Twenty-eight years after it was released, John Landis's classic An American Werewolf in London is coming to Blu-ray and the director was commemorating this cleaned-up version by showing it at FrightFest in the UK last night.
The British horror festival, now in its 10th year, takes over cinemas in London's West End for five days and has moved from the repertory cinema the Prince Charles to the prestigious Empire Leicester Square for 2009's festival. American Werewolf in London was screened in the afternoon of a breezy late summer's day in London (appropriately enough), introduced by director John Landis.
Nearly thirty years on, it has lost none of its power and invention and scenes like the transformation of American tourist David (David Naughton) into the werewolf in the flat of nurse Alex Price, played by Jenny Agutter or being hounded by the undead spirit of his fellow US hitchhiker Jack Goodman (Griffin Dunne) still look spectacular on the big screen, especially with this new print. Rick Baker's magnificent effects work still feels groundbreaking, with the viewer being able to pick out each last detail of David's transition from man to werewolf in excruciating Technicolor glory.
After the showing of the film, Landis came back on to introduce a few of the key crew from American Werewolf in London, including its director of photography Robert Paynter, and answer a few questions about the film and the merits of Blu-ray. In fact, he is an advocate of the format because he was waxing about the new version of the movie and the documentary Beware The Moon, about the making of AWIL, included on the forthcoming Blu-ray edition. It's not the last we'll see of American Werewolf in London either since Landis has just sold the remake rights to Dimension Films, so it is likely the cinema will see a new version of this story before too long.
And he's obviously not finished shooting in England either, as he is currently beginning pre-production on Burke and Hare, about the infamous body snatchers, with none other than genre stalwart Simon Pegg. The movie is based at London's historic Ealing Studios in the west of the city and it's just possible that he may be able to invest new life into another classic horror tale the way he did with American Werewolf in London back in 1981.