Keep Clear Of the Moor. Beware the Moon: An American Werewolf in London (1981)

an-american-werewolf-in-london-19811Keep clear of the moor. Beware the moon, lads.

This movie has been referenced in so many books and films that I had been dying to watch it. I wanted to see why everyone loved. So this past Friday the 13th, I decided to watch it and The Wolf Man (1941) as it was a full moon. But when I saw it, I found it was HORRIBLE!!!! One of the worst films ever!! On par with Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and The Beast of Yucca Flats

Mistake Great Gatsby

The main character, David, is so bland and hardly developed that I don’t even care if he becomes a werewolf or not. He also acts crazy all the freakin’ time. In The Wolf Man (1941), Larry thinks he’s crazy, realizes that he’s not, and then tries to stop turning into a werewolf and hurting others. David on the other hand seems to revel in the crazy, and doesn’t seem sad at all that his friend is dead as he is enjoying Nurse Price, etc. While The Wolf Man  is sad and tragic, this was just boring and…more boring.

Jerk

It took over an hour to see David turn! Over an hour! This movie is an hour and a half and I don’t want to have to sit through an hour of crazy David and naked David and have no werewolf!

I don't think so

This is like Godzilla (2014)!!!! If I’m watching a monster movie, I want to see that monster mentioned in the title! The Wolf Man (1941), has a wolf right away, as Bela is a werewolf, and then we see Larry turn at the half hour mark. That’s how its done people!!

Darcy P&P OMG Can't Even

They really should have changed the title of the film to David Naughton, My Naked Body, as that is really what this film is about. We see more nudity and sex than we do a werewolf, which is super disappointing.

I mean seriously, what were you thinking?

I mean seriously, what were you thinking?

I felt like Dracula in Scooby-Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf.

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I started a M&M eating game. For every time David was naked I would eat an M&M. My stomach started hurting barely in.

shadowofadoubt unhappy

 I have to admit I am getting ahead of myself. Lets go back to the beginning and go through some of the issues.

DeanSupernaturalLetsGetStarted

So for those of you who haven’t seen the film, Jack and David are Americans backpacking through Europe after they have just graduated from college. They are lost in the moors and come upon a pub called the Slaughtered Lamb.

I think the name is a message to steer away.

I think the name is a message to steer away.

[Side Note: the pub is based on a real one that was destroyed years ago. After the film, they opened one up in New York.]

So as the two are walking towards the pub, David tells Jack knock-knock jokes. And I kid you not, he doesn’t get them.

Tom-Hanks-Saying-Really

Like who doesn’t understand knock-knock jokes? I mean three-year old children understand that concept. How did Jack even graduate? And more importantly, why did they even include that in the film?

MeanGirls I know right!

And why would you ever enter a place called the Slaughtered Lamb? It just doesn’t sound like there will be anything good there. I’m with Jack on that one, you should’ve passed on it David.

Bad things happen when you don't listen

Bad things happen when you don’t listen

So they go into the Slaughtered Lamb, Jack sees a pentagram and candles on the wall and he begins telling David all kinds of trivia from The Wolf Man (1941).

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The two end up getting kicked out of the pub and start wandering the moor, when a werewolf attacks.

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It attacks Jack and David takes off running.

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Yep he takes off. You horrible man, you let your friend die! How could you??!! He was trying to help you and when the wolf attacks him you just RUN OFF???!!!

See Hook agrees with me.

See Hook agrees with me.

So David ends up in the hospital with a “wolf” bite while Jack ends up in the morgue.

Your fault!

Your fault!

And that’s when Nurse Price enters the picture.

Ugh

Ugh. Hate her.

Nurse Price is crazy and a skank. Now I don’t like to call women that, but she plays with David’s junk to get him to eat! I’m serious!!!

Darcy P&P OMG Can't Even

She must have a thing for sick/crazy guys.

Plus she is just annoying in how she acts. Nurse Price calls Mark Twain Samuel Clemens when she is reading A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court I know that is his real name, but who actually goes around using it? NOBODY! Everyone calls him Mark Twain. And I know the director is trying to draw parallels between the stories, but no movie, no.

No thank you

The only similarity between the two is an American in Britain. NOTHING ELSE!

