[[quoteright:294:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/AnAmericanWerewolfInLondon.JPG]]
[[caption-width-right:294:Beware the moon, David.]]

'''''An American Werewolf in London''''' is a [[TheEighties 1981]] Creator/{{Universal}} comedy/horror film written and directed by Creator/JohnLandis. (It was advertised with the {{Tagline}}, "From the director of ''Film/AnimalHouse'', a different sort of animal.") Starring David Naughton, Griffin Dunne, Creator/JennyAgutter, and John Woodvine, the film featured special effects by master make-up artist Rick Baker. (Creator/FrankOz also made a cameo appearance, [[MuppetCameo as did]] [[Series/TheMuppetShow Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy]] -- not to mention Landis himself.) It was shot on location in the UK, with UsefulNotes/{{Wales}} standing in for the Yorkshire moors, and "The Black Swan" pub in UsefulNotes/{{London}} for "The Slaughtered Lamb." The background music consisted of a number of cannily deployed popular songs (all of which have "moon" in the title), bolstered with some eleven minutes of moodily atmospheric music by Music/ElmerBernstein.


''[=AWiL=]'' was not particularly successful in its initial run. Critics were reportedly confused about whether to regard it as a comedy film with horror elements or a horror film with comedy relief, though Landis himself regards it as entirely in the vein of the old Universal [[UniversalHorror monster films]] of the Forties. (There are also striking similarities between the Landis film and a 1941 British film, ''The Night Has Eyes,'' starring James Mason.) Since the Eighties, the film has [[VindicatedByHistory come back from the dead]] (so to speak) as a CultClassic. Naughton and Dunne handled their "buddy-body" banter excellently (the film really might have been entitled ''[[Film/RoadTo Road to Lycanthropy]]''); Jenny Agutter as [[HospitalHottie sexy nurse]] Alex Price is supremely enticing; and the acting throughout is generally well-handled -- the characters come across as both interesting and sympathetic. It is true, however, that Landis does not seem quite to know what to do with such engaging characters; the initial parts of the film are both thrilling and funny, but about two-thirds of the way through, the plot seems to lose direction, and merely piles gory scene on gory scene in massive confusion until the film abruptly -- stops.

''[=AWiL=]'' has infuriated some Britons, particularly [[OopNorth Northerners]], with its somewhat cartoonish and stereotypical depictions of life in the UK; it is possible that this was a deliberate echoing on Landis's part of the sketchily researched versions of Britain found in the Universal horror cycles of the Thirties and Forties.

In 1997 a sequel, ''Film/AnAmericanWerewolfInParis'', appeared; despite an engaging pair of leads (Tom Everett Scott and Julie Delpy), this was so fundamentally ill-conceived and executed (Landis was barely involved at all) that it was not very well received.

Based largely on this film, Music/MichaelJackson engaged Landis to direct his 1982 "Music/{{Thriller}}" music video, and hired Rick Baker to do the make-up effects for it.

There is now a [[http://www.slaughteredlambpub.com/ Slaughtered Lamb Pub]] in the Greenwich Village section of UsefulNotes/NewYorkCity. Also, in a triumph for Ride/UniversalStudios, the 2013 ''Theatre/HalloweenHorrorNights'' event at the Orlando park successfully got permission to make a haunted house based on the film. It includes virtually every horror-related scene of the film, from the attack on the moors and the demonic Nazi dream to the famous transformation and the wolf's rampage out of the porn theater into Picadilly Circus.

A remake of the film is rumored to be in the works.

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!!''An American Werewolf in London'' provides examples of the following tropes:

