IMDb Rating
An American Werewolf in London
220px-An American Werewolf in London poster
A masterpiece of terror
Directed By
John Landis
Produced By
George Folsey, Jr.,
Jon Peters,
Peter Guber
Written By
John Landis
David Naughton,
Jenny Agutter,
Griffin Dunne,
John Woodvine
Music By
Elmer Bernstein
Robert Paynter
Editing By
Malcolm Campbell

Distributed By
Universal Pictures
Release Date(s)
August 21, 1981
97 minutes
Flag of the United Kingdom United Kingdom,
Flag of the United States United States
Followed by

An American Werewolf in London is a 1981 horror comedy film written and directed by John Landis, and starring David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, and Griffin Dunne.

Plot Edit

Two American college students, David Kessler and Jack Goodman, are backpacking across the Yorkshire moors, when they are attacked by a large, unknown animal. Jack is killed, but David survives the mauling and is taken to a hospital in London. When he wakes up three weeks later, he does not remember, what happened and is told of his friend's death. Things get stranger, when he is visited by Jack's ghost, which takes the distressing form of a reanimated corpse, who explains that they had been attacked by a werewolf, suggesting that David himself is now a werewolf. Jack urges David to kill himself before the next full moon, not only because Jack is cursed to exist in a state of living death for as long as the bloodline of the werewolf that attacked them survives, but also to prevent David from inflicting the same fate on his eventual victims.

Upon his release from the hospital, David moves in with the pretty young nurse, Alex Price, who grew infatuated with him in the hospital. He then stays in Alex's London apartment, where they later make love for the first time. When the full moon rises, as Jack had warned, he begins to feel excruciating pain before stripping nude and turning into a werewolf. In this form, David prowls the street and subways of the city and slaughters six innocent Londoners. When he wakes in the morning, he is naked on the floor of the wolf cage at the zoo with no memory of his nocturnal lupine adventures, and not at all attacked by the resident wolves.

David eventually realizes, that Jack was right about everything and that he is responsible for the murders of the night before. Despite being in an advanced stage of decay, Jack returns for another visit, this time accompanied by David's victims from the previous night. They all insist, that he commit suicide before turning into a werewolf again. Whilst talking with them, night falls and, consequently, David turns into a werewolf again and goes on another killing spree. Following a chase through London, he is cornered in an alley by the police when Alex arrives to calm him down by telling him that she loves him. Though apparently temporarily softened, he is shot and killed when he lunges forward, returning to human form in front of a grieving Alex, as he dies.

Cast Edit

  • David Naughton as David Kessler
  • Jenny Agutter as Nurse Alex Price
  • Griffin Dunne as Jack Goodman
  • John Woodvine as Dr. J.S. Hirsch
  • Lila Kaye as Barmaid
  • Frank Oz as Mr. Collins
  • John Landis as Man smashed in window
  • David Schofield as Dart Player
  • Brian Glover as Chess Player
  • Rik Mayall as Man in Pub (2nd Chess Player)
  • Don McKillop as Inspector Villiers
  • Paul Kember as Sergeant McManus
  • Linzi Drew as Brenda Bristols
  • Wes Creven as Izzy

List of deathsEdit

List of deaths in An American Werewolf in London.

Name Cause of Death Killer On Screen Notes
Jack Goodman Mauling: Mauled to death Man/Werewolf Yes Returned as an undead.
Man/Werewolf Shot to death Pubgoers Yes
Deer Eaten David Keesler Yes Dream
Mr. Keesler Shot Nightmare Demons Yes Dream
Mrs. Keesler Shot Nightmare Demons Yes Dream
Max Keesler Shot Nightmare Demons Yes Dream
Rachel Keesler Shot Nightmare Demons Yes Dream
Nurse Alex Price Exsanguination/Organ Damage: Stabbed Nightmare Demon Yes Dream. Was still alive in real world
Harry Berman Mauling: Mauled to death David Keesler/Werewolf Yes Returned as an undead.
Judith Browns Mauling: Mauled to death David Keesler/Werewolf Yes Returned as an undead.
Alf Mauling: Mauled to death David Keesler/Werewolf No Returned as an undead.
Ted Mauling: Mauled to death David Keesler/Werewolf No Returned as an undead.
Joseph Mauling: Mauled to death David Keesler/Werewolf No Returned as an undead.
Gerald Bringsley Mauling: Mauled to death David Keesler/Werewolf Yes Returned as an undead.
4 Men Devourment: Eaten alive by a werewolf David Keesler/Werewolf Yes In Movie Theater
Usher Devourment: Eaten alive by a werewolf David Keesler/Werewolf Yes In Movie Theater
Inspector Villiers Decapitation: Head bitten off David Keesler/Werewolf Yes
David Keesler/Werewolf Shot Bobbies Yes

Production notes Edit

An American Werewolf in Londonhorror

A still from a nightmare sequence in the film.

John Landis came up with the story while he worked in Yugoslavia as a production assistant on the film Kelly's Heroes (1970). He and a Yugoslavian member of the crew were driving in the back of a car on location when they came across a group of gypsies. The gypsies appeared to be performing rituals on a man being buried so that he would not "rise from the grave." This made Landis realize that he would never be able to confront the undead and gave him the idea for a film in which a man would go through the same thing. Landis wrote the first draft of An American Werewolf in London in 1969 and shelved it for over a decade. Two years later, Landis wrote, directed, and starred in his debut film, Schlock, which developed a cult following. Landis developed box-office status in Hollywood through the successful comedy films The Kentucky Fried Movie, National Lampoon's Animal House and The Blues Brothers before securing $10 million financing for his werewolf film. Financiers believed that Landis' script was too frightening to be a comedy and too funny to be a horror film.

Reception Edit

The budget of An American Werewolf in London was reportedly $10 million. The US box office totaled $30,565,292.

The film was also met with critical acclaim. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 89% based on reviews from 46 critics, compiled retrospectively. Kim Newman of Empire magazine praised the film, saying "Carnivorous lunar activities rarely come any more entertaining than this". Tom Huddlestone from Time Out also gave the film a positive review, saying the film was "Not just gory but actually frightening, not just funny but clever". Halliwell's Film Guide described the film as a "curious but oddly endearing mixture of horror film and spoof, of comedy and shock, with everything grist to its mill including tourist Britain and the wedding of Prince Charles. The special effects are notable, and signalled new developments in this field."

Roger Ebert's review was less favourable; he stated that "An American Werewolf in London seems curiously unfinished, as if director John Landis spent all his energy on spectacular set pieces and then didn't want to bother with things like transitions, character development, or an ending." The American Film Institute nominated it for ranking on its 100 Laughs list.


  • The ending of An American Film in London was referenced to in the Masters of Horror episode, Deer Woman, which also featured the band from The Blues Brothers, meaning these films share the same universe.
    • The three films were directed John Landis.

Videos Edit

An American Werewolf in London Trailer

An American Werewolf in London Trailer

External links Edit