Wednesday, October 16, 2013
31 Werewolves | An American Werewolf in London
The third werewolf movie to come out in 1981 (the others being Wolfen and The Howling) was of course An American Werewolf in London. As I mentioned yesterday, makeup artist Rick Baker was actually supposed to work on The Howling, but left that production to do American Werewolf instead. Since American Werewolf is especially well-known for Baker's effects (he even won the first ever Oscar for makeup from this movie), that was an excellent get for writer/director John Landis (Animal House, Blues Brothers).
Landis came up with the idea when he met a group of Yugoslavian gypsies while working as a production assistant on Kelly's Heroes. Watching them perform a funeral ritual that involved preventing the deceased from returning, Landis was struck by the idea of the undead and wrote the script for American Werewolf about that same time. It would be over a decade though before he had enough clout in Hollywood to get it made, and even then his backers were uncomfortable with the blend of humor and horror. It was a hit though - both critically and financially - and remains one of the most popular werewolf films of all time.
It has one sequel, 1997's An American Werewolf in Paris, but that film was made by none of the same people and featured new characters (though one is the daughter of David and Alex from the first film). It also used cheap CGI for its werewolves, so it doesn't even have good special effects in common with the original. It was a critical and popular failure.