An American Werewolf in London

Critics Consensus

Terrifying and funny in almost equal measure, John Landis' horror-comedy crosses genres while introducing Rick Baker's astounding make-up effects.



Total Count: 52


Audience Score

User Ratings: 115,402
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Movie Info

While wandering the English moors on vacation, college yanks David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) happen upon a quaint pub with a mysterious patronage who warn them not to leave the road when walking after dark. Irreverent of such advice as characters in horror films always are, the two decide to find a short cut....David wakes up in the hospital with a nasty bite wound to his shoulder; the freshly deceased, and rapidly decomposing, Jack arrives soon after to deliver the grim news that, unless he commits suicide, David will become a werewolf when the moon is full. David dismisses the encounter as a hallucination, but all indicators point to lycanthrope; evenings of barking and bloodletting follow closely behind. While the story is thin and much of the tongue-in-cheek humor is overdone, there are plenty of genuine jolts thanks to makeup guru Rick Baker's eye-popping special effects. The werewolf, resembling a cross between a bear and a wolverine, appears frighteningly real, and, given the fantastic premise, the gore is most convincing (although surprisingly and refreshingly scant). The hospital dream sequences are creative, and the scenes in which the werewolf runs rampant through downtown London are particularly good. In all, An American Werewolf in London is an original, atmospheric film that manages both to scare and amuse. While dismissed by most American critics upon its release, the film managed to secure a place in the annals of American cinema when Baker won an Academy Award for his amazing effects and creature designs. ~ Jeremy Beday, Rovi

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David Naughton
as David Kessler
Griffin Dunne
as Jack Goodman
Jenny Agutter
as Nurse Alex Price
John Woodvine
as Dr. J.S. Hirsch
Brian Glover
as Chess player
David Schofield
as Dart Player
Lila Kaye
as Barmaid
Paul Kernber
as Sgt. McManus
Paul Kember
as Sgt. McManus
Don McKillop
as Insp. Villiers
Frank Oz
as Mr. Collins
Anne Marie Davies
as Nurse Gallagher
Paula Jacobs
as Mrs. Kessler
Gordon Sterne
as Mr. Kessler
Joe Belcher
as Truck Driver
Rik Mayall
as 2nd Chess Player
Sean Baker
as 2nd Dart Player
Paddy Ryan
as 1st Werewolf
Albert Moses
as Hospital Porter
Claudine Bowyer
as Creepy Little Girl
Johanna Crayden
as Creepy Little Girl
Nina Carter
as Herself
Geoffrey Burridges
as Harry Berman
Brenda Cavendish
as Judith Browns
Mary Tempest
as Sean's Wife
Cynthia Powell
as Sister Hobbs
Michael Carter
as Gerald Bringsley
Elizabeth Bradley
as Woman in Zoo
Rufus Deakin
as Little Boy with Balloons
Lesley Ward
as Little Boy's Mother
George Hilsdon
as News Vendor
Gerry Lewis
as Man in Bus Queue
Dennis J. Fraser
as 2nd Man in Bus Queue
Alan Ford
as Taxi Driver
Peter B. Ellis
as Bobby in Trafalgar Square
Denise Stephens
as Girl in Trafalgar Square
Linzi Drew
as Brenda Bristols
Lucinenne Morgan
as Lance Boyle
Gypsy Dave Cooper
as Chris Bailey
Susan Spencer
as George Bailey
Ken Sicklen
as Bobby at Cinema
John Salthouse
as Bobby at Cinema
John Altman
as Policeman
Keith Hodiak
as Policeman
John Owens
as Policeman
Roger Rowland
as Policeman
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News & Interviews for An American Werewolf in London

Critic Reviews for An American Werewolf in London

All Critics (52) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (45) | Rotten (7)

  • I suspect Landis hoped to keep moviegoers eerily disarmed with an unpredictable mixture of wacky and terrifying touches. Unfortunately, his own touch... is so slack and uncertain that the movie ends up dramatically shapeless.

    May 8, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Not just gory but actually frightening, not just funny but clever, 'American Werewolf...' has its flaws, but these are outweighed by the film's many, mighty strengths.

    Oct 30, 2009 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • But in a "comedy horror" picture, the "horror" bits aren't supposed to be this scary. He would have been better off dispensing with the comedy altogether.

    Oct 30, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Toby Young

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • Scary-funny is an acquired taste. For me, it tends to be a recipe in which you can't taste either of the constituent ingredients. The big man-to-wolf transformation scene is still a marvel.

    Oct 30, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • A clever mixture of comedy and horror which succeeds in being both funny and scary, An American Werewolf in London possesses an overriding eagerness to please that prevents it from becoming off-putting.

    Sep 23, 2007 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Top Critic
  • It's a failure, less because the odd stylistic mix doesn't take (it does from time to time, and to striking effect) than because Landis hasn't bothered to put his story into any kind of satisfying shape.

    Sep 23, 2007 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for An American Werewolf in London

  • Dec 02, 2012
    I think that "An American Werewolf in London" could have used more of a focus on its storytelling rather than its visual effects, but then again, maybe not. It half-parodies the werewolf films that came before it by following along their narrative arcs, so deviating from the classic formula might have made it less effective. Both its humor and scares are of the mildest kind, and though it's slightly memorable for its groundbreaking makeup and special effects, "An American Werewolf in London" is just pretty average. I think that the ending's abruptness might be its funniest part.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer
  • Sep 30, 2012
    "An American Werewolf In London" is a blast of hilarity, fun characters, and a legendary wolf transformation that will make you howl! This is not a scary film (although, it does have it's moments), but oh what a blast this film is!
    ZACHO D Super Reviewer
  • Sep 17, 2012
    This film felt like a mix of many other prior and later films. The concepts and some scenes were similar to those in Fearless Vampire Killers. I actually enjoyed this one though. The scare tactics were much like those in the second poltergeist. And the humor was so similar to a movie I love the original Fright Night. The credits to this film had campy fun music. This was placed right after a sad scene. Without a fade out or anything. Almost as if Landis didn't know what he was doing. But he did, and the credits even added to the tune of the film. I recommend this as a late night comedy, for almost every age group. This is (for a lack of a better word) a fun movie.
    Daniel D Super Reviewer
  • May 27, 2012
    John Landis was at the peak of his talents here including Rick Baker. The film is a hybrid of genres that most films to this day still struggle with this blending. I hear whispers of a reboot with Max Landis but I wish they would leave this film alone as it is a film of its time. The film still has relevance and is hilarious and very sharp with the Werewolf scenes, the transformation scene is just incredible. I wish more horror films could aspire to this timeless status, just one of those films that will live on. 30-12-2017.
    Brendan N Super Reviewer

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