HALLOW-MOONEY 2012: An American Werewolf in London (1981) – John Landis

Posted: October 9, 2012 in American, British, Comedy, Halloween, Horror, Thriller
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An American Werewolf in London (2012) – John Landis (Dir.), David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Joe Belcher

Or: Two Idiots Who Look The Same Get Their Shit Wrecked in the UK

Thus it begins. Much like the leaves of Autumn, the decor of numerous commercial ventures begins decaying from vibrant pastels to orange, only holding off the onslaught of greens, reds, silvers and obligatory shining crap that follows the start of the holiday season. Yes, it is October so America has decided to stuff its children to the brim with candy in the hopes that their non-stop hyperactivity will drive parents to purchase every goddamn Transformers toy Mattel has to offer over the next few months. Halloween or, All Hallows Eve, if you’re pretentious, is upon us. In the tradition of most movie sites, I’ve decided to dip my dick into the diseased depths of the ‘Horror’ genre. If you are a reader of this site, you know that I’ve compiled a list of classic/specifically non-classic horror films that have mildly tickled my fancy over the past few years. I gave my fate to my readers and allowed you to decide, you slobbering, illiterate mutts of such basal taste delightful patrons of my site. Well, the votes are in for the first viewing and with a landslide of 9…that’s right NINE WHOLE VOTES was John Landis’ borderline insane An American Werewolf in London.

Alright, alright, I’m telling a few porky pies here. I’d already seen half of the movie previous to the vote and, due to various circumstances (I have no idea what…probably alcohol and or ninja-related infestations – probably alcohol) I never got past the midpoint. This is certainly a classic of the supernatural lexicon for a number of reasons. Perhaps the most exciting and ball-tingling of all is the director. At the helm is the insatiably wonderful and would-ask-him-to-be-my-dad-if-my-dad-wasn’t-already-a-badass-and-looks-like-Omar-Sharif-also-several-legal-hang-ups John “I Made the Blues Brothers So Shut the Fuck Up” Landis. That man is a living legend (he’s still alive right? If not, just regular legend shall suffice). If you haven’t already seen BB (yes I shorten the title because I am a dick) slap yourself. Then watch it. If you can’t, slap yourself again. It is a family rule that The Blues Brothers must never be more than five minutes away in any direction. I have a copy of the DVD stapled to my scrotum (true story. It makes sex confusing at first. But only at first.) He is a comedic director of the toppest of shelves, the highest of brows, the bee-est of the knees. And so, one can imagine, his first ever ‘scary’ directorial effort is one to be questioned…

Holy shit. This movie is fucking ridiculous.

MUST…MOISTURIZE…IMMEDIATELY…

Let’s start at the beginning. We have two dumb Americans who look exactly the same and love penises in women (preferably their own, but they’re openminded). Both of these home-grown fucking Einsteins decide that before heading to Italy for some world famous Poon (TM) (perhaps tossed with a rich vodka sauce, a side of fresh mozzarella and just a hint soccer clubs stealing English players) they go for a walk through the moors. Now, to those of you who aren’t British, walking through the moors in England in the spring at night is akin to going white water rafting with Burt Reynolds through butt-fuck country. They show up in a tavern and all the locals start acting weird, or British, whichever you choose. Well, they wander back out into the realm of lycanthrope Buttrapington, lose the road and then get their shit wrecked by a werewolf. Huzzah! The survivor, David, is transferred to London where he heals and fucks a nurse. Man, the NHS really does come through. Universal Healthcare, guys…a binding for every wound, and a British nurse for every peen. Anyhoo, Jack returns a few grievous wounds short of a face as an undead vision to warn David that he’s now a creature of the night. After that, well, what happens is anyone’s guess.

“I said I wanted my best friend MEDIUM RARE. This is unacceptable. TAKE IT BACK.” ~ The pickiest werewolf.

Perhaps what’s most enjoyable about this little ditty is that one can never be sure if Mr. Landis is entirely convinced that the horror genre isn’t just a little bit silly. His soundtrack is mottled with upbeat ballads concerning various lunar movements (a crooning Blue Moon bookends the film), the dialogue is cheesy as a Packer fan’s bowels after gameday and the thing just sort of…well…ends. I kept thinking, “Oh! How are they going to get out of this pickle!” Well, they don’t. Everyone just sort of gets fucked. They are decidedly stuck within the pickle…and then the credits roll. Huh. Shockingly, however, the injection of intentional humor suddenly tears away the option for any jeering and jibing in which a viewer might engage. By poking fun at himself, Landis completely disarms assholes like me from doing it for him. It’s like a nerd, playing D&D whilst wearing his tin foil hat in the lunch room, yelling about challenges to Paladin faith and tossing about excessively-sided dice, seeing a horde of bullies coming his way and decides to give himself a wedgie. The bullies stand there, stunned, unsure of how to proceed. I mean, you can’t wedgie him more. He’s already so damn pitiful that you can’t help yourself but chuckle with hidden anxiety and wander off. And that nerd, he continues with his game, his undies hiked WAY too high and a champion in his own right. In this movie, when the special effects get dumb, you giggle…but then you think “Wait…Landis wants me to giggle!” and you sink into your seat, mouth agape, because the Landis has buried himself into you psyche. You cannot escape the Landis.

