An American Werewolf in London (1981)

This is old-fashioned horror filmmaking at its finest. There’s an emphasis on character, mood and atmosphere that prevail over jump scares or unnecessary gore – that isn’t to say that the movie is not scary nor gory, but that director John Landis deploys those devices judiciously, and as a result is able to extract strong reactions from the audience (after all, less is more). Leads David Naughton and Griffin Dunne are well-cast as best friends and have believable chemistry together, which goes a long way towards selling an imaginative albeit over-the-top plot. But really what makes this work so well are the creature effects, including an extraordinary transformation scene that rivals Joe Dante’s “The Howling.” This is slow-burn horror at its finest, slowly ratcheting up the tension until a climax best described as pandemonium.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

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