15 Fun Facts about AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON

An American Werewolf in London is another one of those moves that I enjoy watching every year around Halloween. It has everything that makes for a great classic horror movie. The movie was incredibly bloody, violent, and scary, but one of the things that I liked about it most was the humor. It made me laugh, and that was all thanks to the character Jack Goodman, who was a rotting corpse with an upbeat and cheerful attitude. He's actually one of my favorite characters ever in a horror movie. I came across a lot of fun behind the scenes information about the film, and maybe there's something here that you've never heard of before. So without further ado, here are 15 fun facts about An American Werewolf in London.

  • This is the first movie to win an Academy Award for Best Makeup. The category was created in 1981. It's also the only John Landis movie to win an academy award.
  • All of the songs that were used in the film have the word "moon" in their titles.
  • Landis was inspired to write the script for the movie after an experience he had while shooting Kelly's Heroes in the countryside of Yugoslavia. Apparently while he driving along a country road he encountered a gypsy funeral. The body was being buried in a massively deep grave, feet first, while wrapped in garlic, so that he would not rise from the dead.
  • It took Landis over 8 years to get this movie into production and he wanted Rick Baker to do the make-up effects and design work. Baker got tired of waiting and decided to use what he had been developing for the film on another movie, The Howling. Landis eventually called Baker and told him, "I have the money. Let's make American Werewolf!" Baker then told him that he was already making a werewolf movie. After Landis yelled at Baker over the phone, he decided to leave The Howling in the hands of his protégé Rob Bottin and only consulted on it. This way he could work on An American Werewolf in London. Reportedly, Rick Baker's initial decision is something that Landis has never forgiven him for.
  • Studio executives wanted Landis to cast Dan Aykroyd in the role of David and John Belushi as Jack. The director refused, but that sure would have been interesting! 
  • Baker and Landis had a lot of disagreements over what the final design of the werewolf should be. Baker wanted it to be a two-legged werewolf saying he thought of werewolves as being bipedal. Landis wanted a "four-legged hound from hell".
  • Actor Griffin Dunne said that one of his his biggest fears about the movie was that his mother, who was ill at the time, wouldn't be able to handle seeing him as a mutilated corpse.
  • At the close of the credits there is a congratulatory message for the wedding of 'Prince Charles' and Princess Diana. The reason it was included was because when David is trying to get arrested, he shouts, "Prince Charles is a f--got!" The film was shot months before preparations for the wedding in 1981.
  • The movie was filmed in sequence, with the opening scenes filmed first and the closing sequences filmed last.
  • When trying to call home, the telephone number that David Kessler gives the operator (516-472-3402) contains a Long Island, New York, area code. This is also a rare case in which an actual phone number is used in a movie.
  • Landis had to avoid filming any full-frontal nudity of David Naughton during the famous transformation scene and dream sequences after Naughton informed Landis that he was not circumcised. What's funny about this is that the character, David Kessler, was written as being Jewish.
  • Naughton said the transformation scene took 6 days to complete. He spent 10 hours a day getting the make-up applied, 5 hours on set, and 3 hours of makeup removal. Because the makeup took so long to apply and remove, there was only enough time for one setup a day. Baker estimated that only half an hour of footage was shot during the entire week. The last scene shot was the snout protrusion, but it did not include Naughton. They used an animatronic head. 
  • Baker was disappointed by the amount of time spent shooting the face changing shot for the main transformation scene after having spent months working on the mechanism. Landis only required one take that lasted about seven seconds. Baker felt he had wasted his time until he saw the film with an audience that applauded during that one seven second shot.
  • Landis has a brief cameo in the movie near the end. He is the bearded man who gets hit by a car and thrown through the plate glass window in Piccadilly Circus.
  • Landis advised Dunne that the key to his character of Jack Goodman was that he was always to be encouraging, optimistic, and cheerful as a member of the undead, no matter what his stage of ghastly corporal decay, deterioration, and decomposition. Dunne claimed to have found this requirement to be difficult as he was seeing what he would look like as a rotting and mutilated corpse.

Below I've included the trailer for the film along with some behind the scenes videos and deleted scenes:

Thanks to IMDb

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