An American Werewolf in London

After being attacked on the Moors in rural northern England, a young backpacking American (David Naughton) awakes in a London hospital and falls for his nurse, Walkabout’s Jenny Agutter. This leads to some romcom hijinks, mostly involving Agutter’s Alex not being allowed to sleep with patients, and the vacationing David bored and alone in her apartment all day with no money and no where to go, trying to amuse himself. Oh, one last thing, David’s a werewolf being stalked by the ever-decaying remains of his zombie best friend. Sorry, forgot that bit.
This film is great, mostly memorable for Rick Baker’s stunning effects, featuring a transformation entirely CGI free that looks and feels unbearably painful and has yet to be equalled over thirty years later. There are some good jump scares and creative cinematography, with even a stationery phone box call shot seemingly on a circling bicycle. The subway sequence is particularly exhilarating, and the film is a lot funnier than you might remember, especially the scene in the porn theatre, with various undead suggesting the best ways for David to kill himself (we finally get to see director John Landis’ in-joke movie See You Next Wednesday, referenced in all his films, that turns out to not be that recommendable).
Unfortunately Landis doesn’t follow Spielberg’s rule of not showing too much monster, as the later scenes, before an overly abrupt ending, reveal the creature too clearly, gnawing away at some of the mystery. Frank Oz’s cameo as an American embassy official is also offputting, as I can’t take him seriously when he’s doing a voice that sounds exactly like the one he uses for Fozzie Bear in the Muppets. The most unbelievable part though? It’s possible to get a taxi far in London for £1.50. Ridiculous.
Still, thoroughly enjoyable and worth watching for Baker’s Oscar-winning make-up and effects.
Choose film 7/10

The Blues Brothers

No, you’re not seeing things. Hell has not frozen over, a pig did not just fly past the window and Paul W. S. Anderson did not just make a good film, I have written a post. I honestly cannot explain why I haven’t written anything for the past 2 months (2 months? Sheesh, sorry), but rest assured I have been steadily watching films, I’ve handwritten a bunch of posts and just haven’t gotten round to typing them up, so hopefully over the next few weeks I’ll catch up with the 60-odd films you’re all dying to read about.
So, here we go. The Blues Brothers, a 9-piece rhythm and blues band fronted by brothers ‘Joliet’ Jake and Elwood Blues (John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd) started life as a sketch on American comedy show Saturday Night Live, who’ve had something of a chequered history with sketch to screen adaptations. For every Wayne’s World there’s an It’s Pat, Coneheads or A Night at the Roxbury, but it all kicked off with the Brothers Blue, an undeniable stone cold classic, with a supremely quotable script, dead-on performances and more cameos than Belushi’s eaten hot dinners. Everybody from Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and John Lee Hooker shows up to belt out a number whilst Jake and Elwood set out on a mission from Gahd to get their band back together and raise the $5,000 dollars required to save the orphanage they grew up in. On the way they are hunted by the police, led by John Candy’s plaid-clad detective, rival band the Good Ol’ Boys, a group of Illinois Nazis, the army and Carrie Fisher’s flame thrower toting vengeful ex. With so much going on it would be understandable for the central stars to stick to their sketched personas, but both give it their all, especially Belushi, whose absence couldn’t be replaced by the trio of John Goodman, Joe Morton and a little kid when the ill-advised Blues Brothers 2000 rolled around. Above all, the film never loses its sense of fun, even with a two-hour plus run time unpopular with traditional comedies. A high level of farce – the brothers are remarkably blasé about the level of destruction around them, at one point strolling away unharmed from an exploding building –  helps to retain the silliness, and the soundtrack deserves a place in everyone’s music collection.
Choose film 9/10