* AllJustADream: The nightmare sequence is actually a parody of this, in that [[spoiler: David has a horrific dream, then wakes up and believes everything is fine... [[DreamWithinADream until a creature comes from the curtains and stabs the nurse!]] Then he wakes up again, exclaiming "Holy Shit!"]].
* AlternateIdentityAmnesia: David doesn't remember what he does in wolf form.
* AmbiguouslyJewish: It's never confirmed that the two guys are Jewish, but they have Ashkenazi-sounding names and use a bit of Yiddish, and they're both from New York. A nurse suspects that David is Jewish after checking out his package, but Alex says that circumcision is no longer strictly a Jewish thing. In the dream sequence where the werewolf-Nazis kill David's family, a menorah is visible on one of the shelves in the background.
* AmericanTitle: In London.
* BiggerBad: According to a deleted scene in [[Film/AnAmericanWerewolfInParis the sequel]], the BigBad claims that the werewolf society in the sequel existed for centuries and the werewolf that bit David was a former member.
* BodyHorror: Not only David's, but also Jack's gradual transformation.
* BritainIsOnlyLondon: The film starts out in the North, but David quickly winds up in London after his injury, even though it's hundreds of miles away.
* BritishStuffiness: Averted. David tries to get himself arrested in Trafalgar Square by shouting curse words, but the local British aren't particularly insulted and assume he's got some other motive.
* UsefulNotes/BritishTouristAttractions: Piccadilly Circus, the Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square, the Zoo.
* CatchPhrase: Each of Landis's films works in the phrase, "See You Next Wednesday" somewhere. In ''[=AWiL=]'', it serves as the title of the porn film David and Jack and "friends" watch.
* CatScare: Out on the moors, David and Jack are being stalked by the werewolf. They run away, but suddenly David falls...revealing nothing knocked him over. He'd just tripped. But when Jack moves to help him up, the werewolf attacks.
* CelebrityParadox: Frank Oz appears as an American consulate. Soon afterwards, David has a dream featuring Miss Piggy, who was puppeteered by Frank Oz.
* CityOfWeirdos: David tries to get himself locked up so he won't kill more people at moonrise, but is merely told to move along when he starts shouting insults about the royals and Britain's cultural icons in public. This, after his running around the park naked is greeted with a mere sniff of disdain by an older lady.
* CreatorCameo: John Landis is the bearded man who gets hit by a car and thrown through the plate glass window in Piccadilly Circus.
* CreditsGag: The credits feature an OurLawyersAdvisedThisTrope gag.
* CreepyChild: The two children who laugh at David outside Alex's flat are actually credited as "Creepy Little Girl."
* TheDeadHaveEyes: Apparently, eyes don't rot.
* DeadPersonConversation: Not so "boring" after all, it would seem.
* DeathByCameo: John Landis appears as a pedestrian who is hurled through a plate-glass window by a crashing car.
* DevelopingDoomedCharacters: One of the film's great successes is actually making David and Jack likable before the werewolf appears.
* DownerEnding: [[spoiler:David's love interest confesses her love to him while he's in wolf form. She actually seems to get to him a little, but he still dies in the end.]] [[spoiler: That being said it's more of a BittersweetEnding, albeit ''very'' bitter, but if David wasn't killed he would have murdered more people doomed to be among the undead.]]
* DreamWithinADream: David awakens from a nightmare only to find himself in another nightmare.
* EvilDetectingDog: The animals can tell that David is a werewolf, and all go insane at him. Well, except the wolves.
* EvilFeelsGood: David awakens from his first transformation feeling fantastic and re-energized.
* {{Filth}}: David enters a porn theater showing a hilariously bad flick called ''[[CreatorInJoke See You Next Wednesday]]''
* TheFlorenceNightingaleEffect: How Nurse Price falls in love with David. She finds him handsome and "sad." Another nurse admits to checking out his penis, which hints that his [[AllGirlsWantBadBoys being a werewolf]] may be inspiring these feelings as well.
* {{Ghostapo}}: Because he is a nice Jewish boy, David's nightmares naturally involve hideous monsters -- wearing SS uniforms.
* GoryDiscretionShot: Most deaths are only shown briefly.
* HandOrObjectUnderwear: David goes through a few of these after waking up naked in a wolf cage at the zoo.
-->"A naked American man stole my balloons."
* HelloNurse \ HospitalHottie: As Griffin Dunne remarks in the DVD commentary '' propos'' Alex's treatment of David: "I want to stay in ''that'' hospital!"
* HopeSpot: The three seconds where it ''looks'' like [[spoiler: Alex is about to save the day with ThePowerOfLove, or at least be the one to mercy kill him, as he hinted at earlier in the film. Instead, he lunges at her and gets gunned down by the police.]]
* KnockKnockJoke: David tries to tell an inverted one to Jack on the moors, but Jack doesn't get it.
* IdiotBall: The two guys really don't have any reason to leave the road. They're travelling in the dark, in a strange area with no real idea of where they're going. Why would they just wander into the moors at night, after being warned ''several'' times by the locals that it's dangerous? In fact, they quickly find themselves lost - [[FromBadToWorse and it just gets worse from there.]]
* LeaningOnTheFourthWall: During his painful transformation David looks pleadingly into the camera and reaches out as if begging the audience to help him.
* LightmareFuel: This film is seemingly made of this trope in some parts. Griffin Dunne and David Naughton are laughing it up, joking about the superstitious villagers as they walk along the moonlit road one second, telling some authentically funny jokes that ''will'' get the audience chuckling along... and in the next second Dunne's throat is ripped out on-camera and Naughton is slowly bleeding out from a werewolf bite.
