When I was very young I had a copy of Michael Jackson’s Thriller on VHS, and I  used to watch it, or more specifically the making of documentary after the music video. The director of Thriller, John Landis, had made another werewolf movie, and there was a minute long snippet included in the documentary.  The clip showed a savage dog, with horrific bloody fangs, rampaging through the bustling night time streets of London’s Piccadilly Circus, snapping at passers by, causing the traffic to collide with each other, with shop fronts, with pedestrians. It was carnage, hysteria, horror as I had never seen before. I had to see that movie.Flash forward 3 or 4 years, I’m probably about 8 or 9. BBC1 is scheduled to play An American Werewolf In London. My mum, aware that I had set the video the video to record this black-comedy-horror, decided that she would stay up and watch it to ensure that it was suitable for a minor. Of course it wasn’t, and so she promptly decided that she would hide the tape in the top of a cupboard, a hiding place she was unaware that I knew of.I smuggled the tape out one day, and round to a friends, we watched it, shit ourselves and slept with the lights on for about a fortnight. No movie, before or since, had filled me with such terror. Not the Wes Craven Kruger films, or the banned William Freidkin movie the Excorcist.Up until the American Werewolf, director John Landis had only really established himself as a comedy director, with Animal House and The Blues Brothers under his belt. In American Werewolf, he proved that he can make a good horror too, a damn fine horror, with the laughs in no way detracting from the terror.The opening scenes of American Werewolf in London where Griffin Dunne is slaughtered on the moores, is powerful viewing. Perhaps its because the scene is completely dark, the werewolf barely seen, the power of suggestion once again proven to be a remarkable cinematic tool. That and the terrifying howl of the unseen beast.David Naughton plays David Kesslar, an American backpacker making his way through Europe, and survivor of an attack by what he  believes to be a  vicious dog in the Mooreland surrounding the creepy village of Procter. The scenes with the bizarre and cagey locals at the Slaughtered Lamb are as memorable for their peculiar awkwardness as the magnificent horror scenes. Amongst the locals is the veteran British actor, Brian Glover, and young funny man Rik Mayall.Whilst recovering in hospital David begins to have hideous and violent dreams, of himself as a beast, as well as nightmarish storm troopers invading his home, with particular good use of the dream within a dream. Also he recieves visits from his dead friend Jack (Griffin Dunne) who killed by the beast remains one of the living dead until the curse of the werewolf is stopped, David being the next in line to partake in carnivorous lunar activities.When David finally transforms, his metamorphosis is awesome and agonising, physically contorting this human being into a beast in front of our eyes. The pain and agony was deflty lost when its abysmal and unnecessary sequel emerged many years later at the dawning of the CGI age. There is something missing from the digital mutation that make up artist Rick Baker captured excellently, even winning the first ever Academy Award for Best Make Up. He wnet on to use the same techniques in not just Thriller, but also Teen Wolf and The Howling.As David goes on a killing spree through London Town, so the number of undead haunting him begins to rise. The scene in which he is confronted by them all in the cinema, openly discussing his suicide whilst his friend Jack, now barely a skeleton, adjudicates is one of my favourite comedy moments in film.The largest fault with this movie lies with the love story between David and Nurse Price (Jennifer Agutter) which seems unnatural and too convenient, but at least Jenny Agutter gets her nips out, something we didn’t see in the railway children.Things typical of Landis movies can be found here. Firstly the phrase ‘See You Next Wednesday,’ in Werewolf, the title of a porno film playing in the theatre, but also advertised in the tube. Secondly his friend, the mupeteer Frank Oz gets his cameo, this time as the US Ambassador who visits David in the hospital. And also look out for a shot where hundreds of guns point at the camera, here at the stand off in the movies finale.The musical score by Elmer Bernstein is chilling and complimentary to the visuals, but the soundtrack of songs used in the movie make it, each it and everyone of them containing the word moon in their title, hardly a genius stroke, but one of comedy from a comedy director. The Final Blue Moon at the end credits was hardly the song we expected to hear after Agutters cry of anguish.A classic black comedy horror, with perhaps only wooden acting, the unbelievable love story and a few lame scenes working against it, but it’s a film that will always stand out, in my mind at least, as a benchmark of our times.Well, that just about wraps it up for another review. Feel free to leave a comment below, and please like and subscribe.