A Passion For Horror
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An American Werewolf in London
Directed by John Landis
(Twenty-First Anniversary Special Edition)
An American Werewolf in London is a cult classic comedy horror film from 1981. At the time of its release the film broke new ground by showing the viewer a detailed transformation of man into werewolf (the scene took a week to film). There had never been a werewolf film quite like it. In fact when Michael Jackson saw the film he was so impressed that he hired the same Director for his 1983 Thriller video.
At the beginning of the film two American students are backpacking through the Yorkshire Dales. It is bleak, miserable weather and although David is enjoying himself, his friend Jack is not having a good time at all. Jack is looking forward to exploring Italy later on in their trip: Northern England first and Italy later and some sheep have just shit on Jack's pack. He is less than impressed
At the small village of East Proctor, the boys decide to go into the local pub and warm themselves up for a while. It is a charming little place called The Slaughtered Lamb, where the locals are less than friendly and there is a pentangle painted on the wall. Jack is quick to point it out to David as being the mark of the wolfman, and he suggests that David ask someone about it. David is less than keen and the locals are just beginning to show signs of warming to the two boys when Jack makes the mistake of asking the question himself. Silence falls over the room and a man who was playing darts gets particularly angry: "You made me miss," he says, pointing a finger at the Americans. Apparently he has never missed the board before and David and Jack decide that it might be prudent for them to leave.
"You can't let them go," the landlady says.
"God be with you," says one of the locals who is playing chess.
"Stay on the road, and keep clear of the moors," the man at the dartboard tells them. "Beware the moon lads," the chess player adds.
On that cheery note David and Jack make a quick exit into the cold night air and the landlady, shaking her head, repeats: "You can't let them go." But they have let them go and, as the chess player says, "It's in God's hands now."
When they hear the sound of howling coming from across the moor, the lads start to get more than a little worried. To make matters worse they then notice that not only is it a full moon, but they have left the road as well: "Oops!" Suddenly The Slaughtered Lamb doesn't seem so bad after all and the boys decide to head back to it. Maybe it would have been better if they had never left there in the first place because seconds later they are attacked. Jack is ripped apart and then the monster decides it wants a piece of David too. Fortunately for David though, the guys from the pub must have had an attack of conscience and they come to the rescue bearing guns. They shoot the beast before it can do much more than inflict a few nasty scratches on David, but perhaps that is more damage than anyone realizes and the American passes out.
David wakes up in a hospital bed and finds himself under the gentle administrations of Nurse Alex Price (Jenny Agutter), who is rather easy on the eye to say the least, and is quite taken with the injured American. David might have survived the attack, but he is not out of the woods yet because he is having bad dreams. In fact, in one of his dreams he is running, naked, through the woods and snacking on live deer. Some of his other dreams are more unusual still and David begins to fear for his sanity. Of course, it doesn't help matters when his dead friend, Jack, visits him, looking red and runny and with his windpipe displayed. Yuk! Jack warns David that he will change into a werewolf at the next full moon. "Kill yourself," he tells him, "before you kill others." And they used to be such good friends!
Things are, perhaps, not all doom and gloom for David because when he is released Alex invites him to stay at her apartment. Being neither blind nor stupid he accepts her invitation and waves a glad goodbye to any chance of further bedrest. The full moon is not far away though, David is still having bad dreams and Jack keeps on visiting and looks a little more decomposed each time.
Then when the full moon rises David's problems really begin.
An American Werewolf in London is a great film. The script is good, the cast are excellent and, as far as living dead guys go, Jack is particularly amusing: "The undead surround me. Have you ever talked to a corpse? It's Boring!" And he delivers the word 'boring' like the punchline of a joke. The film does contain a fair amount of blood and gore, and at one point a rather annoying police detective gets his head taken right off his shoulders with one snap of the werewolf's powerful fangs, and the head then proceeds to in an un-orderly fashion to bounce off the bonnet of a police car, where it leaves rather a nasty red stain. Horror and humour though run hand-in-hand throughout An American Werewolf in an even mix. There are plenty of shocks, but just as many laughs and this film is a particularly fine example of how horror and humour can work very well together.
The film can also boast and excellent soundtrack and the song Bad Moon Rising, sung by Credance Clearwater Survival will always be one of my favourites. It rocks!
So, great soundtrack, great cast, script and special effects, and, let's not forget, a great, big hairy werewolf. What's not to love about this film? It's fantastic.
The twenty-first anniversary edition is a two disc set and the extras include:
And a four page booklet containing production notes.
Naughton ... David Kessler
See You Next Wednesday (Adult film shown in cinema):
Drew ... Brenda Bristols
Audio Dolby Digital
5.1 Aspect Ratio 16:9 Anamorphic
Widescreen Run Time 93 Minutes
(Film) + 56
Minutes (Extras) Language English Subtiltes English (deaf
Dolby Digital 5.1
16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen
93 Minutes (Film) + 56 Minutes (Extras)
English (deaf and hard of hearing)
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