critical of Werewolf. It a film that has aged really well, both in terms of story and effects.
  • There perhaps is an element of gratuitous nudity (the porno theatre) but then I feel as if I’m censoring to my own tastes. At the end of the day, the movie was going to gain an X rating, so it could do what it wants.

Final Thoughts

An incredibly fun, yet gory movie that will have Londoners begging for those days. It’s a werewolf movie snout and tails above the rest.

2 thoughts on “American Werewolf in London (1981)”

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