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Films: A is for...

American Werewolf in London, An

“Never spoof horror,” those in the filmic know (and Steve Coogan’s accountant) always say, “it’s beyond parody already.” Interesting, then, that three horror spoofs make it into our list (four if you count Dawn of the Dead), while as many again are at least on nodding terms with the concept of their own ridiculousness. But as for being actually scary, only this one really manages to combine the knowing wink and the cold sweat in equal measure. And how! It’s a veritable compendium of horror stocks-in-trade – the isolated moor, the intimidating locals, attacks in the dark, disturbing dreams, “body horror”, dismemberment, decay, and of course *that* “don’t open the curtains, Jenny!” shock moment. It’s also a comic grab bag – from Glover and Mayall’s eye-popping yokels, via judicious use of aptly-named golden oldies on the soundtrack, “innocent abroad” misunderstandings, in-jokes for film buffs (natch), and the ever-popular balloon-abetted public nudity. The fact that John Landis pulls off the switch between all these strands of knowing humour and hair-on-end terror without missing a beat is, we reckon, the secret of this film’s high ranking – nothing else we can name manages that queasy mix of opposing genres. A revelation when first seen round your Betamax-owning mate’s house back in the day, a unique film ever since.

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  1. Lee James Turnock

    May 21, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Don’t forget John Landis’s in-joke ‘See You Next Wednesday’ becomes a proper film here, in the shape of a hopelessly tit-fixated slice of low-rent British X-cert fleapit grot. Ben Dover’s missus Linzi Drew is ‘Brenda Bristols’ of course, and there’s the splendidly named ‘Lance Boyle’ and one Gypsy Dave Cooper delivering the immortal line “Not you, yer twit, ‘er!”.

  2. Glenn A

    November 13, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    Wasn’t porn star Linzi Drew in this when the werewolf attacks the porn cinema in Soho?

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