Geeky Cinephile Musings…
I don't pontificate, I blather.

I see a bad moon rising…DRINK!!!!

I want to preface this post by saying that the photos here of the screening are posted courtesy of Saskia Wilson-Brown, as my own pictures are being held hostage by my phone, who is being mean to me.  As soon as I can recover the photos I took that night, I’ll post them.  I would not want you to miss out on the bacon necklaces…keep reading, you’ll see.

Recently (September 10th to be exact) I had the extreme pleasure of attending one of the most hilarious, enjoyable screenings I’ve been to in a long time—Cinema Speakeasy’s presentation of An American Werewolf in London, (1981) directed by the fantabulous John Landis, and starring David Naughton (David), Griffin Dunne (Jack), & Jenny Agutter (Nurse Alex).

Cinema Speakeasy was started in 2009 by Saskia Wilson-Brown as a “direct reaction against a corporate job.” (My kind of gal.) It’s a venue for independent films to get seen without all the hoopla of having to deal with festivals, and the box office is split with the filmmakers.  Since its inception, Cinema Speakeasy has expanded and now operates in San Francisco as well.  Their tagline is “…because good independent films are seldom seen and curation is the new black.”  You can find their Facebook page here.  I, for one, am going to push for a screening of The Wicker Man.  After all, I have the uncut version on DVD (the one with all the footage that was previously lost but thankfully not buried under the highway), and I just think it’s about time to see Britt Eckland’s naked ass three feet wide and two feet high.

 But! Back to the night of the werewolf! OWWWWWWWOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

An American Werewolf… was held in an art space called Royal-T Café.  For those of you who haven’t yet heard of or seen this place, I highly recommend it.  It is a dazzling and little-girlie-squeal-inspiring array of retail and visual art, and there’s currently a prevailing theme of bacon products, (like bacon necklaces, natch!) which sure is a sight for this ol’ North Carolinian’s sore eyes, lemme tell you.  So already I’m a happy camper, surrounded by pork in all shapes and sizes, and now I get to watch a horror film?!? Woohoo! 

In the screening room, tables of tasty food (maple bacon popcorn!!) and drinks were set up, drink tickets were offered, and a raffle was held for attendees (I didn’t win a dang thing, dagnabbit!).  In regards to alcoholic bevvies, there was one choice only—Newcastle Werewolf Ale.  Yup.  You heard right.  I didn’t even know this stuff existed.  It was delicious, blood red, ice cold, and free—therefore, possibly the best beer I’ve ever tasted.  Hey, a Scotsman didn’t marry me for nothin’!

As we all nestled into our seats, I had the opportunity to listen to conversations around me.  One person pontificated for twenty minutes on how a werewolf movie MUST have the pain factor, i.e. during the change, the amount of pain that it would naturally involve should be shown, or else it’s “just weak.”  (I heartily agree with this, by the way.)  Another person said, “Julie Delpy was in the new one?! No way!” Hmmm…I think that one was my husband.  (During his spell-checking of this post he vigorously denied this was him, but I stand firm.)

Drinking rules were set up early on.  We had to drink every time:

  • Someone says “Jack.”  (This was a GREAT one, by the way.  Well done, Mark Gilmer!!)
  • There’s a full moon.
  • Jack’s ghost tells David to kill himself.
  • Tits. 
  • Every time David wakes from a dream.
  • Every time there’s porn on the screen.

As you can well imagine, there were a lot of “DRINK!!!” choruses.  And hoots and howls, of course. 

Although scores of film commentators, bloggers, and critics have written exhaustively about this film, I was freshly excited by certain aspects, almost as though it were the first time.  For one thing, John Landis is an amazingly economical director—he keeps things flowing nicely, at a quick pace, and yet manages to throw in completely extraneous hilarity that doesn’t detract at all from the narrative line.  Apparently this type of careful planning spills over into all aspects of his directing—he was the first director allowed to shoot in Piccadilly Circus after the Michael Winner/The Jokers fiasco (read about that here—wow.), and only then because he’d built a scale model of the set and outlined in minute detail how things would play out during the filming of that sequence.  (Landis humbly attributes the permission to film there to the fact that he set up an impromptu, free, public screening of The Blues Brothers.)  Consequently something that could’ve taken days and wreaked havoc on the popular tourist trap was filmed and cleaned up in about a HALF AN HOUR total, over the span of two days.  Yes, you heard right.  I’m almost not believing it as I write it.

I was also impressed with the cinematography by Robert Paynter, who pretty much shot every single beloved film from the ’80s.  Again—very economical, and combined with Landis’s directing skills, what the audience is seeing can range from hysterically funny to hysterically frightening, all without one word of dialogue, in a heartbeat.

This movie really has it all—it’s so funny, it’s at times very scary, it’s sexy (the shower scene…heh-LOW!!) it’s gory, there’s no stupid CGI to mess things up (I mean, you just cannot beat real makeup and prosthetics when it comes to horror films, in my humble opinion).  The subway killing scene is one of the finest executions of terror in any horror film, hands down.  You really feel like you’re there, running from something unseen but heard.  You can hear your footsteps echoing in the corridors as you run from your’re almost to the top of the escalators!!!….only to trip and fall…and look behind you…and finally see what’s about to rip you apart.  Brilliant.  As for the humor, Landis throws in so many subtle tongue-in-cheek moments it’s hard to keep up.  Even the porno (See You Next Wednesday!!!) was written in an off-beat, quirky style that made all of us hoot and guffaw (beyond the fact that pornos are often ridiculous and begging to be made fun of).  The acting was really good—Jenny Agutter is surprisingly natural during the most unnatural moments, and good Lord, she reminds me of Ingrid Pitt (another sign we should see The Wicker Man next, Saskia!!) For being discovered on a Dr. Pepper commercial, David Naughton certainly has the chops (ho ho!) to pull off both comical and darkly disturbing with equal ease.  Griffin Dunne is another favorite—he later became a director, and in fact directed one of my favorite films, Practical Magic.  And I REALLY love the ending.  Blam! He’s dead, life moves on…And NOW for a rockin’ song!

If you haven’t seen this film in a while, I suggest you revisit it.  If you’ve never seen it, what the hell are you doing with your life? I will conclude with a few of my favorite lines from the film…and boy, there were a TON.  Support local films, support independent films, support horror films without CGI, support werewolf films where the individual changing is in great pain during the change, support Cinema Speakeasy, keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars.

 *          *          *          *

“Those sheep shit on my pack.”

“You have very beautiful sheep.”

“Have you ever talked to a corpse? It’s BORING!!”

“I will not be threatened by a walking meatloaf.”

“A naked American man stole my balloons.” (this scene is a RIOT)

An American Werewolf at Cinema Speakeasy!!!


One Response to “I see a bad moon rising…DRINK!!!!”

  1. So fun. Thanks for the write-up.

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