American Werewolf in London

American Werewolf in London

Mar 27, 2021

This week I watched the movie “American Werewolf in London”. It had been many years since I had seen this classic horror movie. Watching brought back some memories. I remember the surge in werewolf movies in the 1980’s that helped popularize this classic.

Among the classics if this time were movies like The Howling (1-8), Wolfen, Silver Bullet, American Werewolf in London, and even Teen Wolf (not scary). I loved all of them. These movies changed how people change into werewolves for the first time since the werewolf movies fo the 1940’s and 50’s.

In American Werewolf in London, the transformation from man to werewolf was amazingly shocking and scary for its time. This was my very first “modern werewolf transformation aka MWT” (I think I just made up a new phrase). This movie came out the same year as the Howling, another MWT and very scary, but I saw American Werewolf in London first, so it had the larger scary impact on me.

At the opening of this movie was done in a great way, two unsuspecting young men backpacking in Europe wander into an old countryside village where they are attacked by a werewolf. One of the backpackers is killed and the other wakes up in the hospital.

From this point the story drives forward with great foreshadowing. There is also a love story woven in to help raise the stakes and emphasize the potential heartbreak and loss to come.

One part of the movie that I absolutely love is the false wake-up from a dream. Truly a nightmare within a nightmare. I just Googled it and found a term called “Jump Scare Scene”. This is defined by Wikipedia as.

“A jump scare is a technique often used in horror films, haunted attractions, video games, and Internet screamers, intended to scare the audience by surprising them with an abrupt change in image or event, usually co-occurring with a frightening sound”

I did not know this was an actual thing. Very cool. So, in this example in American Werewolf in London and a dream that the main character, David had.

David dreamed that he was enjoying a peaceful, quiet dinner with his family in their home. Everything is going great and then there is someone at the door. When the door is opened, there are “war dogs” or werewolves in Gestapo uniforms to kill everybody with machine guns, and then cut David’s throat. Then David wakes from his nightmare.

Everything is peaceful again for a moment as he begins to tell his nurse about the dream. In that moment, the war dogs return jumping out of his closet/wardrobe machine guns blazing. Then David wakes up again. That sequence scares the crap out of me back in 1981.