David Naughton & Griffin Dunne

David Naughton & Griffin Dunne


An American Werewolf in London is a 1981 American-British comedy/horror film, written and directed by John Landis. It stars David Naughton, Griffin Dunne, and Jenny Agutter. The movie won the 1981 Saturn Award for Best Horror Film and an Academy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Makeup. The film was one of three high-profile werewolf films released in 1981, alongside The Howling and Wolfen. Over the years, the film has accumulated a cult following and has been referred to as a cult classic.

Tagline: John Landis – the director of Animal House brings you a different kind of animal.


Rick Baker

Rick Baker

Blending the macabre with a wicked sense of humor, director John Landis (National Lampoon’s Animal House) delivers a contemporary take on the classic werewolf tale in this story of two American tourists who, while traveling in London, find their lives changed forever when a viscious wolf attacks them during a full moon. Featuring groundbreaking, Academy Award-winning make-up by Rick Baker (The Wolfman).


The film was followed by a 1997 sequel, An American Werewolf in Paris, which featured a completely different cast and none of the original crew.

John Landis

John Landis

John Landis came up with the story while he worked in Yugoslavia as a production assistant on the film Kelly’s Heroes. 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 could never be able to confront the undead and gave him the idea for a film in which a man of his own age would go through such a thing.

John 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

Beware of the Moon

Beware of the Moon

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.

Michael Jackson cited this film as his reason for working with Landis on his subsequent music videos, including Thriller and Black or White.

The various prosthetics and fake, robotic body parts used during the film’s painful, extended werewolf transformation scenes and on Griffin Dunne when his character returns as a bloody, mangled ghost impressed the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences so much that they decided to create a new awards category at the Oscars specifically for the film – Outstanding Achievement in Makeup. Since the 1981 Academy Awards, this has been a regular category each year. During the body casting sessions, the crew danced around David Naughton singing, “I’m a werewolf, you’re a werewolf…wouldn’t you like to be a werewolf, too” in reference to his days as a pitchman for Dr Pepper.

Blueray DVD

Blueray DVD


  • The film was produced by Lycanthrope Productions, a lycanthrope being a person with the power to turn himself into a wolf.
  • The film’s ironically upbeat songs all refer in some way to the moon such as: Bobby Vinton’s slow and soothing version of “Blue Moon”, which plays during the opening credits, Van Morrison’s “Moondance” as David and Alex make love for the first time, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising” as David is nearing the moment of changing to the werewolf, a soft, bittersweet ballad version of “Blue Moon” by Sam Cooke during the agonizing wolf transformation and The Marcels’ doo-wop version of “Blue Moon” over the end credits. Landis failed to get permission to use Cat Stevens’ “Moonshadow” and Bob Dylan’s “Moonshiner”, both artists feeling the film to be inappropriate. It was stated on the DVD commentary by David Naughton and Griffin Dunne that they were not sure why Landis could not get the rights to Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London” – a song that would have been more appropriate for the film (perhaps Landis dismissed the song on the grounds that it didn’t have the word “moon” in the title).
  • Landis’ signature in-joke of the fictitious film See You Next Wednesday can be seen when the werewolf runs rampant in Piccadilly Circus, playing at the porn cinema and as a poster in the London Underground train station where Gerald Bringsley is attacked by the werewolf.
  • References to the film have appeared in many of Landis’ other films and most notably in Michael Jackson’s Thriller as the sounds of Jackson transforming into a werewolf are from the film.
  • Although not part of this film, in the Masters of Horror episode entitled “Deer Woman”, directed and co-written by Landis, when the protagonist mentions “a series of freak wolf attacks in London in 1981”, a brief but clear reference to An American Werewolf in London. According to its trading card insert, “‘Deer Woman’ is a very much a part of An American Werewolf in London canon.”
  • American werewolf cinema scene

    Cameos and Bit Parts:

    In the Piccadilly Circus sequence, the man hit by a car and thrown through a store window, is Landis himself.

    As in most of the director’s movies, Frank Oz makes an appearance: first as Mr. Collins from the American embassy in the hospital scene, and later as Miss Piggy in a dream sequence, when David’s younger siblings watch a scene from The Muppet Show that was never shown in the United States.

    Actors in bit parts who were already – or would become – more well-known include the two chess players David and Jack meet in the pub, played by the familiar character actor Brian Glover and then-rising comedian and actor Rik Mayall. One of the policemen helping to chase and kill the werewolf is John Altman, who would later achieve fame as “Nasty” Nick Cotton in EastEnders.   Alan Ford – later to appear in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch – plays a taxi driver. The policeman in the cinema is played by John Salthouse and the policeman in Piccadilly Circus is played by Peter Ellis. Both Salthouse and Ellis appeared in police drama The Bill.

