A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Characters show compassion and kindness to someone undergoing a personal crisis, which happens to be dealing with becoming a werewolf.
Positive Role Models
David is an American backpacker in the U.K. who is bitten by a werewolf and becomes one himself. He worries about the safety of others and tries to turn himself in when he suspects he killed people while he was a werewolf. Nurse Alex Price is a kind woman who invites David to stay with her. She is understanding, confident, comfortable, and open. Doctor Hirsch is caring but businesslike. He is open-minded and investigates the werewolf claims. Villagers who know about the werewolf danger let the backpackers wander off to danger. One villager tries to help with the investigation but is silenced.
London hospital staff and patients are of varied backgrounds. Punchline to a joke told in a pub features a Mexican person and the Alamo.
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Violence & Scariness
Intense bloody violence and horror. Werewolf attacks are frenzied and gory. Character is plagued by nightmares that feature zombies and a violent attack, with a family home being destroyed by monsters with machine guns. People are stabbed and one has their throat slit. Werewolf transformation scene is graphic and intense. People are run over with cars during a chaotic street scene. Suicide is mentioned, with characters listing ways someone can take their own life. They are shown trying to cut their wrist with a penknife.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters kiss in the shower and have sex on a bed. Breasts shown in this scene and in an adult movie projected in a movie theater. A character runs around naked in a zoo; their penis is visible in some shots, along with bare buttocks.
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Occasional language includes "s--t," "f--k," "bloody," "dumbass," "hell," "a--hole," and one use of "c--t." The homophobic slur "f--got" is used.
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Products & Purchases
The Beano comic and Mickey Mouse feature.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink alcohol in a pub.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that An American Werewolf in London is an Oscar-winning (for Best Makeup), intense and gory horror comedy that has been hugely influential since its 1981 release. The story centers around David Kessler (David Naughton) who transforms into a werewolf after being attacked while backpacking in the U.K. It has a lighthearted feel but the horror is full-on, with violent werewolf attacks, gore, and scary scenes. There are suicide references and David is seen trying to cut his wrists in one scene. The movie features male and female nudity, with breasts and a character's penis both shown. A sex scene involving David and a nurse, Alex Price (Jenny Agutter), takes place in a shower and bedroom. Occasional strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," one use of "c--t," and the homophobic slur "f--got." Despite the adult content, the movie is playful and fun, making it quality entertainment rather than nightmare fodder. For older teens, it's the perfect gateway to inventive genre-melding movies. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Not only is this horror comedy a gloriously entertaining watch, it also fizzes with energy. An American Werewolf in London has sparked the creativity and imagination of generations of young filmmakers since its 1981 release. Blending its two genres, writer and director John Landis delivers an experience that feels truly alive. The characters are great to hang out with, whether they're the cagey villagers or the charming young couple David and Alex (Jenny Agutter). The horror is thrilling, relentless, and inventive. While the humor comes just at the right time to ease the tension.
Jack Baker's monster and werewolf transformation effects are gooey and memorable and won the film an Academy Award for Best Makeup. Indeed Landis and Baker worked together again on Michael Jackson's Thriller music video. An American Werewolf in London might not be for everyone but an older teen with an interest in horror, comedy, or both may well find a new favourite movie.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.