Classic Scene: Werewolf Transformation
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Dir. John Landis
The Scene: David sits and tries to take his mind off of everything by reading a book. But the moon looms overhead and he lets out a cry as the young man falls to the ground and beings to violently and painfully transform into the werewolf which has been stalking the streets of London.
The Deconstruction: I have never made any secret that my favorite werewolf movie of all time is, An American Werewolf in London. Director John Landis beautifully marries scares with the right dose of laughs in this 80’s horror flick. Of course the centerpiece of the movie that has wowed audiences ever since it was made, was the troubled David suffering as he turned into the beast he was cursed to be. The genius of make-up legend Rick Baker combined with the anguished performance of David Naughton, terrified audiences as they watched the wolf feature violently tear away David’s humanity. True movies and TV shows nowadays have no problem utilizing CGI for werewolf transformations; but that method destroys the raw power which practical effects bring to these scenes. An American Werewolf in London earned, Rick Baker the first ever Academy Award for Best Make-up, and this scene alone proves that was a well-deserved prize.
Best Bit: A fan-favorite element of An American Werewolf in London is the soundtrack. John Landis put together a kick-ass arrangement of classic rock songs which somehow work beautifully with the rest of the film. This particularly horrific moment is scored with soul legend Sam Cooke crooning a sweet rendition of “Blue Moon”. The drastic contradiction in what you are seeing and what you are hearing makes this scene all the more fascinating.