An American Werewolf in London

Hey guys. I’m back after a hiatus for school.
I’ve never really been into werewolves before. I just never really found them interesting until I read Harry Potter, really. I immediately liked Remus Lupin. He was kind to his students and managed to be funny and was probably the best Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher that wasn’t a secret Death Eater. I always imagine how awful it was for him to wake up on November 1st, 1981. He woke up that morning and found out that two of his best friends were dead, a third was presumed dead, and the fourth was responsible for all the deaths. Yet he still managed to have a positive and kind nature, unlike my favorite character, Snape.
I love the book version of Remus Lupin and I think that David Thewlis did a good job of portraying him but, damn, that movie transformation.


This is mainly why I’m not into werewolf movies. It’s just really rare that I see a screen werewolf that’s convincingly scary. Poor Remus, he deserves better than that mangy, skinny werewolf.
Another example–I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Oz is one of my favorite characters but werewolf Oz looks like a gorilla wearing a fruit-bat mask.

That’s my main complaint with werewolf media, I rarely feel scared by them. So I was really reluctant to give the John Landis production An American Werewolf in London a chance. I’ve been burned too often by cheesy werewolves. I’m really happy that I was wrong because this ended up being a thoroughly enjoyable movie.
AmericanWerewolfDavidJack
David Naughton and Griffin Dunne play David and Jack, two college students backpacking across northern England. They seek shelter in The Slaughtered Lamb pub, a place packed full of Harbingers of Impending Doom.
AmericanWerewolfHarbinger
They get lost in the moors and are soon attacked by a large animal. Jack dies and David is hospitalized in London. David begins to have visions of a decomposing Jack telling him that he’s now a werewolf and that victims of the werewolf’s curse survive in limbo after death. The only way to lift the curse is to kill the most recent werewolf.
AmericanWerewolfDecomposingJack
These effects still look quite good, even after thirty-five years.

These effects still look quite good, even after thirty-five years.


The movie has several strengths.
It’s incredibly funny. I particularly like the scene where Jack and all of David’s victims are in the porno theater and trying to convince David to kill himself. It’s just a very funny scene in its Britishness, everyone is so damned polite except maybe the hobos.
David is a genuinely likable character. He has a a self-deprecating humor that’s nice and he seems like a genuinely nice guy, not an Urban Dictionary kind of nice guy. I’d actually say that can be applied to Remus Lupin and Oz as well. I can’t say that I’ve encountered a lot of unpleasant, gross werewolves. A movie focused on a character like Fenrir Greyback would be very different.
What makes the movie scary is seeing someone who’s genuinely good become a monster and the absolute horror of the transformation. Rick Baker, whose work we’ve seen in The Funhouse, It’s Alive, and Squirm, just really outdoes himself with David’s transformation.
AmericanWerewolfTransformation
AmericanWerewolfTransformation2
The final result is scarier than I expected, it actually looks like a beast that could be dangerous.
AmericanWerewolfWolf
For a movie that’s thirty-five years old, there’s quite a lot of male nudity. I’m not complaining at all. It’s weird how imbalanced it’s become all these years later, I’m speaking about the media in general. It’s very strange watching older movies that portray men and women healthily enjoying sex when the subject is so fraught and dysfunctional nowadays.
More specifically, the wolfman is inherently sexual since it’s a human struggling with his animal nature but portrayals over the last decade have become somewhat sexless. I haven’t read the Twilight series but I’m aware of Jacob, the Native American werewolf (Because stereotypes are fun!), imprinting on Renesmee when she’s an infant. This sort of bonding for life must seem ideal for a Mormon housewife. Remus Lupin spends most of his life terrified of infecting someone, lives a solitary life, and is horrified when he finds out what he did at the end of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. He only pairs off reluctantly, never seems happy with Tonks, and spends a good part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows worrying whether his child will inherit his lycanthropy. Of the werewolves I’ve mentioned, Oz is the most sexual. He ends up leaving his girlfriend, Willow, after cheating on Willow with fellow werewolf, Veruca. After returning to Sunnydale when he’s learned to control his lycanthropy, he reverts to his wolf state when he smells Tara on Willow and realizes that Willow has had a sexual relationship with someone else. David as a werewolf is the sympathetic werewolf of modern times but he’s not the neutered werewolf of recent times.
If you’re looking for some fun and you happen to be in New York City, there is a pub based on The Slaughtered Lamb.
The pub in the movie.

The pub in the movie.


I spent a recent birthday at the Slaughtered Lamb pub on 4th St. and it was a load of fun. There’s a rotating werewolf on display and the drinks are good. My photos like my memory of that night are kind of a mess so here’s a picture of one of my birthday presents from that night and a werewolf foot.
Doll

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About scarina

I like scary movies a little too much. I thought I'd share my obsession with you.
This entry was posted in 1980's, body horror, famous movie monsters, monsters, things involving me, werewolves and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to An American Werewolf in London

  1. crazycanuck says:

    Hope you kept clear of the moors, after the pub! Kinda surprised you hadn’t seen this one before; check out The Howling as well(also 1981). This is the kind of movie ,if I catch part way through, I will watch to the end. Remember the Alamo, loved that scene too, ” I never miss!” .

    • scarina says:

      Maybe the NYC moors equivalent would be Central Park.
      I’m as surprised as you are. That’s part of why I started this blog, just so I’d have a reason to catch up on movies I’ve missed. 1981 was a good year for werewolves.
      That whole pub was just delightful.

      • crazycanuck says:

        Oh yeah, how could I forget the classic “a naked American man just stole my balloons!”

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