1981 An American Werewolf in London Filming Locations
Two American college students on a walking tour of Britain are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists.
Director: John Landis
Writer: John Landis
Stars: David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Joe Belcher.
Unsurprisingly, the locations for John Landis’ horror-comedy can be found mainly around London, with a brief detour into Wales, standing in for ‘Yorkshire’.
The moors were filmed around the Black Mountains in Wales, and ‘East Proctor’ is in reality the tiny village of Crickadarn, about six miles southeast of Builth Wells off the A479. The ‘Angel of Death’ statue was a prop added for the film, but the red phone box is real enough – though Welsh the road signs were covered by a fake tree.
If you want to join the locals here for a pint at ‘The Slaughtered Lamb’, you’ll have quite a journey. Although the exterior was an empty (right now restored – so please do not disturb the residents) cottage dressed up for the movie.
The interior of ‘The Slaughtered Lamb’ is in Surrey. It’s The Black Swan, Old Lane at the junction with Ockham Lane, Martyr’s Green, about a mile northwest of Effingham Junction between Guildford and Leatherhead. The photogenic pub, also featured in TV’s Inspector Morse, but has been given a radical makeover since the Eighties.
It’s right now a smart restaurant-pub and you’ll need to use a little imagination to recognise it as the old-world inn where Lila Kaye tended bar, a young Rik Mayall played chess and Brian Glover held court. The wall which bore the pentagram was a false addition for the film (it’s actually the doorway to what is right now the main dining room) and the bench seats are gone, but the layout remains the same. Oh, and there’s no longer a dartboard.
The hospital in which David Kessler (David Naughton) recovers from a nasty wolf bite was the Princess Beatrice Maternity Hospital on Finborough Road at Lillie Road in Earl’s Court, London SW5. The building is still there, and is right now a hostel for the homeless.
A block east, around the corner at 64 Coleherne Road, SW10, you can see the flat of nurse Alex cost (Jenny Agutter), where David does some shape-shifting to Bad Moon Rising (tube: Earl’s Court).
Unusually, the tube station, where the city gent gets chomped, was filmed, during the wee little hours, at Tottenham Court Road Station (London Transport’s all-purpose location, the closed Aldwych Station in the Strand, is almost invariably used for filming).
The undead victims pop up in a studio recreation of the old Eros News Cinema (right now a branch of GAP clothes store, more recently featured in Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1) on the corner of Shaftesbury Avenue in Piccadilly Circus. You can see the cinema in its heyday in 1949 when the kids go to see the Siege of Burgundy in classic Ealing comedy Passport To Pimlico.
And once again John Landis demonstrates his talent for staging major set-pieces in impossible locations by setting the climactic mayhem smack in the middle of Piccadilly Circus itself – although, if you look carefully, you can see a wobbly street sign.
In fact, some of this sequence was filmed on a mock-up of the Circus at Twickenham Studios.
The dark alley, where the wolf is finally cornered, which seems to be in the West End, is Winchester Walk, south of the Thames, off the familiar location of Park Street (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Bridget Jones’s Diary among others) in Borough (tube: London Bridge).
An American Werewolf in London (1981) Movie Locations Video
This is the 1st film to earn the Academy Award for Best Makeup. That category was created in 1981.
Only four American work permits were requested of the British government for the production: for director John Landis, makeup artist Rick Baker, and actors David Naughton and Griffin Dunne. The 1st three work permits were granted by the British government without question. But the British office of Actors’ Equity questioned the necessity of a work permit for actor Dunne, claiming that there were already plenty of young American actors living in Great Britain who could portray the role of Jack. It was only when director/screenwriter Landis threatened to rewrite the script and re-title the movie "An American Werewolf in Paris" that the equity office reconsidered the application and granted Dunne his work permit.
John Landis wrote the screenplay for this film following an incident while shooting Kelly’s Heroes (1970) (while he was a go-fer) in the countryside of Yugoslavia. While driving along a country road with a colleague, Landis encountered a gypsy funeral. The body was being buried in a massively deep grave, feet 1st, while wrapped in garlic, so he would not rise from the dead.