David doesn’t have the most fun in the hospital. He sees dead Jack and actually talk to him (weird scene). Jack tells David he is going to be a werewolf and he believes it. David is eventually allowed to check out as his bite is not serious. Nurse Price invites David back to her place and tells him she wants to be with him. She says “I don’t really bring strange men home…I’ve only been with seven men, of which three were one-night stands”

Girl Please

Sounds like you do bring strange men home since that is about half the men you’ve slept with, and David will make that four out of eight.

ew! Gross Yuck

All I can think is how many were people presumed to be crazy (as at this point she thinks David is just imbalanced as he says he is a werewolf)? I mean she’s like Sam Winchester over here. (She actually is as he slept with a werewolf. And a demon. Dated another demon, and was involved with some other monsters.)

Sam Winchester Werewolf

So as Nurse Price and David head back to her flat (apartment) they comment on how high the price of all food is. I’m like,

Girl Please

You paid like £5 for a bag of groceries. I wish food was that cheap.

Why? Why!

Why? Why!

Anyways so we have a second visit from Jack and to be honest, this film is more about the Leprechaun (1993)/Rumpelstiltskin from Once Upon a Time Zombie Ghost Jack, than it is about a werewolf.

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The next day after Jack and Nurse Price had sex, she leaves for work and twin girls with a dog come upon Jack. The girls’ dog barks at him and they both laugh like crazy and walk off.

What the

What? I know they are trying to reference The Wolf Man (1941) how the dog can sense he is a wolf (Gwen’s fiance Frank, his dog does this). But what was up with the twin girls? Did they think after The Shinning (1980) that the only way to do a creepy film was to have weird twin girls?

Mal_huh

And are they honestly going to included every song that uses the word moon? We’ve already had Blue Moon and Bad Moon Rising, I am now half-expecting Moon River to be played next.

Ugh great gatsby

And we get the cliche #56,  “person pretends in the mirror to be the monster they later turn into”.

Ugh

Ugh

So we switch to the hospital and get a second round of this bratty little boy who says no all the time (he was in the first hospital scene). He’s even more annoying the second time around that I am actually hoping he does get eaten.

Die, die, die!

Die, die, die!

The transformation scene was okay.

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So the next day David wakes up in the zoo naked with the wolves. Now that doesn’t make much sense to me, if you are a wild werewolf, why would you go put yourself in a cage? You’re free! It would make way more sense if he woke up in the park instead.

Darcy P&P OMG Can't Even

So David tries to get arrested, “to protect others”, and that was kind of funny because the bobby (cop) won’t consider it until he starts insulting the Queen, Winston Churchill, and Shakespeare. But he is so rude to nurse Price. Telling her to shut up and leave him alone:

jerk_alert32

He then tells Nurse Price he loves her, and she’s like woah Ted Moseby, slow down. I Love You? Really after one night? Woah, you don’t even know her. Besides she’s crazy. You don’t want to date crazy.

David then runs off to call his family and tell them he cares about them before he kills himself, but can only reach his 10-year old sister as everyone else is out. All I can think is, 1) David was attacked by a werewolf  or “wolf” as the doctors are calling it and 2) his best friend has been killed! How are his parents not in London right now trying to see if he’s okay? Their son could have been killed!!

See Hook agrees with me.

See Hook agrees with me.

So David tries to kill himself but can’t go through with it. Now all I can think is, haven’t you seen The Wolf Man (1941), I mean I assume you did as you were telling the nurse about it. Well don’t you remember, a werewolf can only be killed by silver? Slitting your wrists doesn’t work.

ouch Hermione

So stupid

So after that David sees Jack outside a porno film movie house and goes in after him. All I can think is, you’re worried about killing people and you go see a porno? Really?

sort priorities Harry Potter

And don’t give me, that’s where zombie Jack was at and he needed to speak to him. Before that we saw that Jack came to David wherever he went (hospital, Nurse Price’s flat, etc); he could find himself a quiet place and Jack would totally follow him there.

Girl Please

Plus what us up with the film they are watching? A guy and girl are getting it on and a second guy comes marching in the room yelling “You promised you wouldn’t do this again!” The first guy says “No, I didn’t.” The second guy answers, “I’m talking to her.” The women replies, “I don’t know you.” The second guy gets really embarrassed, says “Oh”, and leaves.

SayWhat?

What the heck was the point of that? And immediately after, Jack says “great movie”. I know you are super horny Jack, but no, no, no, no ,no, no, no, no. That is horrible, horrible, horrible.

facepalm Star trek

After this I couldn’t stomach anymore. It wasn’t scary. There was barely an werewolf. It was pretty much a huge mess. I’ll take The Wolf Man (1941) any day.

