A is for An American Werewolf in London

Inspired by the poster featured in my previous blog post, I am reviewing the 26 movies depicted; some I have seen before, some not. Surprisingly, this is one that I have not seen, or if I did, it was so long ago that I don’t remember it.

photo credit: samraw08 on deviantart.com

photo credit: samraw08 on deviantart.com

Werewolf movies–and the terrible man to wolf transformations therein–have existed for almost as long as the movie industry itself. Probably the coolest transformation n recent memory is the one that takes place in the Netflix series Hemlock Grove:

What I like about the Hemlock Grove version is the same thing I like about the American Werewolf version, which is that it looks real. Not real, as in reality versus fantasy, but real in a physical sense. With skin tearing away and pain and body parts twisting and changing. It’s not pretty but it makes you feel like it can be explained by science, not magic. Unlike this terrible, “he’s a boy, now he’s a wolf” version from Twilight: New Moon:

Ugh, sorry I made you watch that. If you didn’t, smart move.

While special effects have come a long way since 1981, the transformation in An American Werewolf in London still ranks among the best:

Part of the appeal of the werewolf as a monster is that it can be morally complex. If you kill the monster, you kill the man. In An American Werewolf in London, there is an incentive for the man to take that burden from others and take his own life, in the form of the main character’s best friend, who happens to be dead for most of the movie.

This movie was released in 1981, so I am assuming the time for *Spoiler Alert* has passed but just in case, “Spoiler Alert!”

David Naughton and Griffin Dunne play David and Jack, two American teenagers who are backpacking across Europe, because that’s what all teenagers did after high school in the ’80’s. They start out in Northern England because they like the cold and rain (I can only assume.) They are dropped off in the middle of nowhere on a lonely road and come across a pub called The Slaughtered Lamb. They seemed a bit horrified by the name but I was more upset that they didn’t actually serve lamb…or any food. “Spirits and Beer,” according to the barkeep, although she did begrudgingly offer to make some tea.

The boys immediately suspected something was not quite right when they saw a pentagram drawn on the wall with two lit sconces on either side, and when they finally asked about it (after whispering frantically back and forth like siblings, “you ask!”, “no, you ask!”) the room got deathly quiet and they decided to leave. The barkeep begged the others in the pub not to let them go as it was too dangerous, but the locals seemed more concerned with keeping their secret safe than keeping the American strangers safe.

Ultimately, they did go after the boys, but it was too late. Jack had been viciously mauled to death, and David had suffered scratches across his face. David passed out from his injuries, but not before witnessing the townspeople gun down the wolf–which turned back into a man upon its death.

He woke up three weeks later in a London hospital, where he was told that he and his friend had been attacked by a man and saved by the people of the town, who brought him to the hospital after dressing his wounds. Although he protested that it was a wild animal, the doctor said he had no reason to dispute the policemen’s statements, especially not on the basis of what sounded like a crazy werewolf story.

Before long, David starts seeing crazy visions and having lunatic dreams. HIs primary vision is that of his dead friend, Jack, who looked as he had post-werewolf attack, with his face and body scratched and mauled. He told David that people killed by werewolves were left in limbo as long as the bloodline remained alive, and now, David was the last of that bloodline. In order to give Jack peace and to save David’s potential victims, he insisted that David must kill himself before the full moon in a few days.

David very quickly develops a relationship with his pretty nurse and stays with her while recuperating before going home to New York. During this time, he continues to see visions and be plagued by nightmares until the inevitable occurs. In a classic film scenario, he has no memory of his change or what he does, but he awakens, naked and bloody, having killed several people, who join Jack in requesting that David free them from limbo.

The movie ends in a climatic scene in the middle of the city with David as a werewolf being chased through the streets as cars and buses crashed around him until he runs down a dead end alley, where the local policeman do what he couldn’t and saved David from his life of torment and all the undead from their limbo.

While the plot had a couple of stereotypical tropes and the whirlwind romance was less believable than the existence of werewolves, this was a fun movie. Although Shaun of the Dead is remembered as being one of the first films that was equal part comedy and horror, An American Werewolf in London beat it by more than 20 years and is just as good. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. It’s streaming free on Amazon Prime right now, so it’s a great time to watch!

comic courtesy http://warehousecomic.com/

comic courtesy http://warehousecomic.com/


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photo: http://www.stephenwildish.co.uk/

photo credit: http://www.stephenwildish.co.uk/

I recently came across this cool poster designed by Stephen Wildish (he has a bunch in different genres.) It’s part of a UK only iOS game which prompts you to guess which movie is being referenced by each letter. For the answers, keep an eye on this blog as I review each one. Can you identify them all?

