Welcome to Laughing Vixen Lounge. Come on inside and enjoy this week's Fear Friday review. July is coming to a close and so is our Vacation Nightmares theme. All this month we have visited some very unpleasant places with some not so bright tourists. This week brings us a classic that takes us to jolly old England with a couple of backpackers that have trouble following directions! So get cozy, dim the lights and for goodness sake... stay clear the moors!!!
Every Friday at the Laughing Vixen Lounge Blog is Fear Friday. Fear Fridays are a celebration of all films spooky. Horror is a very broad genre and the Lounge loves it all. Each Friday you will find a review of a different film. These can range from Classic Horror (black and white and cheesy), Thrillers (suspense, jumps and a good mystery), outright Horror (chop chop, slash slash, die die) and anything else in between.
So pop some popcorn, kill the lights and enjoy tonight's selection. And please, share your comments on the film. Bad or good let me now what you thought of it. And now, my little ghouls and dolls, the Laughing Vixen Lounge Blog is proud to present this week's film.
July - Vacation Nightmares
Fear Friday - An American Werewolf in London
Tagline - Beware the Moon.
A masterpiece of terror.
The Monster Movie.
From the director of Animal House... a
different kind of animal.
Written and directed by John Landis (Animal House, The Blues Brothers and Thriller) and released on August 21, 1981 by Universal Pictures (rated R). David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) are on a backpacking trip around Europe. While hiking through rural England they stop at a little pub called "The Slaughtered Lamb". After upsetting the locals they are sent out into the cold wet night with one simple warning. Will the boys be able to follow this warning or will they soon find out what the locals were warning them about?
The last of our Vacation Nightmares movies brings us a classic from the Werewolf genre. The previous movies built on the fear of being at the mercy of not knowing the local language and not being able to communicate. This time our tourists, back packers from the US, are visiting a country that speaks the same language, England. So when the locals warn the boys to "Beware the moon and stick to the road." they have no excuse for not paying attention.
In no time flat David and Jack are off wandering the moors in the middle of the night with a full moon *wink* to light their way. Laughing and joking soon becames panic and fear as the sounds of something stalking them becomes louder and closer. Lost on the moors they are at the mercy of their own stupidity and the werewolf that is about to eat them!
The base of the movie is David trying to deal with the fact that he is changing into a werewolf. Visited by the many that have died during his midnight walkabouts David is told what he must do to end the madness. The visits from the dead are some of the most entertaining moments of the film. Jack in his early stages, ripped skin wobbling back and forth as he talks. Humorous and creepy at the same time. A great blend of dark humor and horror makes AAWIL a true gem. While many have followed since it really was a bit unique in it's day as there were not as many horror films that had intended humor in them. There are some truly creepy moments in the film like the late night walk through the Tube station. The movie is then so creatively offset with bouncy upbeat moon related songs that seem out of place and yet work so well! Can you hear Bad Moon Rising by Credence Clearwater Revival or Blue Moon by the Marcels and not think of this movie? Brilliant!
The effects are the other reason this movie is as loved as it is. Rick Baker did for effects with this movie what the effects people did with the Matrix. The werewolf transformation scenes were groundbreaking and helped shape the direction of movie effects. So popular they even made the Academy Awards finally add an award for Special Effects. While they may look a little outdated around the edges these effects are still impressive! I will take them any day over sub par digital effects.
In 1997 there was An American Werewolf in Paris. More boys traveling around but this time Paris. If it is on TV and you haven't seen it it can make for an OK watch. Not great but not the worse either.
You can find An American Werewolf in London available on most DVD and streaming services.
Take a look at the original trailer.
Some trivia about the movie.
1. John Landis originally wanted three other songs to add to the soundtrack: Cat Stevens wouldn't allow "Moonshadow" to be used because he had stopped allowing his secular music to be licensed for films following his conversion to Islam; Bob Dylan wouldn't allow his version of "Blue Moon" to be used in an R-rated film, as he had just begun his brief conversion to Christianity; and Elvis Presley's version of "Blue Moon" proved unavailable due to the ongoing lawsuits involving his estate.
2. The legal disclaimer in the closing credits reads, "Any resemblance to any persons living, dead, or undead is coincidental". This was also placed at the end of another John Landis project: Thriller (1983) (TV), which was reportedly inspired by this film.
3. David Naughton was reportedly cast because John Landis had seen him in a television commercial for Dr. Pepper (I remember this commercial!) He also had a top 40 hit song!! He was on a TV show in '79 called "Makin' It" and he sang the theme song (Yes, I also remember this song!!).
4. In 1997, the movie was re-recorded as a Radio drama by Audio Movies Limited for BBC Radio 1 in England. It was broadcast during Halloween that year, in short snippets throughout the day. Brian Glover, John Woodvine and Jenny Agutter reprised their roles from the movie.
5. Studio executives hoped John Landis would cast Dan Aykroyd in the role of David and John Belushi as Jack. John Landis refused.
6. John Landis came up with the film following an incident while shooting Kelly's Heroes (1970) 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 as he would not rise from the dead.
7. Director Cameo: [John Landis] appears briefly near the end of the film. He is the bearded man who gets hit by a car and thrown through the plate glass window in Piccadilly Circus.
8. When trying to call home, the telephone number that David Kessler gives the operator (516-472-3402) contains a Long Island, New York area code. It is also an unusual case where an actual phone number is used.
9. At the very end of the film, an advertisement for Universal Studios is shown along with a suggestion to "Ask for Babs". This is a reference to a "Where are they Now" item featured towards the end of Animal House (1978), another film by John Landis.
10. This is the first film to earn the Academy Award for Best Makeup. That category was created in 1981.
11. The final look of the werewolf beast was based on make-up creator Rick Baker's dog Bosko.
12. The Werewolf Howl that was used for the film, was a combination of a actual wolf and an elephant, it was also said it was played backwards by the producer 'George Folsey Jr'. in the "Beware The Moon" documentary. Director John Landis also stated on the "Beware The Moon" Documentary that the Howl was a combination of 7 or 8 different animals.
13. Frank Oz, who's know for voicing Fozzy Bear and Yoda, plays Mr. Collins of the American embassy, who attempts to console David. His voice is also heard later, during the Muppet Show.