That Scene From ‘An American Werewolf in London’ (1981)

“Hey, have you seen this movie? What did you think about THAT SCENE?!” We have all used that phrase at one point during our discussions of movies with the other person’s eyebrows raising, “Oh yea, THAT SCENE!” You go on to pick that memorable scene apart by listing what you loved or didn’t like, how it made you feel and the impression it left on you. 

In this series, we will do just that. We will take a scene from a movie and discuss its impact on us. Some of these scenes may be frightening, weird, iconic, controversial, hilarious, and everything in between. Let us know your impression of the scene and the impact it left on you the first time you watched it down below in the comments. Enjoy!

 *Warning: May Contain Spoilers*


Movie: An American Werewolf in London (1981)

Scene: The Transformation

THE PLAYERS

Director: John Landis

Special Effects Artist: Rick freakin Baker

Characters: (David) David Naughton

THE SETUP

Two American backpackers (David and Jack) are traveling through the moors in Yorkshire. When night falls, they decide to stop in a local pub called the Slaughtered Lamb. After the locals turn hostile, the two decide to continue on their way but are given a warning. “Stay on the road. Keep clear of the moors. Beware the moon, lads.” Okay, weird folk.

David and Jack end up wandering off the road and onto the moors when they heard some howling in the distance. As they realize they are lost, both are attacked by a mysterious creature. Jack was mauled to death while David barely survived the attack. David is nursed back to health but received visions of dead Jack telling him he was a werewolf now and he should kill himself before he hurts innocent people. David, not believing any of this, tries to move on with his life till we get to this scene.

THAT SCENE

THE EXECUTION

I always loved horror from an early age but I was never really concerned with the special effects. I mean I always knew it was some guy behind some makeup and I thought it was neat how they made the blood squirt and what not. However, this scene made me sit up and take notice. I inched closer and closer to the TV asking “how did they do that?” I was mesmerized by this transformation. I had seen them done but mainly it was cutaways with the actor looking different each time. I need to know how they were able to do this. This was the first time I felt reality and fantasy melt together in front of my young eyes.

Rick Baker was the special effects artist for this masterful scene. He would win the first-ever makeup artistry Oscar for his work in this film. Landis and Baker’s vision for this scene was a visceral and agonizing transformation like we had never seen before. Baker would employ animatronics that would resemble the actor and have to intertwine the biological makeup of a human and a wolf’s body to show how the vertebras, joints, and skin would be able to handle the transformation. Here is a more detailed breakdown of what all was involved for Baker and Landis to pull off this special effects masterpiece.


What do you think of the transformation scene? Is it the best werewolf transformation of all time? If not, what is?

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Author: Vincent Kane

I hate things.