American Werewolf in London: John Landis Oscar-Winning Film Starring Griffin Dunne

Long Island schlemiels David Kessler (David Naughton) and Jack Goodman (Griffin Dunne, better known as producer) go to Europe.  But when they wander off the roads into the desolate moors of England, these two Yanks run into all kinds of problems.


Jack gets devoured by a large, furry beast.   Surviving the attack, David seems fine, but he’s a bit worried about how he’ll behave the next time there’s full moon.  Among the fun element are Jack’s periodic reappearances, in state of progressive decay, in which he entreats David to kill himself before things really get bad and ugly.


Writer-director John Landis, in his pre-“Twilight Zone” era, brings humor to this quirky offbeat horror tale, spoofing up all the gory proceedings and playfully piling on the special effects. Landis was allowed to make the picture after scoring big at the box-office with several hits:  “National Lampoon’s Animal House” (1978) and “The Blues Brothers” (1980).


At the time, some critics complained that the last reel was too violent, though by today’s standards, it is not.


The sequel, “An American Werewolf in Paris,” in 1997, is not as good.


Oscar Alert


Rick Baker’s impressive makeup, which is responsible for the transformations of both characters, won an Oscar in the first year of that category’s existence.


Actor Alert


Martin Scorsese makes such allusions to the Griffin Dunne “werewolf” character in his brilliant noir comedy “After Hours,” (1985), in which Dunne stars the computer processor-protagonist.




David Kessler (David Naughton)

Alex Price (Jenny Agutter)

Jack Goodman (Griffin Dunne)

Dr. Hirsch (John Woodvine)

Chess Player (Brian Glover)

Dart Player (David Schofield)

Barmaid (Lila Kaye)

Sgt. McManus (Paul Kember)

Inspector Villers (Don McKilop)

Mr. Collins (Frank Oz)