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Paranormal Activity 4

My fellow child of the eighties Drew Barrymore once said, “I never regret anything. Because every little detail of your life is what made you into who you are in the end.” I tend to agree with that. It is hard to have regrets in a world where mistakes teach valuable lessons, I live with my soulmate and our cuddly cat, and we all have lessons from movies such as “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “The Butterfly Effect”…and “The Butterfly Effect 2″…and “The Butterfly Effect 3″… (Some people never learn…and I don’t mean the characters in the Butterfly Effect movies, I mean the girl watching the characters in the Butterfly Effect movies.)  Which brings me to the point of this article…knowing when to jump ship before a series sinks.

Poster courtesy Mondo

Paranormal Activity-> Grab your life preservers, it’s time to go. Paranomal Activity 4 is the first sequel to move forward in time from the original movie but far from lived up to the promise of the series. (See my review of 3 for a synopsis of the first 3 films.)         Continue reading

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Here Comes Halloween! Here Comes Halloween!

Hello, Boys and Ghouls! (I’m working on channeling my inner Crypt Keeper.)  One of the best times of year for horror lovers is approaching so to prepare, I’ve put together a calendar of suggested viewing for each day of Frightober! Uh, Octobrrrrr! Uh, Halloctober? Call it what you like; just don’t let it slip away without opening the door to a little fear…I’ve included cable TV channels but many of these are also streaming on Netflix. So turn out the lights, snuggle up to your sweetie or dog or cat or pillow pet or glass of wine and enjoy! Continue reading

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The first time I saw Dolls was soon after its release in 1988. When I created this comic, I used my vague memory of this movie as inspiration, although the Child’s Play and Puppetmaster movie franchises, introduced soon after Dolls, were more long-lived in pop cultural memory.

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Scary Christmas–The Best (and Worst) of Holiday Horror

These are some of my favorite Christmas-time horror movies, in no particular order, and they include some that are good because they’re good and some that are good because they’re so very not. Enjoy and please share your favorites in the comments!

Gremlins is a modern (not so modern now, I guess) classic. It is a rare child from the ’80’s that cannot recite the three rules for Mogwai. 1. Don’t get them wet. 2. Keep them out of bright lights, especially sunlight. and the most important 3. Don’t feed after midnight.

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Wikipedia begins its definition of “urban legend” with:

An urban legend, urban myth, urban tale, or contemporary legend, is a form of modern folklore consisting of stories usually believed by their tellers to be true. As with all folklore and mythology, the designation suggests nothing about the story’s veracity, but merely that it is in circulation, exhibits variation over time, and carries some significance that motivates the community in preserving and propagating it.

In the case of the mothman stories of Point Pleasant, WV, a small town on the Ohio River, the final sentence in that paragraph seems to be the primary fuel that keeps the legend alive, a “significance that motivates the community in preserving and propagating it.” That motivation seems to be primarily a financial one. Although the first newspaper accounts of the “mothman” occurred in 1966 and the book “The Mothman Prophecies” was written in 1975, the town remained on the verge of becoming a ghost town until 2002, when the 1975 book was released as a major motion picture starring Richard Gere and the town took advantage of this national attention through a new, now annual, tradition of a “Mothman Festival” and merchandising based on the legend. Continue reading

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Paranormal Activity 3

I never knew my great-aunt Sid as an adult, but I think I would have liked her. As a child, she was one of my favorite adult relatives. Possibly in part because she wasn’t much taller than I was, even though I was (and am) shorter than average. But I also remember her as being generous, warm and not only possessing a great sense of humor but also funny.
She was also the first person I knew who firmly believed in ghosts. She is responsible for telling me the first ghost story that “really happened.” Continue reading

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The Burning

Although I had never previously heard of The Burning, it was recommended by a horror movie podcast (40 Oz. of Horror–a title more clever than the podcast turned out to be) and a completely unrelated blog (hellogiggles.com–which is a more interesting and diverse blog than the name would indicate) within the same week. As of this writing, it is also available on Netflix streaming so it was an easy decision to give it a shot.

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Resident Evil

An open letter to the person that “found” my (knock-off) Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses in the ladies’ room at the 40 Watt Club Saturday night, 10/15/2011

There’s really no more delicate way to say this, Person that “found” my (knock-off) Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses in the ladies’ room at the 40 Watt Club Saturday night, 10/15/2011, but you have pee glasses. It was not an accident that they landed in the otherwise empty trash can. They had fallen off my person straight into the toilet bowl where I retrieved them with the tips of my first finger and thumb and deposited promptly into the plastic waste bin. Continue reading

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