Feb 222012
 

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HCF GUILTY PLEASURES: AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN PARIS [1997]

AVAILABLE ON DVD

DIRECTED BY: Anthony Waller

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Waller, Tim Burns, Tom Stern

STARRING: Julie Delpy, Tom Everett Scott, Vince Vieluf, Phil Buckman

RUNNING TIME:100 mins

REVIEWED BY:Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic

 

In Paris, a man is being chased by an unseen creature, almost managing an escape from a sewer before an unseen creature pulls him back. Meanwhile, tourist Andy McDermott is seeing the sights of Paris with his friends Brad and Chris. They taunt him about his pickiness about which women he sleeps with, but he gets them back when he leads them up the Eiffel Tower once it has been closed for the night and prepares to bungee-jump off the top.  He sees a distraught woman leap off so executes a mid-air rescue.  She vanishes into the night, but Andy tracks her down and gets a date with her, even though she appears to have blood on her hands.  She vanishes again, scared Andy may come to some harm, but the lads find out where she is – a dark, dingy night club called ‘Club de le Lune’ where, when they arrive at the club, the doorman locks them in………….

Although I personally prefer Hammer’s The Curse Of The Werewolf in terms of werewolf movies and possibly even the criminally underrated remake of The Wolfman, I certainly agree with the general consensus amongst horror fans that the 1981 movie An American Werewolf In London is a classic and one of the most successful combinations of horror and humour.  Now this belated follow-up An American Werewolf In Paris is mostly regarded as a disaster and didn’t do much at the box office either. Me however…..I rather enjoyed it as a silly romp that didn’t really attempt to be scary but was certainly amusing and had some good ideas. I didn’t expect it to be anywhere near as good as the original so I was not really disappointed.  An American Werewolf In Paris, while it does have a few similarities and follows on from the first one somewhat [though I don’t remember it being explicitly stated in the film that the heroine Serafine is the daughter of the two lead characters from number one], really needs to be taken on its own if enjoyment is to be had and I never watch it soon after I have seen the original.  Maybe I’m a just a sucker for werewolf pictures though I have certainly seen my fair share of awful ones, like most of The Howling sequels!

I have no doubt that if the script that was originally written by John Landis, helmer of the first movie, had been used the movie would have been better.  Considering London had been such a hit, I cannot understand why PolyGram and Universal  would turn down a follow-up script that revived many of its characters dead and alive [most of them dead] and was in the same vein, though by some accounts it was a bit more extreme.  Anyway, after successive drafts were also rejected Landis got fed-up and sold on the franchise to Hollywood Pictures, who made sure that nearly all of Landis’s material was thrown out and replaced.  The ensuring script had a bit more gore than was actually filmed and the film as it stands has a real timidity about it, a real sense of playing safe, though a nicely blackly comic ending involving a werewolf baby was filmed but only used in a few prints including early Australian prints.  Little violence, sex or even fear…you’ll probably wonder why bother?

Well, I have no shame in admitting that the movie entertains throughout in a manner reminiscent more of an 80s genre movie than a 90s one, excepting the CGI of course!  The Eiffel Tower rescue gets things off to a fun start and Andy’s clumsiness around the gorgeous Serafine is rather endearing.  There’s is a scene in a cafe which always cracks me up when he is trying to impress her and totally embarrasses himself; she sees writing on a piece of paper by his friends about ‘scoring’ with her, makes condoms fall out of his pocket and then gets him to blow up one of said condoms, telling him French girls like it!  Of course many will find it hard to understand what she sees in him but that’s often the case in movies written by men!  Except for the opening sequence, the werewolf element is brought into the story very gradually though there’s much lycanthrope action in the second half. The highlights for me are a funny repeat of An American Werewolf In London’s blackly comic sub plot of the hero’s dead friend returning to him and, best of all, a bit where Seraphim tries to get the ill, bedridden Andy by removing her top and bra, sitting astride him and placing his hands on her breasts!  Wouldn’t calm me down, that’s for sure………..

Although there is a distinct lack of edge to the proceedings, the major criticism of Paris is of the CG effects, and that’s understandable!  When the werewolves are running around they just don’t fit in with the rest of their surroundings and the creatures themselves don’t look very lupine, especially their heads – though other films such as the Underworld series share this fault.  I wonder if the designers ever referred to pictures of a wolfves at all!  As monsters though they are effectively ugly, with much effort made to differ them somewhat in looks. With the transformations okay but too brief and nowhere near the brilliant pain and horror of those in London, it’s certainly reasonable to admit that effects-wise the film is a letdown, though watching it again a few nights ago I’ve certainly seen worse in much more recent efforts.  What keeps the film fresh for me are the laughs, including some probably ‘unintentionally funny but funny nonetheless’ bits such as one guy suddenly becoming incredibly agile as he escapes from a cell, and the story, which is actually quite good.  I like the use of injections in bringing on changes, and love the idea of annoying American tourists being lured into clubs as dinner for Parisian lycanthropes.  This time around I wondered if Eli Roth hadn’t been indirectly influenced by this movie for Hostel.

As stated before Paris remains tame in terms of what it shows on screen and would probably be given a ‘12A’ rating now.  The odd bit which looks like is going to turn really dark, like when Andy picks up a drunken, slutty tourist and takes her to a cemetery to feed on, usually doesn’t follow through, and director Anthony Waller overdoes the flashy editing to compensate, though it makes the movie look quite ‘modern’ at times.  Tom Everett Scott is a likeable hero but of course for me the movie belongs to Julie Delpy as easily the sexiest werewolf in screen history, almost the ultimate mysterious, glamorous French girl every young male probably dreams of meeting in Paris but rarely actually does!  Of course it’s a clichéd character but Delpy makes her quite convincing, though watching this and looking at her filmography makes me understand why she gave on a Hollywood which obviously wasn’t giving her the parts she deserved. An American Werewolf In Paris remains easy, relaxing viewing for me, and I really think that with improved special effects it would have a much better reputation……….

Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

 

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