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.