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An American Werewolf in London poster.jpg

An American Werewolf in London is a 1981 horror comedy film written and directed by John Landis. An international co-production of the United Kingdom and the United States, the film stars David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Griffin Dunne and John Woodvine. The film's plot follows two American backpackers, David and Jack, who are attacked by a werewolf while traveling in England, causing David to question whether he will become a werewolf under the next full moon.

Landis wrote the first draft of the screenplay for the film in 1969 and shelved it for over a decade. Prospective financiers believed that Landis' script was too frightening to be a comedy film and too humorous to be a horror film. After achieving success in Hollywood with the comedies The Kentucky Fried Movie, National Lampoon's Animal House and The Blues Brothers, Landis was able to secure financing from PolyGram Pictures to produce An American Werewolf in London.

An American Werewolf in London was released in the US by Universal Pictures on August 21, 1981. It was a critical and commercial success, winning the 1981 Saturn Award for Best Horror Film and the first ever Academy Award for Best Makeup. Since its release, it has become a cult classic. A sequel, An American Werewolf in Paris, was released by Hollywood Pictures in 1997.


Two American backpackers from New York City, David Kessler and Jack Goodman, are trekking across the moors in Yorkshire. As night falls, they stop at a local pub called the Slaughtered Lamb. Jack notices a five-pointed star on the wall, but when he asks about it, the pub-goers become hostile. The pair decide to leave, and the pub-goers warn them to keep to the road, stay clear of the moors and beware of the full moon. David and Jack end up wandering off the road onto the moors, and are attacked by a vicious creature. Jack is mauled to death and David is injured. The beast is shot and killed by some of the pub-goers, who came out searching for the boys. Instead of a dead animal, David sees the corpse of a naked man lying next to him before passing out.

David wakes up three weeks later in a hospital in London. He is interviewed by police Inspector Villiers who tells him that he and Jack were attacked by an escaped lunatic, but David insists they were attacked by some sort of rabid dog or wolf. An undead Jack appears to David and explains the beast that attacked them was a werewolf, and reveals that David is now one. Jack urges David to kill himself before the next full moon, not only because Jack is cursed to linger undead for as long as the bloodline of the werewolf that attacked them survives, but also to prevent David from inflicting the same fate on anyone else.

Dr. Hirsch takes a road trip to the Slaughtered Lamb to see if what David has told him is true. When asked about the incident, the pub-goers deny any knowledge of David, Jack, or the attack. However, one distraught pub-goer speaks to Dr. Hirsch outside the pub and says David should not have been taken away, and that everyone else will be in danger when he transforms.

Upon his release from hospital David moves in with Alex Price, a young nurse who grew infatuated with him in the hospital. He stays in Alex's London flat, where they later have sex. Jack, in a more advanced stage of decay, appears to David to warn him that he will become a werewolf the next night. Jack again advises David to take his own life to avoid killing innocent people, but David refuses to believe him. When the full moon rises, David painfully transforms from his human form into a werewolf. David, now in werewolf form, prowls the streets and the London Underground, killing and slaughtering six people in the process. He wakes up the next morning naked on the floor of a wolf enclosure at the London Zoo, with no recollection of what happened, and manages to make his way back to Alex's apartment.

After realizing that he became a werewolf and was responsible for the previous night's murders, David unsuccessfully attempts to get himself arrested in Trafalgar Square. He goes to Piccadilly Circus, calling his family from a phone booth to say he loves them, then loses courage when he attempts and fails to slit his own wrists with a pocket knife. David then suddenly sees Jack, in a yet more advanced stage of decay, outside of an adult movie theater. Inside, Jack is accompanied by David's victims from the previous night, most of whom are furious with David and suggest different methods for him to commit suicide.

David transforms again into a werewolf inside the movie theater. He decapitates Inspector Villiers, and wreaks havoc in the streets, causing the deaths of many drivers and bystanders. He is ultimately trapped and surrounded in an alleyway by the police. Alex runs down the alley in an attempt to calm David by telling him that she loves him. Although David's consciousness appears to recognize her for a brief moment, he lunges forward and is shot by police. Alex cries while staring at David, reverted to human form, lying dead and naked on the ground.