I don’t say this often but An American Werewolf in London is a perfect horror film. It has everything going for it: A smart script, great acting, a sense of humor and eye-popping special effects. Director/Writer John Landis [Twilight Zone: The Movie, Thriller] is at the helm of this visual feast that surprises and delights at every turn. Kudos to cinematographer Robert Paynter [Thriller, Little Shop of Horrors remake] for such beautiful color and lighting that looks glorious in the restored version of the film.
American Werewolf won the Oscar in 1982 for Best Makeup that was done by the legendary Rick Baker [Videodrome, Men in Black]. Even by today’s standards some of the visual effects hold up really well. This is especially true of the main character’s dead friend who continues to decompose throughout the film. I also love Baker’s werewolf transformation scene as well as when the wolf is running through the streets of London. It’s classic stuff!
But the thing that really holds this movies together is the incredible performance of David Naughton as David Kessler, the college stunt who is bitten by a werewolf and survives, only to begin his transformation into a werewolf himself. Naughton gets everything right with nuanced emotions that draw you into his struggle and make you really care what happens to him. The rest of the cast is great too and serve to enhance Naughton’s fine performance.
So, what are you waiting for? If you’ve not seen this film yet, put it on the top of your list. You won’t be disappointed. A sequel, of sorts, entitled An American Werewolf in Paris was done in 1997. It’s pretty good but it doesn’t come anywhere near the genius of the original.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.