The wit is my favorite aspect of this thing. Story-wise it’s about as dense as a Stephanie Meyer book (OH! TWILIGHT BURN!). However, through comedy, you immediately enjoy his characters. Granted, when they get their entrails dragged about like the strings of a retarded puppet, you giggle with glee…but you still want them around. Not once is the thing boring. it’s 87 minutes of pure, uncut, Columbian goof. And nothing else. Whilst in the throes of his transformation, David undergoes numerous titter-tastic visions, the most brilliant of which involves his family being gunned down by inexplicably nazi-uniformed wolf-troopers. What the fuck? Also, Jack keeps the banter light along with the rest of the poor bastards David kills after his first foray into lycanthropy. That is probably the most surreal and brilliant scene I have witnessed in years. With the backdrop of a porno that seems to have been written by Harold Pinter’s learning-disabled brother, David’s blood-drenched victims attempt to convince him of suicide, the best of which being an engaged couple cheerily encouraging him to suck on a car exhaust pipe. As an audience member you sit back and ask “What the blue-assed-titty-balled fuck is going on?”

And then a dude gets his head bitten the fuck off. And it is amazing.

Side note: I assumed for the length of the feature that the wolves could only be killed by silver/belladonna or whatever so I didn’t understand why David was the ‘last of the bloodline’. It wasn’t until I awkwardly yelled “OH. It’s because the werewolf who bit him got shot at the beginning and THAT was the naked dead dude!” that it all became clear. The statement was awkward. The fact that I was in the middle of making out with my ladyfriend is where the awkward part comes in. She demanded, “Why are you thinking about werewolves while we’re making out?” To which I, quite rightly, replied, “WE JUST FUCKING WATCHED A MOVIE ABOUT WEREWOLVES. WHAT DO YOU EXPECT? I AM A BOY.” Shockingly, this was the exonerating argument that eeked me out of that turd-based maelstrom.

I didn’t know Andre the Giant was in this!

This movie is a conundrum of sorts. In ways, it’s a thumb-bitten tongue-in-cheek send-up of a  filmic breed prevalent decades before. Landis is keenly aware of his predecessors, repeatedly doing service to the Lon Chaney classics of old. In others it’s an homage, both borrowing and building upon time-tested tropes and groan-worthy cliches. Hilariously, it’s become revered itself, allowing others to parody its parody, reference its references. And so, the snake continues eating its tale on and on, both consuming and spitting out the same brilliant and terrible crap over and over, turning itself inside out so many goddamn times, you’re not even surprised when Leo DiCaprio and Joe Levitt appear in suits screaming “WE HAVE TO GO DEEPER”; but deeper into what, how, where and why do they keep propagating the same banal bullshit and reducing a beloved medium to a Sisyphean crapfest of recycled mental fecal matter, a repeated rehashing of refuse, a muddled mess more exhausted than a stripper’s ass after ‘Charlie Sheen Month’ at the MGM Grand? Why can’t we pull our thumbs out of the incestuous asses of self-reflexivity and create something new? Something shocking? Something great?

Speaking of asses, I guess The Human Centipede is still on the list. *Shudder*.

Tune in this weekend for the next installment of my Spook-Tastic Halloow-Mooney Watch-a-Thon (TM) where I will watch the movie with the second most votes. Keep on voting, dear readers (and do it from different devices because I accidentally allowed it to inhibit repeat voting by way of cookies. Oops. Also, ‘Internet cookies’ sound, in equal parts, intriguing and fucking terrifying). Voting closes the morning of Friday October 12th.

Also, don’t forget to vote in real life because…I guess it’s important. Or something.

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Comments
  1. “…walking through the moors in England in the spring at night is akin to going white water rafting with Burt Reynolds through butt-fuck country.”

    That made me laugh for a solid three minutes. I had to turn away, stop reading and wait for the giggles to subside.

    Then, this: “…you’re not even surprised when Leo DiCaprio and Joe Levitt appear in suits screaming “WE HAVE TO GO DEEPER”…” made me start all over again. You have an uncanny way with words, sir.

    I watched this flick as a child (I’ve loved the horror genre since graduating from infancy – not sure what that says about me) and loved every cheesy minute of it. As an adult, its appeal is mostly based in nostalgia.

    I think it’s damned near impossible to make a scary movie without cheese. Werewolves, vampires, ghosts and the like aren’t real, which means you have to walk into it willing to suspend your knowledge of certain universal truths. That said, there are more believable, more artistic ways of going about it. (“28 Days Later” is a fine example of a horror movie with substance. Have you seen that?)

    I think the ridiculousness is part of the fun. Though, nothing’s better than the thrill of being genuinely scared.

    (Jesus, I didn’t mean to write a fucking book here. My apologies.) As always, excellent review.
    ~Nikki

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