No no no no no

No no no no no

And here I will leave with more werewolf than we see in the film.

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To start Horrorfest III from the beginning, go to Even a Man Pure of Heart

For the previous post, go to You Will Die in Seven Days

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For more on An American Werewolf in London, go to Pink Elephants

For more on werewolves, go to Unleash the Savage Instincts That Lie Within

For more on Scooby-Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf, go to A Monster Race

For more modern remakes, go to Let Them Fight

For more on monsters, go to What Is This Thing?

For more on Supernatural, go to Happily Ever Aftermath

For more on How I Met Your Mother, go to I’ll Be Back

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Even a Man Pure of Heart: The Wolf Man (1941)

the wolf man

“Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.” 

This is such an amazing film as the story is excellent, the acting superb (Lon Chaney Jr. + Claude Rains). It is also a member of Universal’s Classic Monster Movie Collection, its buddies being The Phantom of the OperaFrankenstein,  The Bride of FrankensteinThe MummyDracula, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, etc. And this post means that I have finally, finally finished the list I set out to complete two years ago.

But what really makes this a spectacular film is that many of the modern myths of werewolves were originated in this film: such as a person becoming a werewolf through a bite; the only way to kill a werewolf is with a silver bullet; and changing into one during a full moon. These are all original concepts created by writer Curt Siodmak. Isn’t that amazing! Like The Mummy and The Creature from the Black Lagoon this film isn’t based on a book or any specific resource, which allowed the writers a lot of leeway in their work and creations.

So this isn’t the first werewolf film, as that was The Werewolf of London, which actually did rather poorly in theaters. This was the second werewolf horror film to be made and become the most famous. All the later depictions such as: The Howling, An American Werewolf in London, I Was a Teenage Werewolf, Van Helsing, The Wolfman (2010), etc.looked to it in creating their stories.

So the film was originally written for Boris Karloff, but he turned it down. And although I love that man [read my The Mummy (1932), Frankensteinor The Bride of Frankenstein post] I can’t imagine this film being as amazing with him as the title role. Lon Chaney Jr. was just superb. Lon Chaney Jr, was the son of the famous Lon Chaney (who I talk about in my Phantom of the Opera post) and interestingly the set that was used to film this movie was the same used for The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) which starred Lon Chaney Jr.’s  father, Lon Chaney.

Unlike other films, The Wolf Man is the only Universal monster to be played by the same actor in all his 1940s film appearances; Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), House of Frankenstein (1944), House of Dracula (1945), and  Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948).

Now I love this movie and story but it is soooo sad as well. Here is a wonderful man pure of heart, who has the unfortunate luck of being bitten by a werewolf and can’t do anything to stop it. Unlike modern movies where the person can control it, change at will, etc; in the original when the man transformed into a wolf he literally transformed into becoming a beast and losing all his humanistic thought, reasoning, etc.

wolfman

So the film starts out with Lon Chaney Jr. as Lawrence Talbot returning home.

Look at this sweetheart

Look at this sweetheart

His older brother has died, and as he is the second son he will now inherit everything–money, title, family home, etc. More importantly, after the realization that his brother is no longer, Lawrence AKA Larry, is eager to rebuild his relationship with his father. They had previously parted on not the best terms (he wanted to be an engineer his father wanted him to be something else. He decided to run away to California, against his father’s wishes).

Larry reacquaints himself with the village, taking a deep interest in a particular shopkeeper, Gwen Conliffe, who is unfortunately engaged. However, she is equally interested and as Larry buys a silver-wolf handled cane the two make a date to meet up later that night and visit the gypsies that are camping nearby.

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  That night Larry meets up with Gwen and her friend Jenny. The three make off to the gypsies passing some wolfsbane along the way. Both girls repeat the old gypsy folklore about wolfsbane:

Even a man who is pure in heart

and says his prayers by night

may become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms

and the autumn moon is bright

Now what is really interesting about this old piece of folklore is that it isn’t that old. This quote has been thought to be an Eastern European folk saying, but Siodmak admits that he was the one who made it up. Even though that might be true, it went  down in film history becoming a part of almost every future Werewolf film and recited in every future Universal film appearance of the Wolf Man. [It is quoted by Van Helsing, but one of the lines was changed to “The moon is shining bright” instead of “The autumn moon is bright“]

Meanwhile, in the gypsy camp one of them has a terrible secret. Bela, played by Bela Lugosi, is actually a werewolf and hiding it from everyone.

