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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    Why I'm mad about...

    An American Werewolf in London

    It blazed the trail for horror comedy, says James Jackson

    Until An American Werewolf in London, the �horror comedy"� didn't really exist. The received wisdom was that a film would either be too scary to be funny, or too funny to be scary. Then came the line �Have you ever tried talking to a corpse, David? It's boring!�, delivered by a putrefying cadaver, and we were into new territory.

    Adult cinema audiences may have been amused and unnerved by John Landis' mix of pulp horror shocks and broad laughs but a generation of youngsters would watch the video and be terrified out of their skins. Accordingly, it has become one of those movies that inspires huge affection from that original audience, even if not from the serious critics, no fans of the Landis' oeuvre. Great art it isn't, but for a film with so much sharp-toothed gore it has charm by the bucket.

    At the core is a wolf-bites-man, man-turns-wolf premise that is as old as Lon Chaney's were-wig. Two American backpackers (David Naughton and Griffin Dunne) hike across a Yorkshire moor, have a run-in with the locals at The Slaughtered Lamb (�Beware the moon, lads, Brian Glover warns them in one of cinema's great pub scenes) and are savaged by a werewolf. The attack leads Naughton to London, where he experiences horrifying nightmares, romps with the NHS's finest (Jenny Agutter, left) and receives warning visits from his decaying undead friend.

    This last element is one of the original aspects of Landis' witty script. Instead of these confrontations being moments of screaming terror, the pair's conversations are jokey and bewildered. Dunne's reminiscing about the reactions at his funeral, as he gulps breakfast down his savaged neck, is priceless.

    When it finally comes, the transformation scene is heart-stopping even 20 years after effects wizard Rick Baker devised it: we see and hear the hapless lycanthrope's bones stretching, his jaw protruding in a grotesquely priapic manner. Counterpointing the horror, Blue Moon plays sweetly in the background; Landis has great fun with the moon-themed soundtrack (Bad Moon Rising and Moondance also feature).

    This is also one of the great London movies, a bizarre tour of the capital in the early 1980s, taking in a farcical nude scene in London Zoo, a chaotic climax in Piccadilly Circus and an eerie stalk through a strangely empty Tottenham Court Road Tube station.

    The squeamish may still find American Werewolf a questionable source of entertainment, but remember it's just a scary wolf movie with a sense of fun. As the closing legal disclaimer puts it: �Any resemblance to any persons living, dead, or undead is coincidental."

  2. #2
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    I am still haunted by teh day I went to see "American Wereolf In London" at the drab old East End cinemas here in Melbourne. I was about 11 years old and I handed the sour old bag behind the counter a $10 note for the ticket, one that had been scrunched up in my pocket.



    She refused to serve me and ordered me to leave the theatre, go outside and flatten the note nicely, then come back in to the back of the queue with an apology ready.



    I was so eager to see the film that I did as I was told.



    It is funny...the amount of things I have forgotten over the years, but little moments like that still rankle in my mind.

  3. #3
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    Great film,but the moment when Jenny Aguter strips off, for a teenager at that time brilliant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. #4
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    Jenny was always stripping off in those days (Walkabout, Equus, Logan's Run).



    American Werewolf in London wasn't scary - I saw it in the cinema and it wasn't a patch on Alien a year or so earlier for pants-s******g.



    There's 4 basic ways to scare people:



    1. Gory scenes/unpleasant images - decapitation, mutilation, disembowelment etc.



    2. Sudden shock (usually delivered with an ear-splitting blast from the "musical director".



    3. The threat of a terrible creature/monster delivering an unspeakable (better to keep the details in the realm of the imagination) death.



    4. Supernatural power that will destroy is in much more than just in a physical way.



    #1 & #2 are way too numerous to mention and more distasteful that scary.



    To my mind, only the original Jaws and Alien have been truly scary on point #3 (The Thing & Deep Rising was close). Some might think that Silence of the Lambs was scary - I didn't though Hopkin's performance was un-nerving.

