An American Werewolf in London VHS
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A great classic werewolf movie.
Remember back in the early 1980s when special-effects makeup artists were tripping over themselves to create the next big effect? The Howling boasted a fantastic werewolf transformation scene courtesy of makeup wizard Rob Bottin. Then along came Bottin's mentor, Rick Baker, with his own spectacular effects in this popular horror comedy directed by John Landis. An American Werewolf in London is more of a makeup showcase than a truly satisfying movie, but the film is effectively moody when David Naughton discovers that a wolf attack has turned him into a bloodthirsty lycanthrope. Jenny Agutter plays his love interest (watch out, he bites!), and who can forget Griffin Dunne as Naughton's best friend, an undead corpse who progressively rots away as the plot unfolds? All things considered, it's easy to see why An American Werewolf in London became a modern horror favorite. --Jeff Shannon
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Want some laughs? It's got those too!
John Landis and company have delivered one of the most profound, and cinematically awestruck Horror/Werewolf films in history.
One of the many reasons why this film works so well is the dramatic shift and scale from the harmless life of American David, to the horrific and screaming world of the supernatural lycanthrope/werewolf.
Not only are the visual effects there, but the undertones present in the time, and the back-narrative on the film's uses of said Special FX. For instance, with the dream sequence, Ms. Piggy and Kermit make a point that puppets are quite a powerful tool to the screen, because while it can look quirky, it will always function the best and look the most realistic. This is a tone and context that may not have been so impacting then, but with today's technology makes for a great punchline for Stop Motion Animations, Animatronics and Puppeted nightmares being the better of all CGI and so forth.
The narrative can feel quirky and odd at times, but the payoff is great for a horror fan who wants to see a monster go ballistic and berserk. While there are times where the sexual undertone comes a bit too far out the movie's pants/skirt, it has a humorous level that allows the viewer to both laugh and cringe at it (particularly the theatre/peep show scene near the end; it is moronic and ironically funny/scary).
If you have not seen this film, watch it: you may get a few jump scares, keep in mind, but the payoff for the film leaves you simply and plainly awestruck with the amazing look of this American Werewolf in London.
That said, this is a classic horror movie and was well made for its time. In our age of CGI and digital effects, it's very easy to dismiss older films as being "hokey" or "unrealistic," but there is also something visceral to them. American Werewolf in London is one of those films that has enough corny sensibility that it doesn't take itself too seriously while at the same time portraying some good horror tropes in emotionally evocative ways. You can watch this one for just good, classic, horror fun or you can pay a little more attention and see the personal horror of the main character, David, as he is confronted with the reality of being a monster. The first transformation scene is one of my all time favorites in werewolf cinema, as it is sudden, confusing, and ultimately horrifying for the character himself, even if modern audiences might get a chuckle or two out of the effects. The makeup and costuming are actually quite well crafted and it's worth noting while you watch that absolutely none of this was done with computers. What you see is painstaking time and attention spent on creating an illusion with actual, material, costuming and make up effects.
This is definitely a film worth keeping in your collection if you like horror. Maybe best avoided if you're not keen on blood and gore.
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