Tuesday, 11 May 2010

American Werewolf in London (1981)

American Werewolf in London (1981): Probably John Landis’ crowning moment, this scared me stupid when I first saw it.

Groundbreaking at the time for it’s prosthetic effects (Rick Baker won the first makeup effects Oscar for his work here), it features one of the best transformation sequences ever put to film.

Where it works most effectively is in the early Yorkshire village sequences, then onto the cynical outsider’s eye of a (then) rather run-down London, replete with punks, tatty porn theatres and prissy policemen.

If it loses points for the closing act - a rather flat hunt for the monster - it scores highly for a stunning dream-within-dream sequence (featuring horrifying Nazi werewolves) and a genius mix of horror and uneasy laughs.

And it is very funny in places, especially Griffin Dunne’s turn as the protagonist’s increasingly decomposed ghost-buddy. Check out the remarkable, grusome face wound when he first shows up in the hospital, taunting his cursed friend - the way his tattered throat flaps about as he speaks… ick.

Anyone finding themselves alone on Tottenham Court tube station at night (it’s still possible) might want to forget the still-scary sequence featuring that station.

So, why am I mentioning it now? Because it’s yet another classic movie greenlit for a remake. Leave it alone, dammit! It’s just fine as it is.

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