Saturday, September 12, 2009

#52 - An American Werewolf in London

An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Moderately Trashy

Written and Directed by: John Landis.

Plot: Two buddies (David Naughton & Griffin Dunne) are attacked by a werewolf while hiking through the English countryside. Griffin Dunne gets killed but David Naughton survives. He goes to London, becomes a werewolf, hooks up with Jenny Agutter and gets haunted by the ghosts of his victims. Groovy.

Review: This is one of those movies that’s just generally likeable - it’s hard to find a person who cannot withstand the charms of this movie (actually, that’s not true. It scared the crap out of both my aunt and my brother when they were little and they both still hate it). I find it hard to withstand the charms of this movie, despite the fact that the humour is occasionally a little broad.

But it’s a reasonably good werewolf movie. There is, in my limited experience, no such thing as the perfect werewolf movie, but this one is pretty good. It’s pretty funny most of the time, and it’s very gory (win!).

And the FX are pretty rad. I know it’s been said time and again but the transformation scene is the shit. I can’t think of a better one off-hand. Like, The Howling was pretty good, but the werewolves looked like muppets, thus undermining the coolness of that movie. Of course, the Frank Oz cameo in this movie somehow increases the coolness... go figure.

Course, these days, most werewolf transformation scenes are done with CGI which sucks in a major way. How can advances be made with stop motion FX when everything is CG? Stupid. People should just lay off the CGI and go back to using puppets. Puppets were the best. Actually, on second though, no. One should only traverse so far into Jim Henson country - its very dangerous. Too far and you wind up with The Dark Crystal which, though awesome and quite terrifying, is not exactly what you want in this context.

Really, though, stop motion is where it's at. Stop-motion > puppets > CG. I mean... Ray Harryhausen is the shit.

Yeah, um, Rick Baker too. Or something. This is getting a little weird.

Moving on. This movie is pretty groovy, albeit a little bit on the light and fluffy side. It’s good entertainment.

Favourite Part: Pretty much any scene with Griffin Dunne, who sort of decomposes slowly throughout the film. He gets all of the best dialogue and provides lols all around. Also, the weird double Frank Oz cameo (he appears as... a guy (I think he was from the American embassy but I don't remember) and also as Miss Piggy on the telly. Possibly in the same scene, though I don't recall) - WTH? Interesting.

Other versions: None, although they are starting to remake everything from the eighties now so it could (God forbid) be on its way.

((Update: IMDb says there is a remake scheduled for 2011. See, I was right))

Sequels: An American Werewolf in Paris.

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