Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dude Movies: An American Werewolf In London

What's it about?
Dumb-ass American backpackers fail to heed the advice of drunken British farmfolk only to end up as lycanthrope kibble.

Any chicks in the movie?
Not just any, but Dude Movie goddess Jenny "Logan's Run" Agutter, who here performs a rare Dude Movie hat trick: She's great in the movie, she's hot, and she gets really, really naked. Honestly, that's way more than you deserve.

Awesomeness factor?
Seminal. The career of John Landis has a pretty severe drop-off point* but you can't fault the man's early career. The Kentucky Fried Movie, Animal House, The Blues Brothers - his late 70s / early 80s run reads like a primer for Dude Movies 101**. But Landis' peak is inarguably An American Werewolf In London, a movie so painfully wicked that it made a generation of dudes wonder why Griffin Dunne was never a major star. *** The plot has the grim inevitability of a classic EC comic, but this isn't a movie about plot so much as an excuse to enjoy the gleefully psychotic details Landis pencils in, like how Dunne keeps decomposing throughout the movie or the clever use of moon-themed pop songs. But the true star of this monsteriffic movie is Rick Baker, makeup artist of the gods. The on-screen transformation of David Naughton into a werewolf (set to Sam Cooke's "Blue Moon", for maximum juxtaposed weirdness) blew our collective geek minds like a firecracker stuffed into a Cheez Doodle back in 1981. Rightfully infamous, that scene is such high-octane cinematic badassery that it knocks the rest of the movie off-kilter, as if Landis himself couldn't quite believe how awesome it was. Landis isn't the greatest with endings anyway, but it speaks volumes to the aforementioned badasserythat a last act packed with public nudity, reanimated corpses, triple XXX porn parodies and a fucking decapitation seems like a soft denouement.

Mitigated by?
Last act be damned. I present a bold Dude Movie proclaimation: An American Werewolf In London is the best monster movie of the 80s. Suck it, C.H.U.D.!

* Let's call it about halfway through Coming To America when I, along with the rest of the continent of North America, suddenly noticed Eddie Murphy wasn't funny.

** aka Intro To Dude Movies. It's mostly essays with the occasional multiple-choice. Example: "Comedies are funny, sex is funny, and the French are funny, so why is there no such thing as a funny French sex comedy?"

*** Remember the movie Me And Him? The one where Griffin Dunne's penis suddenly starts talking? That's why.

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