    A radio adaptation of the film was broadcast on BBC Radio 1 in 1997, written and directed by Dirk Maggs and with Jenny Agutter, Brian Glover, and John Woodvine reprising the roles of Alex Price, the chess player (now named George Hackett, and with a more significant role as East Proctor’s special constable) and Dr. Hirsch. The roles of David and Jack were played by Eric Meyers and William Dufris.  Maggs’ script added a backstory that some people in East Proctor are settlers from Eastern Europe and brought lycanthropy with them. The werewolf who bites David is revealed to be related to Hackett, and has escaped from an asylum where he is held under the name “Larry Talbot”, the name of the title character in The Wolf Man.

    Movie Poster 27x40

    Movie Poster 27x40


    Make Up Department
      Elaine Baker … makeup effects crew
      Rick Baker … special makeup effects
      Doug Beswick … makeup effects crew
      Kevin Brennan … makeup effects crew
      Robin Grantham … makeup artist
      Tom Hester … makeup effects crew
      Steve Johnson … makeup effects assistant
      Beryl Lerman … makeup artist
      Shawn McEnroe … makeup effects crew
      Joseph Ross … makeup effects crew
      Bill Sturgeon … makeup effects crew
      Craig Reardon … makeup effects crew (uncredited)


    Special Effects Department
      Neil Corbould … special effects assistant
      Martin Gutteridge … special effects
      Garth Inns … special effects

     These are two of the most amazing transformation scenes on film!  The two titans of practical makeup special effects at the time Rick Baker and Rob Bottin created these amazing effects.


    As far as the films I thought both were great but I enjoyed the humor more in An American Werewolf in London — along with the two stars David Naughton and Griffin Dunne…two of my all time favorites! 

    An American Werewolf in London was released August 21, 1981


    Tagline: John Landis - the director of Animal House brings you a different kind of animal.

    Tagline: John Landis - the director of Animal House brings you a different kind of animal.


    Two American students are on a walking tour of England and are attacked by a Werewolf. One is killed, the other is mauled. The Werewolf is killed, but reverts to it’s human form, and the townspeople are able to deny it’s existence. The surviving student begins to have nightmares of hunting on 4 feet at first, but then finds that his friend and other recent victims appear to him, demanding that he find a way to die to release them from their curse, being trapped between worlds because of their unnatural death. Written by John Vogel {jlvogel@comcast.net}

    Makeup Department
    Elaine Baker …. makeup effects crew
    Rick Baker …. special makeup effects
    Doug Beswick …. makeup effects crew
    Kevin Brennan …. makeup effects crew
    Robin Grantham …. makeup artist
    Tom Hester …. makeup effects crew
    Steve Johnson …. makeup effects assistant
    Beryl Lerman …. makeup artist
    Shawn McEnroe …. makeup effects crew
    Joseph Ross …. makeup effects crew
    Bill Sturgeon …. makeup effects crew
    Craig Reardon …. makeup effects crew (uncredited)
    Special Effects by
    Neil Corbould …. special effects assistant
    Martin Gutteridge …. special effects
    Garth Inns …. special effects

    The Howling was released on April 10 , 1981

    Plot: There is a serial killer on the loose, Karen White is the only reporter he communicates with. After a near fatal encounter with him at an adult video store, she is ordered to take a vacation. Eddie was killed by Police, but Karen doesn’t want to let it go and discovers that he came from a tiny community in the woods and that’s where she decides to vacation with husband Bill. Big mistake, because Eddie was an outcast of a pack of Werewolves who is trying to keep a low profile and doesn’t want any interviews. Can Karen and Bill escape the village of the wolf? Written by Chris

    learn make upeffects

    Tagline:  Imagine your worst fear a reality

    Tagline: Imagine your worst fear a reality


    Makeup Department
    Rick Baker …. special makeup effects consultant
    Joe Beserra …. makeup effects studio artist
    Rob Bottin …. special makeup effects creator
    Greg Cannom …. special makeup effects artist
    Bill Davis …. assistant makeup artist
    Tina Kline …. contact lens technician (as Tina Klein)
    Shawn McEnroe …. first makeup effects assistant
    Medusah …. assistant hair stylist (as Anne Aulenta-Spira)
    Medusah …. assistant makeup artist (as Anne Aulenta-Spira)
    Art Pimentel …. second makeup effects assistant
    Margaret Prentice …. makeup effects studio artist (as Margaret Beserra)
    Josephine Turner …. special hair work
    Josephine Turner …. wig maker
    Gigi Williams …. hair stylist
    Gigi Williams …. makeup artist
    Steve LaPorte …. special makeup effects artist (uncredited)
    Bill Sturgeon …. creature effects crew (uncredited) 
    Special Effects by
    Doug Beswick …. special mechanical effects
    Kevin Brennan …. special effects makeup
    Roger George …. special effects
    Morton Greenspoon …. creative contact lens effects (as Morton K. Greenspoon)
    Jeff Shank …. effects unit line producer
    Steve Shank …. effects unit line producer   
    Visual Effects by
    Dave Allen …. stop motion animation (as David Allen)
    Peter Kuran …. love scene and main title animation: Visual Concept Engineering
    Mike Warren …. optical effects
    Pam Vick …. cel animator (uncredited)

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