Tonight it’s the turn of the wolves and there really couldn’t be a more obvious double bill than these 80s classics. They are different stories but both have a modern perspective on the the old legends
This film is a modern update on the old Wolf Man story with generous doses of John Landis’s sense of humour and love of music. Two American tourists David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) are attacked by a werewolf while hiking through the countryside of northern England. Jack is killed and David is badly injured. While David recovers in a hospital in London he is plagued by graphically violent dreams. Then he gets a visit from Jack who tell him that he is now a werewolf while Jack is an undead spirit cursed to walk the Earth until the werewolf bloodline is severed when David dies. David convinces himself that he’s still just dreaming
When David gets discharged he goes to stay with Alex (Jenny Agutter) the nurse who took care of him in hospital and is now interested in taking care of him some more. Jack tries to warn him again but it no use and when the full moon comes out Jack is painfully transformed in an enormous savage wolf which slaughters its way across London. Everything comes to violent and tragic end in an alley off Piccadilly Circus.
This film is very well-known for the special effects work by Rick Baker especially during the transformation scene but what brings me back to this film is the characters, the humour and the way John Landis goes out of his way to stick as many moon songs into the soundtrack, using three different version of the song Blue Moon.
Joe Dante and John Landis were both working on their werewolf films at the same and I read that Landis stole Dante’s special effects artist Rick Baker so they got Rob Bottin and I think that his work would have been hailed as the best werewolf effects ever if the other film didn’t exist but at least it got Dante and Bottin the Gremlins gig.
Karen White (Dee Wallace) is a news anchor at a large TV station who agrees to help the police catch a killer, Eddie Quist (Robert Picardo). Something goes wrong and Karen finds herself alone in a porn booth with Eddie who seems to be transforming. A couple of police arrive looking for Karen and Eddie gets shot apparently dead.
Karen is traumatised by her experience so her psychiatrist Dr Gorge Waggner (Patrick Macnee) sends her to a retreat he runs in the country called the Colony. It turns out that the Colony is really a pack of werewolves that Waggner is trying to civilize, with little success.
The werewolves in this film are very different from the one in American werewolf. They are more anthropomorphic, walking on two legs, and they don’t have an amnesiac split personality but have the same consciousness when in human or werewolf form. They also look terrifying.
The humour in this film is present but not as upfront as in American werewolf. I really liked Dick Miller’s occult shop keeper character and there’s a few werewolf film references in a few of the characters names, It’s a good film with plenty of creepy moments though I will say that the wookie at the end is still more comical than scary