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Myths, monsters and legends have persisted in human history for thousands of years. The more famous and terrifying ones have continued to make their way into pop culture over the past several decades, such as vampires, zombies, and more. Another beast that has survived through time is the werewolf: a man who can transform into a terrifying wolf-like creature on a full moon. And since the invention of the moving image (movies/cinema), werewolves and other creatures have been at the forefront of film ideas.

Two of the most popular werewolf movies (along with a third, wolves) ever be made both came in 1981: An American werewolf in London, directed by John Landis and starring David Naughton; and the howl, directed by Joe Dante and starring Dee Wallace. Both are highly rated films (89% vs. 73%); both are box office hits (10x budget return vs. 9x budget return), and both are highly regarded werewolf films. Now the question is, more than forty years later, which movie won the 1981 Werewolf Battle?

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Critical Reception: An American Werewolf in London

As I said, both An American werewolf in London and the howl are both some of the most iconic werewolf movies in cinematic history; and both were positively received by audiences and reviewers alike. But, An American werewolf in London has the stronger reviews on several review sites than the howling; 7.5/10 vs 6.5/10 on IMDB and 8.9/10 vs 7.3/10 on Rotten Tomatoes. Famed film critic Roger Ebert gave both films two stars out of four in his reviews, though he can’t decide which he prefers. And finally, Metacritic gives the winning edge the howl, with 8.3/10 versus 7.9/10. Although both films were close in reviews and ratings, critics almost universally preferred it An American werewolf in London to the howl.


Box Office: The Howlhowlingstill1resize

Movies back then didn’t have the big budgets they have today. The average today is about $65 million to make a major studio film (with Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides highest budget ever at $422 million), while in the 1980s the average budget was about $18 million. The budgets for An American werewolf in London and the howl? $5.8 million and $1.5 million, respectively; making the box office return of these two films all the more impressive. American werewolf made about $62 million at the box office, which is about a 10.69x return on investment for Universal Pictures. the howl earned $17.9 million from its smaller budget, giving Sony Pictures an 11.93x return. A Herculean feat of both films earning more than 10x the spend, however the howl made more return on investment than An American werewolf in London.


Awards: An American Werewolf in London

Both are (again) two of the most iconic werewolf-centric films of all time, both critically and at the box office. An American werewolf in London and the howl share quite a few accolades and accolades among the two creations. the howl received five nominations (IMDB) and won two awards: the 1981 Saturn Award for Best Horror Film and the Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival Critics Award. On the other side of the coin An American werewolf in London was nominated for six awards (just beating out its competitor) and also won two awards: an Academy Award for Best Make-Up and the 1982 Saturn Awards for Best Horror Film. Although extremely close, the advantage is there An American werewolf in Londonwhat differs the howl for being ranked the 107th greatest film of all time by critics in a 2008 Empire Magazine poll.


See also: Best Special Effects in 80’s Horror Movies

Overall: An American werewolf in London

An American werewolf in London and the howl are two of the most iconic horror films of recent memory and two of the best werewolf films in cinemas. Both continue to shape the appearance and stories of werewolves in film to this day. Even the werewolves themselves remain an iconic sight to this day (thanks to Rick Baker and Rob Bottin), with David Naughton’s all-time monster transformation American werewolfand the absolutely terrifying designs and appearances of the beasts within the howl. With its highly acclaimed reviews and receptions from critics and audiences alike, along with various awards it has won, An American werewolf in London wins the Werewolf Movie Battle of 1981. With higher ratings across the board and just a few more awards and nominations, An American werewolf sits just above its iconic rival; although the howl has achieved a higher return on investment than American werewolf did.


Even though An American werewolf wins the battle of 1981, both films remain among the most timeless horror classics in cinematic history, and both films will be remembered as such with their powerful legacy.

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