Wednesday, 26 May 2010

An American Werewolf in London


Dir: John Landis (The Blues Brothers, Trading Places, Coming to America)
Cast: David Kessler, Jenny Agutter, Griffin Dunne, John Woodvine, Frank Oz
UK/USA, 1981

Seen: When I was way to young to watch it! Plus several times since then including May 21, 2010 on DVD

Reason to Watch & Review: For The Wolfathon *

The Wolfathon has been filled with new-to-me films so far, but An American Werewolf in London brings us to one of the more generally seen werewolf films, and it's one I have strong memories of. For me, my strongest memory of the film is it literally scaring the crap out of me. I'm shocked to think it's not on my Scariest Films of All Time list. I think I left it off the list because I thought (correctly) that I just saw it when I was inappropriately young, like younger than 10 years old, and also (incorrectly) that it wouldn't be scary as an adult. My bad there - it's still totally scary.

The amazing thing about An American Werewolf in London is that it excels on so many levels, although the acting isn't really one of them. It's not awful, but it feels intentionally obvious at times and somehow this really works for the film I'd even say that future horror films try to capture the same charm, and not not that many succeed. The story is firmly centred in traditional werewolf film lore a la The Wolf Man (1941), but brings great new flavours to the mix, namely fantastic effects and cheeky comedy. These are the two things that really set it apart, make it memorable and they both really hold the test of time over the years.

I completely expected not to be freaked out by it this time round, therefore was completely taken aback by when I almost spilled my bowl of popcorn during some of the freaky bits. It's goes all out on the scary front. The effects amazingly hold up even though it's from almost 30 years ago, and they use lots of different effects used throughout the film. It was a little more violent than I remember, and although it does have pop scares it doesn't rely on them and it's they actually work. It also uses not just frightening images but also freaky ideas and uncomfortable situations to make it even more visceral. But, because it often pairs this with comedy, you get relief and moments to laugh at throughout the film as well. They also use the soundtrack to their advantage, by using pretty much any song of that has 'moon' in the title, and places them perfectly in the film.

It's a total must-see for if you like horror or werewolf films as it uniquely incorporates the lore into every aspect of the film. I'd even go as far to say that anyone who can stand the gore and violence should see it, especially film fan. The comedy element, along with how it points out the ridiculousness of film devices, makes it a true gem.

Warnings: gore, violence, frightening images & situations

Shannon's Overall View:
I loved it, but it still scares me!
I'll buy it
I'd recommend it as all horror fans, especially fans of gory horror or horror comedy

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© Shannon Ridler, 2010

* The Wolfathon is a marathon exploring werewolf films in anticipation of the 2010 release of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse


Suzie Ridler said...

Man, even I was too young to see that when we watched it Shannon! That movie gave me the worst nightmare of my life. Not about werewolves, ironically. I still think the humour to this movie is classic and the two main male characters were perfect and so real. Interesting that you still feel frightened by the movie Shannon, I haven't seen it in a while. I don't think I could watch the moor scene even now.

Dan said...

I with you on the too-young-to-see American Werewolf. What is it about this movie. My mum was a big fan and I think I watched her VHS copy with my older cousin when I was about 7. Great film, and it still scares me too.

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