Horror Collection A to Z: American Werewolves

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YES!

Next up in my new I Love Splatter! Project today, in which I am going to watch every single one of my horror dvds in order, from A to Z is An American Werewolf in London (1981) and its sequel, An American Werewolf in Paris (1997). You can also see me talk about this on video in my Instagram stories & highlights (@ilovesplatter).

An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Directed by John Landis
Starring: David Naughton as David Kessler, Griffin Dunne as Jack Goodman, and Jenny Agutter as Nurse Alex Price.

IMDb description: Two American college students on a walking tour of Britain are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists.

WHAT I REMEMBERED:
Quite a lot, as this is one of my go-to faves and I watch it at least once every few years. The attack on the moors, Jack’s ever-decomposing corpse, Nazi werewolf soldiers, the mind-blowing transformation scene with F/X by Rick Baker, and the stunning ending in Piccadilly Circus.

NOW THAT I’VE REWATCHED IT:
The Slaughtered Lamb scene is as brilliant as always – record scratch moment as Jack & David walk in, followed by the most awkward story told by a local EVER. The things that I always seem to forget are: the reallllllllllllllly long, drawn out sex scene; the kid in the hospital ward who just says, “No!” over and over and over; the weird Naughty Nina show David is watching just before his change, and the doctor trying to hunt down the truth.

David & Jack have amazing banter, even with one of them in the afterlife, and the story moves along at a pretty good pace. The moon-themed music soundtrack adds an extra layer of hilarity, and the action shots are extremely cinematic. THAT SUBWAY SCENE TAKES MY BREATH AWAY EVERY TIME!

This is still a very SOLID film all the way through, and even though it seems pretty unbelievable that Nurse Alex would invite a total stranger back to her flat to basically live with her — even though he’s a suspect in his friend’s murder — I can (mostly) let it slide. It’s being able to believe these two strangers could fall in love at first sight that makes the end so bittersweet anyway.  

Special F/X report: This is pretty much a masterclass in practical effects. Jack’s death is impressively gory, the werewolf transformation is insane, and all the murders are fantastic. Lots of bloody goodness within!  

NO.

An American Werewolf in Paris (1997)
Directed by Anthony Waller
Starring: Tom Everett Scott as Andy McDermott, Julie Delpy as Serafine Pigot, Vince Vieluf as Brad, Phil Buckman as Chris, Julie Bowen as Amy, and Pierre Cosso as Claude.

IMDb description: An American man unwittingly gets involved with French werewolves who have developed a serum allowing them to transform at will.

WHAT I REMEMBERED:
That both Tom Everett Scott & Julie Delpy are totally, incredibly adorable – and in particular the scene where he sees her stealing a human heart from the hospital, a doctor runs into him and says, “She has my heart!” — and Tom replies, “I know how you feel, pal.” Also the main part of the plot, in which French werewolves throw parties for Americans only in the catacombs, transform, and eat them all (really clever, y’all! I still love it). I remember there are very little practical F/X and tons of bad CGI, which is the main reason genre fans pushed back on it when it was released.

NOW THAT I’VE REWATCHED IT:
OOF. A lot of this just does not hold up! Andy’s friends are totally gross and unlikeable – trying to rack up “sex points” along their tour or Europe (ew); there’s a scene in which they imply that Andy as werewolf basically f*cked a dog to death (double ew); the soundtrack is a bunch of 1997 hits, including Bush’s Mouth played over and over and over and over and over – and yeah, those werewolf transformations were pretty terrible.

Things I had totally forgotten: Andy & his friends are apparently EXTREME SPORTS junkies; Andy meets Seraphine while he’s trying to bungee jump off the Eiffel Tower, and saves her (just barely) from suicide by catching her as she jumps off; Julie Bowen playing a trashy tourist, Andy’s first victim; the whole mad-science subplot, in which Serafine’s father is trying to cure her werewolf’ism with a serum, and unwittingly creates something that will turn werewolves into their animal half on demand; and uh … that incredibly cheesy closing sequence with Andy & Seraphine bungee jumping off the Statue of Liberty.

That said, Tom & Julie are still ridiculously endearing, and somehow it works that she cares about him after only meeting him a day before (I mean, he DID save her life). Bottom line; if these two weren’t in it as the leads, I probably wouldn’t enjoy anything about this movie and would toss it promptly into the giveaway pile. But! They are, so I will keep it in my collection.

Special F/X report: There are a few more practical effects than I remembered, and even enhanced by CGI the gore works pretty well. What doesn’t work, at all, are the werewolf transformations. Seeing them unfold in CGI is pretty anticlimactic, especially because the wolves don’t even look all that scary. There is some suspense when the wolves are in the shadows, but up close you definitely know you’re looking at something that is computer generated. Part of this, I’m sure, is due to 1997 tech, but I dunno – I’d rather see sort of shitty practical stuff than sort of shitty technical stuff.

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