Lists are great. They inspire discussion, create arguments, and tend to spiral off into fun new lists. When you do a list about the “BEST” of anything it goes from being fun to becoming a hotbed for arguments. There’s no such thing as a definitive list but I’ve decided to pull from my rather extensive life of film watching and put it to good use.
This is not the “film critic’s top 100” list. There’s no guarantee Citizen Kane or The Bicycle Thief will be in the top echelon or even on the list. This is the 100 movies I would put my name on as my top 100. If I died tomorrow this would represent the 100 films I find most vital, special, or ones that bonded to whatever it is that makes me me. I’m not including documentaries, though that might make for a nice supplemental list.
The first 80 will be in no particular order. The last 20 will be in very particular order. One a day, you have my word.
#96 – An American Werewolf in London
Why is it here:
It’s not a great horror movie. It’s not a great horror comedy. It’s not a great showcase for special effects so good that the Academy changed the way they do business. Well, yes it’s all of those things but An American Werewolf in London is a great MOVIE, period. In fact, it’s the best movie about werewolves ever made. Not that it qualifies for this list based on that criteria, but it’s in a league all its own and for good reason. It’s smart, funny, heartbreaking, densely quotable, and stunningly effective in realizing its horrors. Rick Baker’s effects don’t work without David Naughton, Griffin Dunne, and Jenny Agutter delivering career-best performances. Their performances don’t work without John Landis directing to the peak of his abilities and the material doesn’t work without the mood intensifying music and editing bringing it all home. This is a nearly perfect movie, one that is scary, hilarious, and sexy often within minutes of one another. A classic in every sense of the word and a movie that has aged so well it’s one you can recommend to young people without a moment’s pause.
Moments to savor:
The meatloaf discussion. The nightmarish family-killing dream sequence. The dead in the movie theater coaxing David to kill himself. The boy at the zoo. Jenny Agutter sans clothes. The walk on the moors. The Slaughtered Lamb. “You made me miss”. The transformation to end all transformations. The escalator scene. Piccadilly Circus. The list goes on and on.
Just about the highest ever. This movie never gets old.
I love the poster Fro did for us for this movie. This movie was such a big part of my childhood it’s almost impossible to think of my childhood without it. The Videodisc I wore out. Then the VHS I wore out. Then the Laserdisc I wore out. Then the DVD I wore out. This is the definition of seminal.