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An American Werewolf in London

July 7th, 2009 by unkle lancifer · 8 Comments

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!”

Tags: Repeat Offenders

8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 senskiNo Gravatar // Jul 7, 2009 at 10:21 am

    Wow – who knew that “David Naughton” is German for “Elliott Gould”…?

    I’ve got this one-sheet up in my home; though it doesn’t give you a sense of the comedic elements, it’s sleek, classy & iconic, and if it’s not Saul Bass, it’s a damn good simulation.

    And a little something for all the other Peppers out there – those of us who remember Disco –

  • 2 Tommy SalamiNo Gravatar // Jul 7, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    One of my favorite movies. I ogled Ms. Agutter but this movie is so memorable for many other reasons. I don’t think anyone ever forgets David’s nightmares!

  • 3 Jeff AllardNo Gravatar // Jul 7, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    What an amazing movie! I remember seeing clips of Naughton’s transformation scene on Entertainment Tonight at the time of AWIL’s release and having my jaw hit the floor. Kids today take the most astonishing FX in stride but in 1981, Rick Baker’s work was impossible not to be floored by. That was one of the last times when FX still had that astonishment factor of “how’d they do that?” and it’s sad that those days are long gone.

  • 4 PhantomWerewolfNo Gravatar // Jul 7, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    I’m looking forward and yet dreading this remake. The sequel was really… not a good movie and I think a big part of that is the CGI.

    Monsters aren’t scary when they don’t look like they can’t exist outside a computer game. AWIL was horrifying and yet captivating to me as a child because I really believed that David was transforming before my eyes!

    They’d better stick to special effects for this one cuz I can tell ya, a CG transformation will have fans foaming at the mouth. I’ll probably go see it no matter what I hear… being a werewolf junky can have its drawbacks.

  • 5 Diana N.No Gravatar // Jul 7, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    What a movie. My dad took me to see this when it was released at the movies. I was 10. I spent the majority of the movie hiding under my dads coat, and when I peeked up I saw David talking to he very decomposed friend. Needless to say my head was rapidly back under the coat. At one point my dad had to take me to the bathroom for respite as I was feeling ill. I had nightmares for years afterwards. I could never listen to the song, “Bad Moon Rising” without breaking into a cold sweat. When the 25th anniversary DVD came out my dad gave it to me as a present. I love this movie. This could possibly be the main source of my kindertrauma, along with Jaws, couldn’t even swim in a pool for a very long time after that one.

  • 6 PinchyNo Gravatar // Jul 7, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Ha! I just re-watched American Werewolf the other day (for the umpteenth time), and was once again marveling at how well it was made. I hate to hear that it is on the docket for yet another “re-imagining” by some director who probably has a fraction of Landis’s talent. There are few movies that are able to balance horror and surreal humor as deftly as AWIL. Not to mention the groundbreaking visual effects…..

    So the only thing about a remake that *might* get me excited would be Rob Bottin heading up the effects (what with Rick Baker busy with the Wolfman remake). I have to admit that seeing these two go head to head with competing werewolf movies AGAIN would be pretty damn satisfying.

  • 7 LaDraculNo Gravatar // Jul 7, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    Calm down, it’s not a remake. Since Universal owns the rights, and Dimension is owned by Disney, they are actively looking into making more sequels set in various locales around the world.

    Of course, what really confuses me about the movie is, how come his siblings back in NY are watching a UK spot from “The Muppet Show”?

  • 8 Amanda By NightNo Gravatar // Jul 10, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    I love AWIN. When I was about 10 or 11, I saw it over 100 times. True story! I counted. My best friend down the street made up an AWIL quiz for me and my niece (who said she’d seen it a bunch of times too) and of course, I mopped the floor with her.

    David Naughton is SO friggin’ hot. And had great timing and was wonderful as a put upon kind of guy. You really felt for him and his situation.

    Also, he’s the first guy I saw naked. Nice!

    I think AWIL was also the first vhs tape I ever bought too. Wow.

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