Two young Americans, David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne), are trudging across the moors of Northern England when they are attacked by a large, deadly creature. Jack is killed instantly and David survives, only to be informed (by Jack, who is now cursed to wander the Earth as a member of the undead) that he will sprout fur and fangs at the time of the next full moon, hence the title. Despite this worry, David still manages to impress the beautiful nurse looking after him (Jenny Agutter) and gets his wicked way with our very own English Rose in a scene that fuelled many the fantasy of a young lad in the mid-80s. But will his happiness last? Is he going mad? Or will he, indeed, start howling at the next full moon?
If you haven’t seen this perfectly crafted horror-comedy (though director John Landis prefers to call it a horror movie that lets you laugh) then stop reading this review and do so immediately. Now! It is a favourite for many, many people (certainly one of mine) and remains one of the best blending of those two genres ever made. I also think that this movie, alongside Scanners, helped to expand the newly introduced home entertainment market (thanks to the major rewind moments – Scanners had that exploding head scene and this movie has not only a naked Jenny Agutter but also THE finest werewolf transformation ever committed to film, for which I am eternally in awe of the magnificent Rick Baker . . . and we shouldn’t forget his sterling work in making Jack a very real, very decomposing member of the undead). Just watch it. Seriously. Now.
For those of you who have seen it or have just watched it for the first time, how many highlights can you think of right now? It’s a long and impressive list and, in a random stream of consciousness, I would have to plump for the following: the soundtrack filled with songs that have “moon” in the title, the adult movie titled “See You Next Wednesday” (a Landis trademark in-joke for some time), a young Rik Mayall on screen for seconds, “The Slaughtered Lamb”, the amusing comic-relief from the staid policemen, Frank Oz in both muppet and non-muppet form, David Naughton checking his teeth in the mirror and THAT transformation sequence. Throw in an amazing finale set in Piccadilly Circus, genuinely good acting from all three of the main leads, a witty script full of love for the lycanthrope myths and great direction PLUS a hell of a lot more and you have the greatest werewolf movie ever made, for my money anyway.
WRITER/DIRECTOR: JOHN LANDIS
STARS: DAVID NAUGHTON, GRIFFIN DUNNE, JENNIFER AGUTTER, BRIAN GLOVER, DAVID SCHOFIELD, JOHN WOODVINE, FRANK OZ, DON MCKILLOP, PAUL KEMBER
RUNTIME: 97 MINS APPROX