I suppose it was only a matter of time until a remake was announced for 1981s AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. It’s only one of the best horror films ever made so I’m sort of surprised it took them this long. (I guess its lackluster 1997 “sequel” AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN PARIS probably slowed things down.) All I know is that no matter how good the remake might end up, it will never have the atomic bomb effect on me that the original did. You see, that crazy movie had the nerve to land smack dab in the middle of a horror movie that was happening in my own life: a horror movie called “puberty”. Although that time period is far, far in the rear view mirror, AMERICAN WEREWOLF will always bring to my mind the fear of losing control of my body and the confusing rush of energy that made me kind of like it.
I realize that the interwebs are the ultimate mixed company, so I’ll spare you the gruesome details and keep my paws on the table at all times. The sad, dreary, basic truth is that JOHN LANDIS’ lycanthropic opus pushed sweet innocent me off a cliff and I have not seen that poor creature since. Up until then adulthood was a destination that I thought was cater made for unimaginative rubes. The prospect of jumping on the coffin conveyer belt did not appeal to me in the slightest. You could pitch fame and fortune to me until the cows came home; I did not care; I wanted to be alone with my STAR WARS figurines. The shower scene in AMERICAN WEREWOLF between DAVID NAUGHTON and JENNY AGUTTER changed all that; this mortal coil now had my full attention. Sure, I was still torn between which of those fine thespians to ogle, but I rightfully figured that eventually that would all come out in the wash.
Truth be told, the avalanche of early eighties body transformation movies ALL seemed to be directly speaking to my guilt ridden, yet wide-eyed and bushy-tailed libido in training wheels; CAT PEOPLE (If you touch me I’ll turn into a monster!) THE HOWLING (Everybody is in on this secret except me!) THE BEAST WITHIN (My parents must never know of the creature I’ve become!),VIDEODROME ( Holy crap. I’m like a RICK JAMES level Super Freak!) and even JOHN CARPENTER’S THE THING (A young me stands up in class, raises his hand and says, ”Here!”) The general that lead this dysmorphic brigade though, had to have been none other than AMERICAN WEREWOLF. Gosh, they even ventured inside a porno movie theater in that one, plus it was the first time I ever heard the term “quickie.”
Putting lasciviousness aside, AMERICAN WEREWOLF successfully popped the top off of every other bottle in my six-pack as well. It scared the living daylights out of me (I still remember the spooky, at dusk, trek home after the movie.) It made me laugh my head off with sick glee (The dead woman in the movie theater smiling through bloody teeth helpfully offering, “You just put the gun to your forehead and pull the trigger!” as a way for our hero to escape his dilemma, still cracks me up), and, call me a softy, but the authentic affection shared between NAUGHTON and AGUTTER actually did seem like a worthwhile experience to shelve my action figures for. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to incorporate all of these divergent elements together so smoothly but while JOHN LANDIS was kicking my ass out of childhood, he made a kick ass movie as well, one whose potency might be very hard to emulate in this day and age. Good luck remake people! You’ll need it!
NOTE: It is important to note that Mr. DAVID NAUGHTON was successfully able to elbow JENNY AGUTTER out of the ogle race eventually (not that the WALKABOUT star didn’t put up a good fight). What can I say? I guess was born to be a “Pepper!”