Movies: ‘An American Werewolf In London’ with David Naughton

The marquis bearing "An American Werewolf with David Naughton" at Hollywood Theatre in Portland, Ore., on August 12, 2017. (Bryan J. Dorr /

Undoubtedly, “An American Werewolf In London” is the pinnacle of werewolf movies. So, why am I posting a 1981 movie for my movie commentary in 2017?

Hollywood Theatre, an independent movie house in Portland, Oregon, not only screened the movie for one night, actor David Naughton appeared as a special guest at the movie. The vintage marquis below the red and white towering “HOLLYWOOD” sign blazed the words “AMERICAN WEREWOLF WITH DAVID NAUGHTON” boldly printed for the NE Sandy Blvd. traffic to see. Then, a chalk sandwich board with Hollywood Theatre’s logo with hand scrawled “AMERICAN WEREWOLF IS SOLD OUT.”

A few vintage “AWIL” posters and images hung from the peach colored walls of the historical theater. Inside the main theater, nearly all the seats are filled. Around 7:00 p.m., Hollywood’s host hopped up onto the stage and introduced David Naughton. The crowd applauded and cheered enthusiastically. Then it was time to get the show rolling.

“An American Werewolf In London” opens up with a scenic shot and Bobby Vinton’s “Blue Moon.” The audience applauded and cheered to key actors like David Naughton, Grffin Dunne, Jenny Agutter, then more enthusiastically to make-up artist Rick Baker, who won the movie an Oscar.

As for the movie, John Landis’s horror-comedy story is about two American boys, David Kessler and Jack Goodman, traveling to England. After being attacked by a werewolf, one is killed and the other survives. The survivor lives with the curse of being a werewolf and being taken cared of by an attractive nurse named Alex Price.

“AWIL” story is simple with a mix of dramatic and humor. The visual make-up from Rick Baker is what makes “AWIL’ so great. The werewolf design, Jack Goodman and other victims in limbo state, Nazi demons, and undoubtedly the infamous detailed two minutes and forty five seconds transformation scene.

After the movie, David Naughton appeared on stage to talk about the movie and answer some audience questions.His discussion went on to cover introductions and interactions with other actors like Dunne, Agutter and feelings during the intimate scene, and make-up artist Rick Baker. Naughton also talked about the transformation scene, the most uncomfortable make-up being the glass wolf eyes used in the hospital bed scene, and the Nazi demons scene.

The night was definitely fun.

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