* UsefulNotes/TheLondonUnderground: Where Gerald Bringsley has an unfortunate encounter.
* MatzoFever: David is quite the chick magnet, even when unconscious.
* MirrorScare: Jack appears behind David when he adjusts a mirror.
* NakedPeopleAreFunny: Though poor David Naughton wasn't laughing, after Dr. Pepper sacked him as its spokesman for appearing nude on film.
* NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast: "The Slaughtered Lamb," with a grisly picture of a severed wolf's head on the sign. Old British pubs do tend to have rather blunt names, though.
* NeverTrustATrailer: Apparently many people ran from the theater once the movie marketed as "From the director of ''Film/AnimalHouse''" turned out to be really scary.
* NiceJewishBoy: David definitely qualifies as this.
* NightmareSequence: Several, getting worse and worse and worse...
* NothingIsScarier: David and Jack hear the first werewolf howling, snarling, and circling them prior to its attack, but can't make out what's stalking them in the darkness.
* OopNorth: Wheer tha maught find East Proctor.
* OurGhostsAreDifferent: No one killed by a werewolf can pass on to the afterlife until its bloodline is cut off, leaving David haunted by TheUndead forms of the people he himself has killed, and at least one of the people killed by the werewolf that bit him.
* OurLawyersAdvisedThisTrope: "{{This is a work of fiction}} -- any resemblance to actual persons living, dead, or undead, is purely coincidental." The same disclaimer later appeared in the closing credits for the "Music/{{Thriller}}" video.
* OurWerewolvesAreDifferent: The werewolf in this film is a definitely quadrupedal, over-sized animal, looking rather like a Huskie that has swallowed a large barrel, with limbs set more like a crocodile's than a wolf's; moreover, it has a howl like a train-whistle.
* OrWasItADream: David awakens from a nightmare only to find himself in a DreamWithinADream.
* PainfulTransformation: As in, bone-cracking. One of the best, most definitive examples of all time.
* RealSongThemeTune: "Bluuuue Mooooooon..."
* RememberTheAlamo: "''I'' remember ''Film/TheAlamo''. I saw it once in London -- in Leicester Square."
* ResistTheBeast: David tries but, alas, fails.
* SciFiWritersHaveNoSenseOfScale: After being attacked, the main characters are taken from the Yorkshire Moors, in the North of England, where there are any number of good hospitals, to London, which is in the South. The contrast between the Moors and a northern city wouldn't have been as severe as with metropolitan London. This may have had something to do with the locals wanting the imminent carnivorous lunar activities as far away from them as possible - the doctor mentions that David's wounds were cleaned and dressed before he arrived.
* SexIsViolence: Both Alex and David are shown biting each other repeatedly as foreplay.
* ShoutOut:
** As Jack says of the pentangle at ''The Slaughtered Lamb'': "Universal Studios and Lon Chaney, Jr., maintained that's the mark of ''[[Film/TheWolfMan1941 The Wolf Man]]!''"
** The pair tosses fictional references back and forth when they hear the howls:
---> '''David:''' [[Literature/SherlockHolmes The Hound of the Baskervilles]]?
---> '''Jack:''' [[Disney/MelodyTime Pecos Bill]]?
---> '''David:''' [[Literature/WutheringHeights Heathcliff]].
---> '''Jack:''' Heathcliff didn't howl.
---> '''David:''' No, but he was on the moors.
** ''Film/TheCurseOfTheWerewolf'' with Oliver Reed is also mentioned.
* ShowerOfLove: David and Alex, and don't we envy both of them.
* SilverBullet: Averted, and mocked. When David is advised by his victims to kill himself, he asks, "Don't I need a silver bullet?", whereupon Jack tartly replies, "Oh, be serious!"
* SinisterSubway: UsefulNotes/TheLondonUnderground is suddenly quite empty when a werewolf comes prowling.
* SlidingScaleOfComedyAndHorror: Roughly around the middle somewhere. John Landis said it's not a comedy, but in context he seemed to have been committing an equivocation fallacy between "comedy" as opposed to "drama" and "comedy" as opposed to "tragedy".
* SoundtrackDissonance: To the extreme, particularly in the ending.
* StayOnThePath: "Beware the moon... and stick to the road... oops."
* StylisticSuck: The porn film ''See You Next Wednesday'' that David and Jack watch features some delightfuly absurd scenes that go nowhere. In one scene, an angry man bursts in on the copulating couple to accuse his lover of cheating on him. Both the man and the woman have no idea who he is, so he apologizes and leaves. Later, the naked woman answers a phone call, but it's a wrong number, so she hangs up. David comments, "''Nice'' movie!" leaving it unclear whether he's being sarcastic or if the film is intentionally some sort of Dada porno.
* TakeThat: One line, "Sean, I think there are some hooligans in the park again," (spoken as a werewolf is ripping some people apart) is a parody of a remark reportedly made by MargaretThatcher.
* ThisWasHisTrueForm: The monstrous werewolf that attacks David is revealed to be a small, bald old man in his true form.
* ToServeMan: The werewolf cuisine of choice, though venison is apparently David's dream-food.
* TownWithADarkSecret: East Proctor.
* TransformationSequence: One of the most famous werewolf ones, courtesy of Rick Baker -- and this is ''without'' CG.
* TheUndead: Those killed by a werewolf haunt him in the form of rotting, but sentient corpses. It is left somewhat uncertain whether they are actual material beings or not.
* UrineTrouble: "Those sheep shit on my pack."
* WrongGenreSavvy: No, Alex, [[spoiler:ThePowerOfLove will not redeem David the way that it did in other movies]].
* YouHaveToBelieveMe: First, Jack tries to get David to believe him: "Goddammit, David, please believe me! You'll kill and make others like me! I'm not having a nice time here." Later David tries the same with Alex and others.
* [[YourVampiresSuck Your Werewolves Suck]]: Jack rolls his eyes and quips "Oh, be serious!" when David asks about needing silver bullets.
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