HorrorFest: An American Werewolf In London (1981)

All the spoilers all the time.  You have been warned!

My Thoughts While Watching:

This one is my all time favorite movie. The special effects hold up so well.  The movie itself holds up so well.   A couple of things I have issues with: I think that the nurse was batshit. Here is this guy, telling you repeatedly that he sees dead people AND that he is a werewolf and you still take him home?  AND sleep with him??

The transition from human to werewolf is just amazing.  The actual werewolf is splendid.  Amazing movie.

Stay on the road.

Keep clear of the moors.

Beware of the moon, lads.

This WHOLE movie is Jack’s fault. He had to push the patrons of the bar and ask about the pentagram on the wall.  Had you just minded your own damn business and drank your hot tea none of this would have happened….

However, I love waiting for the moment when their feet leave the road.  You KNOW ish is about to get real.

There is a scene where they are on the metro and the punks are crowded around them, a guy with leopard print hair.  When I visited London a few years later I saw similar.  I am mad (in retrospect) that I did not pay the guy to be able to take his picture.

Commercial hilarity – on the TV while David is trying to kill time (and not people) there is a commercial that says “The Naked Truth About Naughty Nina.”

Great quotes:

I didn’t mean to call you a  meatloaf Jack!

A naked American man stole my balloons!

Carnivorous lunar activities

The film See You Next Wednesday, playing in the porno theater has it’s own credits.

And now, if you will excuse me, I am going to go iMDB Gypsy Dave Cooper…

Some Interviews and Extra Video:

IMDB Synopsis: Two American college students on a walking tour of Britain are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists.

Starring:

Lead Actor: David Naughton

Lead Actress:  Jenny Agutter

Supporting Male: Griffin Dunne

Director: John Landis

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My ranking scores –

0-19 Levels of: Ugh

20-39 Levels of: Meh (aka I cannot reach the remote)

40-59 Levels of: I don’t hate it?

60-85 Levels of: That was solid.

86-100 Levels of: I Loved It!

I rank this movie a 99.78!

*******************************************************************

Trailer:

Additional Movie Info:

It received a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 88% Fresh.  It received a Rotten Tomato audience rating of 85% liking it.  Average Rating: 3.4/5 with a number of User Ratings: 115,334.

Movie Reviews:

Specs:  Release date: 21 Aug 1981 (USA) / Runtime: 97 minutes / Budget: $10M

IMDB Trivia:

  • This is the first film to earn the Academy Award for Best Make-up. That category was created in 1981.
  • David Naughton revealed that the hospital bed in the forest scene was the most difficult and painful because of the glass contact lenses used.
  • During a preview of the film the marquee said, “From the Director of Animal House (1978).” Because of this, many people in the audience thought they were seeing a comedy. Reportedly, people ran out of the theater when they discovered it was a horror film, because they were frightened.
  • All the songs in this film have the word “moon” in their titles.
  • John Landis wrote the screenplay for this film following an incident while shooting Kelly’s Heroes (1970) (while he was a go-fer) in the countryside of Yugoslavia. While driving along a country road with a colleague, Landis encountered a gypsy funeral. The body was being buried in a massively deep grave, feet first, while wrapped in garlic, so he would not rise from the dead.
  • Unlike most motion pictures, it was filmed in sequence.
  • John Landis had to avoid filming any full-frontal nudity of David Naughton during the transformation scene and dream sequences after Naughton informed Landis that he was not circumcised, even though his role, David Kessler, was written as being Jewish.
  • PolyGram Executives Jon Peters and Peter Guber, hoped John Landis would cast Dan Aykroyd in the role of David and John Belushi as Jack. John Landis refused, as he wanted to use new faces, and because Belushi and Aykroyd were too busy working on Neighbors (1981), which they wanted Landis to direct.
  • They got the cat on the window ledge to hiss at David by holding up another cat towards its face.
  • Because of this film, make-up and industry technological contributions became recognized by the Academy Awards in 1981. Make-up Artist Rick Baker was the first to receive an Oscar in the new category. William Tuttle was the first Make-up Effects Artist to receive an honorary Oscar for his work on 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964).
  • Michael Jackson was so bowled over by this movie, most especially by the the make-up and visual effects, he insisted on hiring the responsible personnel for his planned music video Michael Jackson: Thriller (1983). When John Landis agreed to direct (his first music video), he brought on board his foremost “werewolf” crew, including Robert Paynter (Cjinematography), Elmer Bernstein (“creepy” music), Rick Baker (Special Make-up Effects), and his wife Deborah Nadoolman (Costume Design).
  • The fake porno movie “See You Next Wednesday” was the first thing to be filmed during production.
  • Rick Baker plays one of the Nazi werewolves in the nightmare sequence (specifically the one who slashes David’s throat).
  • At the close of the credits is a congratulatory message for the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. It was included, because when David is trying to get arrested, he shouts, “Prince Charles is a faggot!” The film was shot several months before the preparations for the couple’s July 1981 wedding.
  • The episode of The Muppet Show (1976) playing on the television during David’s nightmare sequence is The Muppet Show: Señor Wences (1980), but the portion shown, was never shown in the U.S. This is why Americans often assumed it to be a fake episode, and why Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog are credited.
  • The title of the movie “See You Next Wednesday” is a trademark of John Landis’ work. First encountered by him as dialogue in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), he created a fictional movie and included posters for it as early as 1973 (then later in Trading Places (1983) and Coming to America (1988)), billboards (The Blues Brothers (1980)), cinemas screening it (The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977); this film; Michael Jackson: Thriller (1983)) and also as dialogue and other kinds of props and set dressing.
  • Frank Oz technically appears as two characters in the movie. Mr. Collins, the man who talks to David in the hospital, and the voice of Miss Piggy in the The Muppet Show: Señor Wences (1980) clip.
  • In order to get the movie down to an R-rating, Landis had to tone down the sex scene and cut out a part where a piece of toast fell out of Jack’s undead throat. He also edited out a scene where the werewolf kills the three homeless men after preview audiences freaked out. He later had regrets about the edits.

7 comments

  1. I always liked the older horror movies it had more suspense than Gore. I’m also considered writing a spoof story where the main character turns into the dog man under the full moon but instead of attacking people like the werewolf he does normal dog stuff.

    1. That would be amazing! I would read it! The horror genre was one that my Ma loved. We went to a number of movies that were probably not suitable for a kid of my age (at that time). Loved them all. We would also watch the old black and white movies you could find on TBS after 11PM on Saturdays.

      1. There are graphics programs out there that could take a photograph and make it into a graphic-novel style picture. I am not sure how difficult it would be to learn the program.

        A podcast sounds awesome! Please let me know if/when you do it!!

        My Daughter is a professional photographer and adjunct professor of art. For years she kept stating she could not draw. While in college she took a class and some of her sketches were just breath taking. She now rough sketches her thoughts for a photograph to work out the concept before shooting it.

      2. Thank you 😊 I would have to have models, sets etc. I could do it with scale models but that’s still a time and material investment that’s a bit out of reach for now. If I am able to do a podcast I could do a feature image with each segment of the story. It’s going to take time.

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