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October 7, 2012

The Mike's Top 50 Horror Movies Countdown: #10 - An American Werewolf in London

Previously on the Countdown: Number 50 - Happy Birthday to Me  Number 49 - Prince of Darkness  Number 48 - House on Haunted Hill  Number 47 - The Monster Squad  Number 46 - Hellraiser  Number 45 - The Fog  Number 44 - Creature From the Black Lagoon  Number 43 - Zombie  Number 42 - Tales from the Crypt  Number 41 - Bubba Ho-Tep  Number 40 - Phantom of the Paradise  Number 39 - Dog Soldiers Number 38 - Pontypool  Number 37 - Dark Water  Number 36 - Army of Darkness Number 35 - The Legend of Hell House  Number 34 - Poltergeist  Number 33 - The Abominable Dr. Phibes  Number 32 - The Phantom of the Opera  Number 31 - The House of the Devil   Number 30 - Evil Dead II  Number 29 - Dead of Night  Number 28 - Carnival of Souls  Number 27 - Nosferatu  Number 26 - Candyman  Number 25 - The Texas Chain Saw Massacre  Number 24 - Horror of Dracula  Number 23 - The Wicker Man  Number 22 - Suspiria  Number 21 - The Omen  Number 20 - Spider Baby or, The Maddest Story Ever Told  Number 19 - Rosemary's Baby  Number 18 - The Devil Rides Out  Number 17 - The Blob  Number 16 - Gremlins  Number 15 - Targets  Number 14 - Fright Night   Number 13 - Frankenstein  Number 12 - Alien  Number 11 - The Shining
An American Werewolf in London
(1981, Dir. by John Landis.)
Why It's Here:
He's known for comedies, but director John Landis shows off his love for monster movies in An American Werewolf in London and creates something special.  The film expertly balances between classic werewolf traditions and modern teenage comedy, with a perfectly picked cast leading the way.  It's not necessarily a scare fest, but there are some fantastic effects and suspense, and it rates higher on this list because it might be one of the two or three most entertaining horror films out there.

The Moment That Changes Everything:
Literally, the most transformative event the film is probably the physical transformation from American to American Werewolf that happens near the middle of the film.  But my favorite moment that sets the tone for the film, at least regarding its horror, is the sequence when the unseen beast tracks a lone businessman through the London subway system.  It's a great piece of first person horror that reminds us what the film actually is.

It Makes a Great Double Feature With:
1981 saw a resurgence of werewolf films, with Joe Dante knocking out the surprisingly dark The Howling and Michael Wadleigh putting together the bizarre Wolfen.  The former is the natural companion to American Werewolf, with its tongue slightly in cheek and more great special effects.  And the ending, featuring Dee Wallace cementing herself as a horror icon, is one of a kind.

What It Means To Me:
I've always been enamored with An American Werewolf in London, but it took me a long time to really take the film seriously.  I really feel like the film has gotten better every time I've seen it, and over time I've come to recognize just how well-put together the film is. Y'know how sometimes you get that feeling about how a movie is fun but not really that good? Well, you can stop having that feeling about An American Werewolf in London. I'm here to tell you that it's bloody brilliant.

1 comment:

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