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 prevails over jump scares or unnecessary gore – that isn’t to say that the movie is not scary or gory, but that director John Landis judiciously deploys those devices, 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.” It’s the best kind of slow-burn horror narrative, slowly ratcheting up the tension until the climax explodes into utter pandemonium.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

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