Practical Effects and AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON and MORE!
In this Issue:
- Horror History: Practically Perfect In Every Way
- Image of the Week: “I’m Sorry, Pooh.”
- Tiny Bites – This Week’s Best Horror Headlines
- Things We Love: Vantasm
- Hey, That’s Us! – Shudder in the News
HORROR HISTORY: PRACTICALLY PERFECT IN EVERY WAY
By Amelia Emberwing*
There are many critical factors to a horror film surviving the test of time. Arguably, few are more important than the use of practical effects. Today we frequently see practical effects pushed to the side in favor of CGI. Though technology has come farther than we could have ever imagined, it stands to reason that even today’s impressive digital artistry will look questionable forty years from now.
Meanwhile, practical effects are the little black dress of cinema; the cut of choice might change from era to era, but the concept will always remain in style. An American Werewolf in London is a perfect example of just how important good practical effects are to a film’s longevity.
Since the movie’s release back in 1981, director John Landis has expressed regret at the length of the werewolf transformation. Frankly, if Rick Baker made me sit in a makeup chair for ten hours (the length of time it took to get David Naughton wolfed up), I would have demanded nothing less! The iconic scene remains stunning to this day, and it’s almost entirely thanks to Baker’s artistry.
Baker was faced with a unique challenge even without considering the limited resources available during the time of production. Landis’ script was extremely specific about not just the level of pain David’s character would experience during his transformation, but also that the scene would be well lit. Horror usually gives artists the opportunity to fudge a little bit in favor of some darker sets. But there was no such luck for Rick Baker.
The astounding level of skill that went into the werewolf would go on to win Baker the first Academy Award for makeup in history. (John Chambers’ and William Tuttle’s Oscars before it were both honorary.) Now, nearly forty years after the fact, even the pickiest of audiences can see just how well-earned those accolades were.
Naughton’s werewolf transformation wasn’t the only area where the team decided to keep things practical. If you recall his character’s stint in the cage with the wolves in the zoo, you should know that there’s no movie magic going on there. Dude’s just naked and afraid in a cage with some wolves.
Practical effects. They work!
*Amelia Emberwing is a film and television critic who spends too much time talking about dinosaurs, superheroes, and folk horror. You can find her over at Birth.Movies.Death., /Film, Atom Tickets, and more.
IMAGE OF THE WEEK
“I’m Sorry, Pooh.”
DeviantArt illustrator Disse86 likes taking your favorite characters from film and television and
ruining your childhood giving them a horror makeover. Take Tigger, for instance. Once bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, and pouncy, he’s now where nightmares are born and lay eggs. The most wonderful thing about this Tigger truly is that he’s the only one.
THE TERROR, GODZILLA AND MORE
Remember Dear David? Adam Ellis’ child poltergeist? If you don’t, consider yourself lucky – he was horrifying. But if you do and you’re eager for more terrifying Twitter stories, Bustle’s got you covered.
Showbiz CheatSheet explores how Ari Aster and Jordan Peele are defying convention and redefining horror.
The Terror: Infamy is letting the horrors of human nature fuel this season’s scares while making a political statement about the current treatment of immigrants in the U.S.
We’ve heard the myths about exposing children to horror. Well, Rue Morgue is here to debunk them all.
If you live in LA, love A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, and want to give to a good cause, you’re not going to want to miss this special live reading of the film on September 8th. Both Robert Englund and Heather Langenkamp will be reading on stage alongside other cast members, and it’s all for charity.
Halloween Horror Nights is bringing House Of 1000 Corpses to life this year with a haunted maze. Might be best to bring a buddy.
Wrap up your summer horror viewing with some of these camp flicks that aren’t Friday The 13th.
Jeffrey Combs talks about the challenges of playing Edgar Allan Poe in his stage show Nevermore.
THINGS WE LOVE: VANTASM
It may not be the Barracuda, but this glorious piece of airbrushing mastery has the Don Coscarelli seal of approval. We like to think Reggie would dig the Vantasm.
HEY, THAT’S US! – SHUDDER IN THE NEWS
The Best Horror Movies of 2019 (So Far) (Boar, Hagzussa, Knife + Heart, The Nightshifter)