I think that An American Werewolf in London is too funny to be just a horror movie, even though Dave’s story is too sinister to be in a comedy.
Firstly, let’s think about the title. Most horror films have one or two word titles e.g. The Omen, The Ring etc. to help build up suspense, but this film, An American Werewolf in London, its title is almost a whole sentence. There’s a bit of mystery in it – why would an American werewolf be in London? – but it doesn’t really sound scary because the title is too long, unlike films like Scream, Tremors etc.
The opening sequence shows a montage of shots of the moors. The landscape is desolate and abandoned. It is cloudy, shadow and misty. Here you think this could be a horror, but coupled with the background music, a fifties/ sixties pop ballad called Blue Moon, it appears to be a film about the moors and not a monster that lives in them. Then the truck arrives and the driver unloads two American men from the back, where they had been sitting with the sheep. They walk off, talking about women, sex and they start joking – something that you wouldn’t expect to happen in a horror movie.
It takes a horror themed turn when they arrive at a pub called the Slaughtered Lamb. But again, Jack makes a joke here – Where is the Lamb? – he says. So they enter the pub, and everyone in there, knowing that it is the night of the werewolf, everyone became hostile to the visitors. They all felt safe in here because they know that the werewolf is none of them, but these two strangers, one of them could be the werewolf, so they told them to leave. But before they left, there were yet more jokes.
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Dave’s nightmares are also too comical. The way he was running naked through a forest and then just suddenly starts eating a deer alive was too funny, and not at all scary. The thought of someone doing that is very disturbing, but the way it occurred on screen made me laugh, not cringe. And then there is the dream where he is at home with his family. The idea of aliens coming to your door and destroying your house it a little scary, but it felt much more like a gangster movie than a horror movie, as if these monsters were mobsters from a film like Goodfellas. And then he thinks he’s awake because the nurse is there, but then one of these monsters appears and kills her. And then he wakes up again. But this time, we don’t think he is awake because Jack appears with huge chunks of his face missing.
The random appearances of Jack, and later on the appearances of all the people Dave kills, are just too funny to be in a horror movie. Originally, Jack is missing a huge piece of his face and neck. Then, as time goes by, he turns green as if he is rotting. In his final appearance, his teeth and eyes appear very large because there is barely any flesh left on his face. At this stage, he just looks really comical, but Dave is scared of him. I know that it is supposed to be the concept of seeing a dead man that is supposed to the scary part, but when looks as silly as that, it’s just not frightening. I found the part of the film where the other dead people start telling Dave all the different ways he could kill himself hilariously funny, but I again don’t think I was supposed to because there’s 6 dead people wandering around.
Also, with the scene where Dave is running around naked in a zoo, the scene where he is shouting and swearing at the police office, the Scotland Yard detectives – these parts were also too humorous. In my mind, this film can not be a horror movie because it is too comical.
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