Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Lycanthropy 101 - Day 27

I know, technically, it's day 28....but I watched this movie yesterday so .... there.
The Howling only made me want MORE! MORE! werewolves, so I decided to revisit American Werewolf in London.

Wow. What a great film. I always have a special place in my black heart for this movie, but after watching it again, I'd have to say it would probably end up on my top 10 of all time.

I'm sure that I can't say much about this film that hasn't already been said. It's scary, it's funny, it has characters that we care about, it looks freaking awesome after all these years, and even though it's a story we're all familiar with (the wolfman) we're still on the edge of our seats wondering how it will all play out.

One other thing that is pretty amazing about this is how well the transformation scene holds up. I remember back when this came out how much attention that scene received (deservedly so) and how ground breaking it was. Rick Baker won the first Oscar for makeup FX that year. Even though I've seen this movie and THAT particular scene more times than I can count, I found myself watching intently and wondering again, how did they do that? I don't know that the best CGI werewolf transformation could compete with this one. David Naughton's performance and Rick Baker's effects make for a werewolf transformation that is at the same time painful to watch and impossible to pull your eyes away from. We believe that he really is turning into a werewolf (after all, it's happening to the actor right in front of our eyes) and dammit, it's scary and it really HURTS.

Which is another reason this movie works so well. We feel so much for this handsome, nice, young man who just wanted to backpack across Europe - his best friend has just been brutally murdered in front of his eyes- he doesn't quite recall what happened, but what he does remember, nobody believes. He's got a KILLER case of PTTSD, he's in a foreign country, he's become the total opposite of what he is -a brutal killer- completely against his will and beyond his control. Oh yeah and his best friend keeps visiting him from beyond the grave and encouraging him to kill himself- because once the werewolf cycle ends, he and the rest of the werewolf's victims can be at peace.
Did I mention that even with all of that going on, the movie still manages to be funny? I think we need all that humor to break the tension and help us to forget how freaking sad this whole situation is. Because, after all, it's still a wolfman movie, and we kinda think we know where this might be going.

But-in the very small case that you haven't seen this- I'll stop here. And if you have seen it and maybe it's been a while.......take some time and revisit your old friends. And then flip out when you turn the box over and realize this movie is now 27 YEARS OLD.
Yeah. 1981, my loves. Crazy.
Mother Firefly

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