An American Werewolf in London (Re-release) (15)

Film

Horror films

An American Werewolf.jpg

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>5</span>/5
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Time Out says

Tue Oct 27 2009

It’d be interesting to see polling data on how many Brits recall John Landis’s hysterical gore-spattered masterpiece as that all-important rite of passage: their first 18. Well, the folks at the BBFC have ruined all that: in reclassifying the film, they’ve made all our childhoods seem that little bit less dangerous. Which is no reflection on the film: horror-comedy is overfamiliar nowadays, with diminishing returns, but this only makes Landis’s achievement more impressive. Not just gory but actually frightening, not just funny but clever, ‘American Werewolf…’ has its flaws, but these are outweighed by the film’s many, mighty strengths: the soundtrack is astounding, the characterisation is marvellous and the one-liners are endlessly memorable (‘a naked American man stole my balloons!’). A classic, no less.
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Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri Oct 30, 2009

Duration:

107 mins

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3.8 / 5

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GravesendJoe

Funny that Tom Huddleston should talk about American Werewolf being a rite-of-passage, because it was my own. One evening in 1986 (it must have been ’86) dad was working nights, and mum – rather inexplicably - allowed me and the boys to stay up and watch this film. She must have thought it was Hammer-style frolics - Oliver Reed with joke-shop fangs dressed in a torn shirt. Of course horror cinema had increased to an intensity far beyond Hammer House’s by the early 80s, when American Werewolf was filmed. The nightmares I had after watching this at six-years-old were well worth it. American Werewolf is a gem, a real cult movie and worthy of the plaudits bestowed upon it over the last thirty-odd years. Of course it has its detractors too, and as a younger man I dismissed those negative comments that claimed the film’s comedy and horror sat uneasily side by side. But as I’ve got older I’ve begun to sympathise a bit more, because things were a lot different back in 1981, and to many critics it must have seemed a strange brew. Not easy for the MTV or post-Scream generations to understand that point of view. My brother and I have balked at the news that studios are vying for the rights to a remake AW, but it’s really going to be difficult to crack it, in this global age, when perhaps our British cultural tics and motifs probably seem a lot less endearingly eccentric - and a lot more familiar - to foreign minds. The Anglo-American culture clash was such an important feature of Landis’s film’s success. And so was the era: Tory Britain. A demon dog running amok through Thatcher’s London. The hostile locals of a Yorkshire village concealing a sinister supernatural force. Two American lads attacked, and one ferociously murdered, on a desolate moorland. Our tragic hero David’s Jewish ethnicity giddily and breathtakingly implied in a nightmare sequence, in which he and his family are wiped out in the all-American homestead by a band of deranged Nazi werewolves. A businessman pursued and killed in an eerily deserted tube station. Credence Clearwater, reminding us not go out tonight “‘cause there’s a bad moon on the rise.� And mayhem ensuing at the finale, as the werewolf rampages through Piccadilly Circus. American Werewolf has started to creak a little around the edges and looks a little raggedy, like a well-worn paperback. The poignant commentary on the DVD extras by the film’s two likeable leads, Naughton and Dunne, reminds us that a lot of time has passed since the movie opened up to a lukewarm response back in ’81. But it isn’t difficult to see why AW has built up such a cult following, because it’s imbued with a warmth and generosity of spirit that permeates many of Landis’s other pictures. (Weird to talk about warmth being in a film of such brutality, granted). But this is an extremely likeable picture. And it’s a true original. That beautifully wry humour. The terrifying scares. This is a hybrid about a hybrid. An Anglo-American production that is parts Hammer and Universal and part Carry On. There’s even a bizarre little realist moment in a supermarket (“My pay can’t possibly afford to keep up with inflation�), as if Landis was paying a quiet homage to our realist cinematic heritage. Who knows? (Tory Britain was fertile terrain for our gritty social realism). Rick Baker. What needs to be said. Legendary stuff. Ambitious. Ingenious. And then there’s the soundtrack. The imagery is of course ultra-British in tone and very familiar to us islanders, but the soundtrack is very American. Sam Cooke, Credence Clearwater, and Bobby Vinton’s exquisite version of Blue Moon that accompanies the classy opening credits. Even the tribute to the late stuntman Jim O’Rourke impresses in its simplicity. And considering the nice touch at the end, whereby Landis and co congratulate Diana and Charles on the occasion of their wedding, it strikes me as a sincere and classy package all-round. Yes, that wedding. Charles and Diana. All those years ago. 1981.