Mal_huh Whoa Wow

When the group gets to the gypsy camp and have their fortunes read, Bela sees the pentagram on Jenny’s hand and knows that she’s next for death.

Ahhh!

Ahhh!

 

Bela runs off and the trio start walking home. Soon Jenny is attacked by a wolf and Larry tries to save her. He wrestles with the wolf and kills it by braining it with his cane. (It being silver can kill it) Unfortunately, he couldn’t save Jenny and during the battle, he ended up getting bit…

dun-dun-duuuun

Making him the next werewolf.

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The next day the constable comes to visit, causing Larry to second guess himself as they found a dead Bela instead of a wolf!

Say What

They found Bela beat in the head, and Larry’s silver cane matches perfectly as the weapon.

Col. Paul Montford, chief constable: [showing Larry’s stick to him] Is this your walking stick?

Larry Talbot: Why, yes. That’s the stick I killed the wolf with.

[Sir John Talbot and Col. Montford look at Larry with great concern]

Sir John Talbot: Larry, Bela the gypsy was killed last night. Your walking stick was found next to the body.

Larry Talbot: You mean, Bela the fortune teller? But… I only saw a wolf.

Larry is completely confused as he knows that it was a wolf. And how does that explain the murder of Jenny? Which was done by a wolf? The constable tells him he is still investigating as he really doesn’t want to arrest the Lord’s son, especially since there are so many questions. He ultimately deems the incident an accident.

Larry on the other hand is extremely puzzled. Could he have killed Bela? But he saw a wolf he was bit by one. Except the mark can not be found!

confused

Larry needs answers and decides he will go see the Gypsy woman and not only apologize for her son’s death but ask her what is going on! Gwen and her fiancé Frank go with him.

Wolf Man 1941 5

The gypsy woman, Maleva reveals that he did kill a wolf–a werewolf. Her son Bela was a werewolf and the only thing that could kill him was silver, silver like the silver on his cane.

Maleva: You killed the wolf.

Larry Talbot: Well, there’s no crime in that is there?

Maleva: The wolf was Bela.

Larry Talbot: You think I don’t know the difference between a wolf and a man?

Maleva: Bela turned into a wolf and you killed him. A werewolf can only be killed by a silver bullet, or a silver knife…[looks down at Larry’s walking stick]…or a stick with a silver handle.

Larry Talbot: You’re insane! I tell you, I killed a wolf! A PLAIN, ORDINARY WOLF!!!

Maleva: Whoever is bitten by a werewolf and lives becomes a werewolf himself.

Larry Talbot: Ah, don’t hand me that. You’re just wasting your time.

Maleva: The wolf bit you, didn’t he?

Larry Talbot: Yeah. Yeah he did!

Maleva: [Larry shows Maleva his chest wound concealed under his shirt] Go now – and heaven help you!”

 

Larry of course doesn’t believe her and leaves. That night he transforms into the WEREWOLF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now the transformation was laborious. The makeup took six hours and was the design by  Jack Pierce  for Henry Hull in Werewolf of London Hull had rejected it as he didn’t like how long the process would be to apply it. Chaney Jr. claimed he had to sit motionless for hours as the scenes were shot frame by frame. Pierce used grease paint, a rubber snout, wigs, and glued layers of yak hair to Chaney Jr.’s face. Larry’s dissolve transformation on screen only took seconds, while in actuality it took almost ten hours as they had to keep reapplying layers for the changing fur.

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That night the Wolf Man attacks a grave-digger, Richardson.

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The constable and the Doctor finds his ravaged body and wolf tracks.

Meanwhile, Larry finds himself in bed with wolf tracks all around and has finally decided that the gypsy women must be telling him the truth. He talks to his father who just thinks that he is in shock and doesn’t take any of the “werewolf nonsense” seriously. He even calls the doctor who deems it just a mild form of hysteria.

The Constable and doctor prepare the woods to catch the wolf so that it doesn’t kill another person. The nigh as Larry as the Wolf Man  steps in one of the traps and gets caught. Luckily the Gypsy woman frees him, as she had  felt sorry for his predicament.

Larry transforms back into a human and asks the Gypsy woman and for help. She gives him a charm that will protect him from turning into a werewolf and warns him not to give the charm to ANYONE ELSE AS IT WON’T WORK FOR ANYONE ELSE!

