News Column

'American Werewolf' to take a bite out of Stockton

October 18, 2013


Oct. 18--In Florida, "An American Werewolf in London" is coming to life as a Halloween Horror Nights maze at Universal Studios Orlando. Puppets and actors will recreate the movie, right down to the sound of the howling and Elmer Bernstein's score, as fans walk through and experience it.

In Stockton the film lives on when Friends of the Fox screens it as part of its classic cinema series today at 7 p.m. at the Bob Hope Theatre. Doors open at 6 p.m. with an organ concert at 6:30 p.m.

Written and directed by John Landis, "An American Werewolf in London" is a mix of black comedy and horror.

When the film premiered, it was billed as being from the director of "Animal House," and some in the audience, expecting a comedy, ran in fear at the horror.

Landis got the idea for "An American Werewolf in London" when he was working in Yugoslavia on the set of "Kelly's Heroes" and witnessed a gypsy funeral in which the body was being buried in a massively deep grave, feet first, while wrapped in garlic, so he would not rise from the dead.

His film is about two Americans backpacking in England who are attacked by a werewolf. One is killed and the other injured, but both live on in some form, forever scarred by their encounter.

The film drew mixed, but mostly positive reviews. Critics appreciated the blend of humor and horror, with one writing, "Not just gory but actually frightening, not just funny but clever."

Landis, who worked on the film's transfer to high definition in the mid-2000s said he was taken aback by how gory the film actually was.

What was most remarkable about the film when it was released in 1981, though, was the work of Rick Baker on special effects makeup. So impressed was the film industry by Baker's ability to transform Dunne into a werewolf that it created an Academy Award for best achievement in makeup and presented the first one to Baker.


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