1. An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Director: John Landis
Stars: David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Griffin Dunne, John Woodvine, Lila Kaye, Frank Oz
An American Werewolf in London, directed by comedy legend John Landis (National Lampoon’s Animal House, Coming to America), does a pitch-perfect job of melding the two most important elements of any successful horror-comedy: legitimate scares and genuine laughs. In the scare department, Landis benefitted immensely from Rick Baker’s Oscar-winning makeup effects, which morphed tourist turned lycanthrope David Kessler (David Naughton) into one of the most horrifying werewolves ever caught on film. And that first transformation sequence, shot with a steady camera and convincingly looking as if David’s bones really are stretching, hasn't lost any of its impact.
Being that Landis is such a comedic master, An American Werewolf in London is also funny as hell, particularly whenever David’s undead best friend, the wisecracking Jack Goodman (Griffin Dunne), appears on screen to drop a one-liner and show his worsening bodily decay. The fact that Landis was able to so effectively combine his standard funny business with serious, tongue-out-of-cheek horror makes An American Werewolf in London a brilliant case study in this list’s subgenre of choice.