Yesterday, horror fans celebrated the 30th anniversary of one of the greatest werewolf movies ever created – John Landis' An American Werewolf in London. Paul Davis, who is the director behind the fantastic feature-length documentary Beware the Moon – which you can check out on the Full Moon Edition Blu-Ray and 2-disc DVD – kicked off the festivities by hosting a live Twitter commentary (joined by blog The Werewolf's Guide to Life), in which he shared tons of behind-the-scenes information and rare, never-before-seen photos.
"Got the old AWIL photo archive open. Didn't realise the amount we DIDN'T use was as considerable as it seems to be. This bodes well for fans tonight," Davis Tweeted – and indeed it did. The filmmaker's documentary revisits some of the iconic backdrops of the 1981 film about two American men backpacking through England. Their trip is stopped short when one of them gets bitten by a wolf. It's a tragic, horrific, and sometimes absurd movie that has garnered endless amounts of praise over the years for its humor, groundbreaking special effects (Rick Baker!), and unique play on werewolf mythology. Davis is also a life-long fan, having first seen the film when he was only three-years-old.
Here are just a few of the highlights from Davis' conversation.
On the Unforgettable Transformation Sequence
"A selection of transformation pics."
"Can You Keep a Straight Face?"
"This is one of my faves ... a rejected UK Quad poster for the film. Love the tag line."
Master of Puppets
"Archivist Bob Burns has the original full wolf puppet. Rick Baker still has the hero head in his studio … "
On Jack's Corpse Paint
"Here's a Polaroid of a rejected Stage 1 Jack make-up. Landis felt it was too dirty. Wanted it clean."
On Rumors and the Spirit of Independent Filmmaking
"Mythbuster – Aykroyd or Belushi were never seriously considered by any party for the role of David & Jack. It was an independent film, that Landis was an uncredited producer on. So everything began & ended with him. Even if it was suggested by Execs Guber & Peters, Landis never paid attention to them. He made his movie his way, beginning to end."
American Werewolf in London … For Kids?
"One really cool tidbit, when I got the original story boards from artist John Bruno, the second transformation had children stood watching David transform. This is because it was originally intended to be an old Cartoon cinema."
Davis clarified this further during our recent conversation:
"In the '60s and '70s there used to be little cartoon cinemas dotted around London that parents could leave kids at while they shopped. They'd show prints of Tex Avery, Chuck Jones etc. Landis LOVED these cinemas and used to frequent them when he was in London in the '70s. So when he wrote the script it was a cartoon cinema that David talks to the undead in. It wasn't until Landis came back in '81 that he saw it was now a porno theatre. The original story boards, however, show children watching David transform with cut-aways to the on-screen cartoon violence."
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Follow Davis on Twitter and the anniversary hashtag #AWIL30 for more amazing photos and trivia. The director is currently writing a new horror compendium for cult cinema publisher FAB Press titled 666 Horror Movies to Die For, which is expected to arrive next year.