GravesendJoe

Funny that Tom Huddleston should talk about American Werewolf being a rite-of-passage, because it was my own. One evening in 1986 (it must have been ’86) dad was working nights, and mum – rather inexplicably - allowed me and the boys to stay up and watch this film. She must have thought it was Hammer-style frolics - Oliver Reed with joke-shop fangs dressed in a torn shirt. Of course horror cinema had increased to an intensity far beyond Hammer House’s by the early 80s, when American Werewolf was filmed. The nightmares I had after watching this at six-years-old were well worth it. American Werewolf is a gem, a real cult movie and worthy of the plaudits bestowed upon it over the last thirty-odd years. Of course it has its detractors too, and as a younger man I dismissed those negative comments that claimed the film’s comedy and horror sat uneasily side by side. But as I’ve got older I’ve begun to sympathise a bit more, because things were a lot different back in 1981, and to many critics it must have seemed a strange brew. Not easy for the MTV or post-Scream generations to understand that point of view. My brother and I have balked at the news that studios are vying for the rights to a remake AW, but it’s really going to be difficult to crack it, in this global age, when perhaps our British cultural tics and motifs probably seem a lot less endearingly eccentric - and a lot more familiar - to foreign minds. The Anglo-American culture clash was such an important feature of Landis’s film’s success. And so was the era: Tory Britain. A demon dog running amok through Thatcher’s London. The hostile locals of a Yorkshire village concealing a sinister supernatural force. Two American lads attacked, and one ferociously murdered, on a desolate moorland. Our tragic hero David’s Jewish ethnicity giddily and breathtakingly implied in a nightmare sequence, in which he and his family are wiped out in the all-American homestead by a band of deranged Nazi werewolves. A businessman pursued and killed in an eerily deserted tube station. Credence Clearwater, reminding us not go out tonight “‘cause there’s a bad moon on the rise.� And mayhem ensuing at the finale, as the werewolf rampages through Piccadilly Circus. American Werewolf has started to creak a little around the edges and looks a little raggedy, like a well-worn paperback. The poignant commentary on the DVD extras by the film’s two likeable leads, Naughton and Dunne, reminds us that a lot of time has passed since the movie opened up to a lukewarm response back in ’81. But it isn’t difficult to see why AW has built up such a cult following, because it’s imbued with a warmth and generosity of spirit that permeates many of Landis’s other pictures. (Weird to talk about warmth being in a film of such brutality, granted). But this is an extremely likeable picture. And it’s a true original. That beautifully wry humour. The terrifying scares. This is a hybrid about a hybrid. An Anglo-American production that is parts Hammer and Universal and part Carry On. There’s even a bizarre little realist moment in a supermarket (“My pay can’t possibly afford to keep up with inflation�), as if Landis was paying a quiet homage to our realist cinematic heritage. Who knows? (Tory Britain was fertile terrain for our gritty social realism). Rick Baker. What needs to be said. Legendary stuff. Ambitious. Ingenious. And then there’s the soundtrack. The imagery is of course ultra-British in tone and very familiar to us islanders, but the soundtrack is very American. Sam Cooke, Credence Clearwater, and Bobby Vinton’s exquisite version of Blue Moon that accompanies the classy opening credits. Even the tribute to the late stuntman Jim O’Rourke impresses in its simplicity. And considering the nice touch at the end, whereby Landis and co congratulate Diana and Charles on the occasion of their wedding, it strikes me as a sincere and classy package all-round. Yes, that wedding. Charles and Diana. All those years ago. 1981.

christie ann

Excellent film, watched it countless times. Seemed kind of dangerous watching it when i was young. Great music, even the eerie moor music by Elmer Bernstein i loved. Good old fashioned horror..