I think one of the first movies I ever saw that gave me the jeepers was this one. It remains 53 on the Observation Blogger favourite movie list. There are many scenes which come to memory, but in particular the initial scenes of the two men wandering through the Moors and the man alone in the underground train station stood out to me as a young-en. The scene of the American’s (Dave) conversion to a werewolf (with Creedence’s Bad Moon Rising) is just brilliant and still holds up solid today. It is said the real star of this film is the Oscar-winning transformation effects by Rick Baker, who changed the face of horror makeup in the 1980s. Also the whole music soundtrack is dedicated to the ‘Moon’.
I haven’t seen this movie played on cable and it’s rarely discussed in horror circles, but it remains one of my favourite horror-suspense movies.The movie was written by John Landis in 1969 but shelved more than a decade until it saw the light of day. The movie was intended to be a comedy of sorts, but financiers didn’t see the funny side of comedy mixed with horror. When director Landis (Animal House, The Blues Brothers) did get the go-ahead and eventually made it, American Werewolf was a critical and commercial success. It’s definitely what I consider a cult classic and why it appears here in Friday’s Finest.
‘Two American college students are on a walking tour of Britain and are attacked by a werewolf. One is killed, the other is mauled. The werewolf is killed but reverts to its human form, and the local townspeople are unwilling to acknowledge its existence. The surviving student begins to have nightmares of hunting on four feet at first but then finds that his friend and other recent victims appear to him, demanding that he commit suicide to release them from their curse, being trapped between worlds because of their unnatural deaths.’
The film by Landis’ account was purposely filmed in bad weather. The Moors were filmed around the Black Mountains in Wales, and East Proctor is in reality the tiny village of Crickadarn, about six miles southeast of Builth Wells. According to IMDB – ‘An American Werewolf in London was the first film allowed to shoot in Piccadilly Circus in 15 years. Landis accomplished this by inviting 300 members of London’s Metropolitan Police Service to a screening of his then-newly released film The Blues Brothers. The police were so impressed by his work that they granted the production a two-night filming permit between the hours of 1 and 4 a.m. Traffic was stopped only three times for two-minute increments to film the automobile stunts involving the double-decker bus’.
In conclusion, American werewolf is really fun to watch. Great performances and great script. Unlike monster/horror movies today, this film has no computer-aided special effects. It doesn’t need them, for this it is a landmark film. While it’s funny as hell, some scenes still scare the hell out of me like when I was a kid. The movie at times is inappropriate with lots of gore and nudity, and it’s not without its flaws, but it’s so god-damn entertaining you don’t care about it.