    28 Days Later had an early moment too.



    For supernatural stories I can't think of too many. The original Hammer Dracula and more recently The Ring were scary.

    Rosemary's Baby had lots of atmosphere but lacked a "punch" - same with Poltergeist and Amityville Horror.



    Comedy and Horror don't go hand in hand. There were comic moments in Jaws and Alien but the nature of the beast was never the butt of the jokes unlike in American Werewolf.



    I thought Landis' follow up movie "Into the Night" with Jeff Goldblum and Michelle Pffiefer was better. Everytime you started thinking that the Iranian mobsters were akin to the Keystone Cops, they caught someone and killed them in an unpleasant way to sober up your mirth.



    Cheers from Rich

  5. #5
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    Yes Jenny Aguter; everything she was in, they were out. She even took her undergarments off in the Railway Children, little minx. She once went topless for a Disney voiceover. I have many fond memories of 'Equas'.



    My faverate scary moments are from 'The Haunting', the scene were the woman thinks there is someones touching her, but her roommate is at teh other side of the room, and the shock scene towards the end. All of 'The Haunting' really. Also, 'The Innocents' with Debra Kerr and the scene with the face at the window. Lastly, the famous shock moment from Black Narcissus . All kept me awake as a child. the same way that Jenny Aguterkept me awake when I was a little older, but for a different reason of course.



    C

  6. #6
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    On the original subject of "An American Werewolf in London", it's a movie I remember with great fondness from my early teens. I've only ever seen the movie on video, being too young to see it at the cinema. It is one of the very few movies that managed to make you scream and laugh throughout.



    I heard a rumour that the original cinema version followed the end credits with the British national anthem and a message congratulating Diana and Charles on the occasion of their wedding? Does anyone know if this is true?



    C

  7. #7
    Senior Member Country: Europe
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    I don't like horror films and I don't like horror-comedy films - but I'll make an exception in this case for obvious reasons!



    It is being shown in Bradford this Friday evening as part of the Fantastic Film Weekend and I'm still deciding whether or not to go down to get the chance of seeing it on the large screen. If I do, it'll probably be the first film on the large screen I've been to see of my own choice for well over twenty years

  8. #8
    Senior Member Country: England faginsgirl's Avatar
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    I loved the film especially the cliche pub scene .



    But I could never see the point of Jenny Aguter being in it. It gave the main character a place to live I suppose, but thats all I can see.



    xx

  9. #9
    Senior Member Country: England harryfielder's Avatar
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    AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON�Director John Landis�

    Central Casting must have sent 200-300 people down to Piccadilly for a night shoot on this production.

    None of us knew anything about the scenes we were going to be involved in so we just hung around coffee bars (Or other bars) chatting and having a night out in The West End.

    About 1 o'clock in the morning the production team gathered us all together and told us the scenes they were about to do. (You ain�t gonna believe this).

    A WEREWOLF is going to be running out of a cinema in Piccadilly Circus straight across Eros causing cars to crash and have people falling out of bus windows.

    (I�m thinking this will do the tourist trade the world of good)

    On a cue from the 1st A.D. the real police clear the roads of all late night Joe Public.

    The Central Casting crowd are all given places to stand and out of the woodwork comes our buses and cars and stunt people. We�ve got permission to hold up traffic for half an hour and John Landis had multi camera crews covering every angle.

    It was over as quickly as it began and as soon as the camera�s stopped rolling the wrecking crews were in there clearing the wrecked cars and sweeping the streets clean again. An hour later it was like we�d never been.

    (See the film just to see this sequence)

    Well done, John Landis�


    Aitch,

  10. #10
    Senior Member Country: England
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    I too remember the Charles & Diana footnote, I think it is on the

    VHS recording I have.



    I love this film, it's just off-beat, however you look at it.

    I can't understand why some scenes are cut for television though.

  11. #11
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    There is also the BBC Radio play, which starred Jenny and John Woodvine, and takes a slightly different storyline to the film.

