Saturday, February 4, 2012

An American Werewolf in London

The final movie in my birthday slumber party was An American Werewolf in London, but first things first: what's up with the above trailer? It's pretty obviously a "teaser" trailer, but it manages to give absolutely no indication of what the movie is actually like, which is to say, a horror comedy, and is kind of all around lame. (The full trailer is better, but still kind of sucks.)

I'm drawing a bit of a blank on just where I originally saw American Werewolf. I have memories of seeing either it, or The Howling, or both, at a drive-in in 1981 with my parents, but I also found this flyer, in my "Genre Book," for a sneak preview screening at the Royal Theater.

I really don't remember going to that, so maybe my father went, and saved the flyer, and then took me and my mother to see both at the drive-in at a later point.

I will say, its existence on video in January of 1982 puts the kibosh on my assumption that movies took about a year to make it to home video back then, as Werewolf came out in August of 1981. What we watched that day was most likely a rental from Captain Video, the only place we rented movies from at that time.

Now, I remember liking the movie a lot, enough to warrant watching it for a second time at my birthday party, so my rating it a 3 1/2 in my ledger is a bit perplexing, especially since I gave Ghost Story--a much worse movie--a three. But then again, I probably shouldn't put much faith into any of those ratings; I was twelve!

Still, the movie does have flaws even a twelve-year-old could recognize, the biggest of which is its ending. It's just ludicrous and lame. (Spoiler alert, but: So, he basically freaks out, transforms, causes a ruckus in Piccadilly Circus, and is shot. The ending is really, really abrupt, and just feels like Landis didn't know how to end it. Plus, are we really supposed to believe those cops were able to shoot around Jenny Agutter in that dark alley, killing David instantly?)

The numerous dream sequences in the beginning of the movie don't really work, either, and too often just seem like an excuse for John Landis to do something he thought would be cool, like having Nazi werewolves go on a rampage.

The film is much more successful when it's funny, and it's that combination of laughs and scares that makes it something still worthy of watching.

This is probably my favorite scene in the movie; it's a perfect blend of the disgusting and the comedic:

That moment when Jack says "DAVID!" gets me every time.

I'll end this with another bit from that Genre Book: a brief mention of the movie from an issue of Trashola, and a mini-review from the East Bay Express.

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