Facts and Trivia About “An American Werewolf in London” (1981)

Director John Landis tackled the task of presenting a film based on traveling man who faces the fate of the werewolf. During a walking tour of England, a werewolf attacks two American students, where one dies and the beast mauls the other. The werewolf is killed, but as it returns to its human form, the residents are able to hide the existence of the beast”¦

However, the survivor of the attack (played by John Naughton) starts to have nightmares, including one where he is hunting on all fours. Other visions include a visit from his friend, as well as other victims. They beg him to find a way to die in order to release them from a curse that causes them to become trapped between worlds.

Courtesy of Rick Baker, the transformation effects of An American Werewolf in London are stunning, even for the 1980’s. One such encounter is that of Naughton’s friend (played by Griffin Dunne), who returns as a zombie-like ghost character, to warn his friend of his potential fate. With inserted pop and rock songs, the movie was also a smash in the videotape world. However, one of the best transformations is when Naughton becomes a werewolf, where the details are magnified. We see his limbs and torso growing longer. We see the rapidly growing hair on his body. We are mesmerized by the real-time transformation that the main characters experiences, especially with his twisted facial changes.

If you can’t get enough of this type of movie plot, An American Werewolf in Paris was released in 1998 (directed by Anthony Walker). This time around CGI werewolves were used, but most people will tell you that this version has yet to surpass the genius of the original. Facts and trivia regarding An American Werewolf in London include:

·    The director John Landis wanted to add three significant songs to the soundtrack for the movie, but kept hitting brick walls when he asked for permission. The first was “Moonshadow” by Cat Stevens. Stevens stopped letting people use his secular music for films right after he decided to convert to Islam. Landis also wanted Bob Dylan’s “Blue Moon” for his film, but Dylan had just entered a conversion to Christianity and would not permit his music for a film that had an R-rating. The last was Elvis Presley’s version of “Blue Moon,” which Landis could not use because ongoing lawsuits involving his estate led to a rejected request.

·    Landis was influenced by an incident that took place during his shoot of Kelly’s Heroes in 1970. While traveling along the countryside of Yugoslavia, he witnessed a gypsy funeral, where they buried the body in an incredibly deep grave, positioning the body with feet first. The body was also wrapped in garlic in an effort to keep it from rising from the grave.

·    American Werewolf in London caused the Academy Awards to recognize the achievements of makeup artists and industry technology. In 1981, it became the first time when film visuals could earn accolades. For his work on the film, Rick Baker earned the first ever Academy Award received by a special effects artist.