An American Werewolf in Paris Review
Written by: Rileyofthedead
October is my favorite time of the year. Mainly because it means strings of horror movie marathons/shows for the whole month. I especially love when AMC plays horror movies for the entire month. So much fun. I remember a few years back when I wasn't quite a teenager but no longer a kid, we were visiting my brother in Texas. AMC was showing back-to-back's of American Werewolf in London and it's sequel AWI Paris. It should be no surprise that I found John Landis's 1981 werewolf flick to be nothing but totally awesome. It is one of my favorite movies of all time. So after watching the credits roll AMC announced that next up was American Werewolf in Paris, and I remember thinking to myself, "How can they make a sequel? The main character died and the story is resolved."
Well I watched Paris. And for the most part I thought it was pretty good. It had really nothing to do with the original which sucked but it didn't hamper my opinion on London in any way. I haven't watched it since then, until last night that is. And after I watched Paris again all I can say is that it really is an embarrassment. Let's go over what made London a fantastic movie:
1. It was scary but had a nice tone of dark humor that kept you laughing and screaming through the whole film. (The scene in the porno theater happens to be my favorite).
2. The characters were ones that you cared about. They were interesting and when it comes down to it, you really believe that these guys were just regular people caught up in a horrible nightmare.
3. The plot. It's simple. Two backpacking kids from America are mauled by an unknown creature, one of them lives the other one dies. The one who lives now is experiencing a transformation that ultimately ends in his death. There. I summed up the entire movie in two sentences.
4. Most importantly why this film is pretty awesome: The make-up effects. I have seen many a werewolf movie and really none of them have ever come close to surpassing the genius of Rick Baker's monster magic. The Academy Awards freaking made a CATEGORY entirely for him.
Now we have Paris, a sort-of-indirect sequel that was made 16 years later. Let's see how it matches up:
1. Well it sure as hell isn't scary. I can really only think of one scene that was scary/funny. And for starters, the movie takes HALF AN HOUR to get to any werewolf action. The opening scene doesn't really count since you don't even see the werewolf. But what really is a failure is the movie's balance of what's funny and what's scary. It tries to be a satire in lieu of Scream but fails due to really stupid jokes and almost no scares.
2. The characters in this film are so generic. This movie is really dated by the characters, I mean that this film was made in the 90's and it certainly feels like it was made in the 90's. The main character Andy couldn't act his way out of a paper bag. He's so stupid. He only thrives in the beginning when we meet him and it only goes downhill from there. You can read the thought process in his head, "I'm supposed to be scared, so I'm just gonna bend my eyebrows and I'll nail it. Oh wait, shouldn't I be screaming and running? Naw, they'll get that in editing."
The main girl Seraphine is bland. One minute she's suicidal the next she's taking Andy's pants off. Hmm now that I think of it there's a lot of unnecessary nudity in the movie. I'll talk about her more later.
The other characters are forgettable and uninteresting. The most annoying is this American bimbo who Andy hooks up with and fortunately mauls her to death when he turns into a werewolf. Unfortunately she's undead like Jack's character in the original and completely destroys what was cool about being undead.
3. The plot. Well it really has the same premise as the original movie, but the simplicity is lost in the execution. Too many characters and a vague back story are what ruin the movie. This movie also uses humor as a crutch instead of an element. The humor for the most part is stupid 90's humor that you see in like American Pie. There are a few bits that I did chuckle at but overall it's more embarrassing than anything.
4. Now the effects. This film was made almost twenty years AFTER the original American Werewolf in London. You think that that would only mean there would be an improvement for the effects. Well thanks to the bastardization of CGI, this movie looks 10 million times UGLIER in effects. For one thing the undead characters' have makeup that is obviously makeup. With Jack's character in the original, the genius was that every time you saw him he was decaying more and more. In this film that plot is gone and the effects look the same. Though I'll admit when the Amy character tries to whistle and can only pop her eye out or squirt blood, that was kinda funny. It's unrealistic I guess is my point. The undead look merely like characters in a haunted house.
Now the werewolves, that's what's important right? The concept of what the werewolf looked like in London was based off Rick Baker's dog Bosko. And you know what, it DOES look like a wolf doesn't it? So after waiting a good 30+ minutes to see a werewolf in this film what does it look like? A cross between a gorilla-rat-bird. The scrawny werewolf in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was scarier looking than this stupid animal. And we don't even get a GOOD transformation scene. They cheat us by having the characters be hidden (ie Andy jumps into a fountain as a human and pops out a werewolf). That's stupid! What makes London so great is the transformation scene! There's no BS, you see him change into a wolf. These effects are an INSULT to what the original movie established. London is almost THIRTY YEARS OLD and the amazing effects that it created have NEVER been beaten. Werewolf movies and CGI do not work.
So, that's what I think of the movie. But during this period of time of watching Paris, I discovered that Seraphine, the main girl in Paris, is the daughter of the two main characters from London. Does the movie confirm this let alone even discuss the events in the previous film? Nope. I would call this a confirmed speculation. It's merely hinted at in the movie though that results in having a really stupid ending that has left many fans confused. From what I understand there was a violation of character issues in that they couldn't actually refer to the characters in the original movie. But the funny thing is that during the opening credits the words: Based on John Landis's Characters from An American Werewolf in London. If you have it right there in the opening credits, you think that they would go into detail about the first movie!
Although I really dislike this idea, it makes since in that all the werewolves were killed by the end of London. So we get this freak-show girl who is plagued with the werewolf curse her whole life. Do they elaborate on this thereby improving her character? Nope.
An American Werewolf in Paris is really not that bad on it's own. If you ignore the fact that it's the drunken brother of the superior London, than you have yourself a barely passable werewolf film. I don't hate this movie honestly. I just hate that is bears any connection to one of my favorite movies. There's plenty of good action and every now and then the werewolves (mostly closeups of their faces) aren't CGI. But this film could have had potential to be a decent (if not good) follow up to the original. It's not.
PS: There are talks of a remake to this movie (or the first I've seen both come up). One of the newest werewolf movies I saw was Cursed and if that proved anything its that Hollywood can't make a good werewolf movie. If they have a decent plot and elaborate on the backstory though, maybe I can get over the fact that the werewolves will be CGI. Though this is merely a rumor. If they remade Paris, I wouldn't mind this movie isn't worth protesting about. If they remade London, I would be pissed. It's like saying we need to remake the Godfather cause it's old. Although I am looking forward to The Wolf Man next year.