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He then runs off to see Gwen to tell her that he is leaving. He knows he has killed the others and doesn’t want to hurt anyone else.

“Larry Talbot: You wouldn’t wanna run away with a murderer wouldja?

Gwen Conliffe: Oh Larry, you’re not. You know you’re not.

Larry Talbot: I killed Bela. I killed Richardson. If I stay here any longer, you can’t tell who’ll be next.”

Gwen tries to get him to take her with him as she loves him, but Larry sees the mark of the pentagram on her hand and tells her he can’t. Instead he gives her the charm. YES THE CHARM  THAT IS ONLY SUPPOSED TO PROTECT HIM! Really Larry? REALLY??????!!!!!!

Tom-Hanks-Saying-Really

YOU ARE MAKING THE  SAME FREAKIN’ MISTAKE THAT EVERY OTHER MONSTER FILM HERO DOES!

princess Bride Victim to classic blunder Vizzini

DID YOU NOT HEAR THE WOMAN EARLIER? SHE SAID IT WILL WORK ONLY FOR YOU! ONLY FOR YOU!! ONLY YOU!!! YOU KEEP IT! What’s the point of going to a gypsy for help if you ARE NOT GOING TO LISTEN????!!!!!!! I mean this is such a classic mistake made by these men in these horror films. In Dracula, he gives the girl the cross charm that is supposed to protect only him, and then gets knocked out and is unable to keep her from being kidnapped. In The Mummy, he gives the girl the charm that is only supposed to protect him, and it doesn’t work for her. Instead Imohtep knocks him out and takes the girl anyway. MORAL OF THESE STORIES, KEEP THE DANG CHARM!!! DON’T GIVE IT AWAY!!! Alright! So if any of you are given a protective charm you freakin’ keep it!!! YOU HEAR ME????!!!!

And now that I got that little rant out of my system, let’s get back to the story.

So Larry goes to see his father and asks him to lock him up; tie him up in a chair, lock the door, etc and to go far, far, away as he doesn’t want him to be hurt. He also gives his father his silver cane as he knows that it will protect him.

Now this is why I hate modern interpretations of werewolves, except for The Wolfman (2010), as they never capture this aspect of the story. Here is a good man who has become evil, but he doesn’t want to be evil. It wasn’t like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in which Dr. Jekyll made a choice, or even The Phantom of the Opera where he suffered such horrible things and had a complete snap and broke down. This was a good man who wanted to fix bad things in his life but the timing was off and he too is caught up in the evil. Modern interpretations also never cover the heartbreaking scene as this with his dad. He knows he can’t control the evil and the last thing he does is try to protect the ones he loves, first Gwen and then his father. The most emotional is the scene with his father, as here is a man he has been fighting with, had a horrible relationship, but you see in this moment how much love he has for his father. He gives him the cane as he wants his father to be safe, no matter what. And you see how much his father loves him by taking the cane, even though he thinks Larry is delusional.

The_Wolf_Man_4Crying

Gwen is worried about Larry and goes looking for him, running into the woods even though the Gypsy warns her not to. I mean seriously, why don’t we listen to the Gypsies? They are gypsies, they know stuff.

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So Gwen runs out and into Larry, who has escaped from his room. But instead of the sweet, adorable, loving Larry we are confronted by the horrible beast.

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But before the werewolf can do anything, Sir John comes and hits him with the cane, killing him.

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The constable and doctor presume that Larry was killed trying to save Gwen, but Sir John knows the truth and now is left alone and has to bury his other son.

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Maleva: The way you walked was thorny though no fault of your own, but as the rain enters the soil, the river enters the sea, so tears run to a predestined end. Now you will have peace for eternity.”

right in the feels broken heart

Yep. I have to say that this is one of my all-time favorite horror films. Although it makes me want to cry every time. 

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So that was our kick-off piece. Stay tuned for many more wonderful pieces to come!

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For more on The Wolf Man (1941), go to Pink Elephants

For more on werewolves, go to A Halloween Hello from the Austen Men

For more monster movies, go to They’re Coming to Get You Barbara

For more on Claude Rains, go to Universal’s Classic Monster Movies

For more on Bela Lugosi, go to I Bid You Welcome

For more films that spanned countless sequels and remakes, go to Everyones Entitled to One Good Scare