  12. #12
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    I hadn't realised that John Landis wrote and directed this - he and John Hughes are two of my favourite 'Hollywood' directors/writers. I told somebody this once and they sniffed a bit..as though the 'lighthearted' nature of many of the movies they have made somehow devalued them as writers/directors. I think - not at all!



    Amercan Werewolf (the original) had a great impact on me - it was the darkest 'comedy' I had ever seen. I remember noticing at the time (mid eighties on TV) how sharp the dialogue was and how the writing and direction cleverly and subtly played with cliches (unlike Sean of the Dead which hits you over the head with them...)



    The scene in the cinema with the corpse talking has stayed with me...a very young Rik Mayall is sitting in the bar at the beginning...



    I don't like 'horror' movies generally - but this was intriguing and amusing and payed off as pure entertainment.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Country: UK EHV_Emmetts's Avatar
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    When the "Werewolf" in question is finally revealed it looked more like a giant bear than a wolf.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    When the "Werewolf" in question is finally revealed it looked more like a giant bear than a wolf.
    True



    I disliked this film intensely. The idea was a good one, but the violence was so ferocious and brutal that I felt as if I wanted to hide under my seat.



    I haven't seen it in more than two decades, but I recall a "dream" scene ( I think it was a dream?) of a family being killed. It was absolutely arbitrary and irrelevant. It remains one of the most genuinely horrifying scenes I have ever seen.



    I saw it with a friend who was infatuated with Jenny Agutter, and had been since Logan's Run. That was the reason we saw it.

  15. #15
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    A few years ago me and my father went out to Cornwall in the motor home and we got lost on the way back. Near Dartmoor, I thought we could go through here because thats where the pub is in the film. We went past the pub and I said, "There it is". Later at home I found that those scenes were actually filmed in on the Yorkshire Moors! Damm, but that pub looked identical!!



    The bloke who runs through the tube and dies on the escalator, me and my father saw all that in London. We went down that escalator. Its near Embankment.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    A few years ago me and my father went out to Cornwall in the motor home and we got lost on the way back. Near Dartmoor, I thought we could go through here because thats where the pub is in the film. We went past the pub and I said, "There it is". Later at home I found that those scenes were actually filmed in on the Yorkshire Moors! Damm, but that pub looked identical!!

    The bloke who runs through the tube and dies on the escalator, me and my father saw all that in London. We went down that escalator. Its near Embankment.
    There are aspects of the production that are impressive. The sequences on the moors have considerable power, and the tube scene is very well done: as a man who has worked in an office and taken the subway in Boston and NYC many times in the years since I saw it, that scene remains very clear!

  17. #17
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    Love "American Werewolf." My favorite Landis film after "Animal House."

  18. #18
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    Being as we've now got the Halloween background, that reminds me what I'll be watching tomorrow.



    Got to be AAWIL with the NHS's most gorgeous nurse:




  19. #19
    Super Moderator Country: UK christoph404's Avatar
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    A few years ago me and my father went out to Cornwall in the motor home and we got lost on the way back. Near Dartmoor, I thought we could go through here because thats where the pub is in the film. We went past the pub and I said, "There it is". Later at home I found that those scenes were actually filmed in on the Yorkshire Moors! Damm, but that pub looked identical!!

    The bloke who runs through the tube and dies on the escalator, me and my father saw all that in London. We went down that escalator. Its near Embankment.
    There was no actual filming in Yorkshire or Dartmoor, the Yorkshire Moors were the film's supposed settings but "the Moors" filming was in the "Black Mountains" region of Wales. The exterior of the pub was a mocked up residential cottage in the village of Crickadarn ("East Proctor" in the film) off the A479. The interior of the pub is in Surrey, its "The Black Swan" near Effingham Junction(between Guildford and Leatherhead) The London Underground filming was actually at Tottenaham Court Road Tube, normally underground filming for movies is done at the closed Aldwych station on the Strand with signs changed accordingly by the prop dept, in this instance Tottenham Court Road was used in the small hours .

  20. #20
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    loved brian glovers character in awil , from him holding court in the pub telling the mexican joke to the serious warning in his distinctive accent keep to the path, beware the mooooon

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