John Landis has reported that when he was approving a high-definition transfer of the film for DVD in the mid-2000s, he was taken aback by how gory the film actually was.
Studio executives hoped John Landis would cast Dan Aykroyd in the role of David and John Belushi as Jack. John Landis refused.
The final look of the werewolf beast was based on make-up creator Rick Baker’s dog Bosko.
Griffin Dunne stated in 2007 that his biggest fear was that his mother, who was ill at the time, would not be able to handle seeing a film where her son appeared as a mutilated corpse.
While John Landis was trying to get this film made, Rick Baker became tired of waiting (over eight years) and decided to use what he had been planning for this film on The Howling (1981). Eventually Landis called Baker and told him, "I have the money. Let’s make ‘American Werewolf’!" to which Baker replied that he was already doing a werewolf picture. Landis started yelling at Baker over the phone. Baker decided to leave The Howling (1981) in the hands of his protégé Rob Bottin and would only consult on that film, leaving him free to do this one. Reportedly, Rick Baker’s initial decision is something for which John Landis has never forgiven him.
David Naughton reported that the hospital bed in the forest scene was the most difficult and painful one. Back then, they used glass contact lenses.
The episode of The Muppet Show (1976) playing on the television during David’s nightmare sequence is The Muppet Show: Señor Wences (1980), but the portion shown was never shown in the US. This is why Americans often assumed it to be a fake episode and why Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog are credited.
All the songs in this film have the word "moon" in their titles.
The fake porno movie "See You Next Wednesday" was the 1st thing to be filmed during production.
Rick Baker claimed to have been disappointed by the amount of time spent shooting the face changing shot for the transformation after having spent months working on the mechanism. John Landis only required one take lasting about seven seconds. Baker felt he had wasted his time until seeing the film with an audience that applauded during that one seven 2nd shot.
The opening scene of the movie – also the 1st scene filmed – depicts friends David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) on a walking tour of Yorkshire, Northern England, traveling on foot toward the nearest town. Because of the cold and dampness of the location, Dunne’s nose was running. While delivering a line of dialogue, Naughton glanced over at Dunne just in time to see Dunne catching and wiping away a stream of snot running from his nose. Naughton laughed at the sight of Dunne’s discomfort, making Dunne begin to laugh while responding to Naughton’s line of dialogue. Because of the spontaneity of the shot – and because the scene was largely improvised anyway – director John Landis decided to use that imperfect shot in the film’s release print.
Because of this film, makeup and industry technological contributions became recognized by the Academy Awards in 1981. Makeup artist Rick Baker was the 1st to receive an Oscar in the brand new category. William Tuttle was the 1st makeup effects artist to receive an Oscar (being an honorary one) for his work on 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964).
During a preview of the film the marquee said, "From the Director of Animal House (1978)." Because of this, many people in the audience thought they were seeing a comedy. Reportedly, people ran out of the theater when they discovered it was a horror film because they were frightened.
John Landis had to avoid filming any full-frontal nudity of David Naughton during the transformation scene and dream sequences after Naughton informed Landis that he was not circumcised, even though his role, David Kessler, was written as being Jewish.
Michael Jackson was so bowled over by this movie – most especially by the the makeup and special effects – he insisted on hiring the responsible personnel for his planned music video Michael Jackson: Thriller (1983). When John Landis agreed to direct (his 1st music video), he brought on board his foremost "werewolf" crew including, Robert Paynter (cinematography), Elmer Bernstein ("creepy" music), Rick Baker (special makeup effects) and his wife Deborah Nadoolman (costume design).
The location filming of the front of Alex’s flat and surroundings was filmed on or around Lupus Street in Pimlico, London (lupus is Latin for wolf).
At the close of the credits is a congratulatory message for the marriage of ‘Prince Charles’ and Princess Diana (as Lady Diana Spencer). It was included because when David is trying to get arrested, he shouts, "Prince Charles is a f–got!" The film was shot months before the preparations for the couple’s July 1981 marriage.
Frank Oz technically appears as two characters in the movie. Mr. Collins, the man who talks to David in the hospital, and the voice of Miss Piggy in The Muppet Show: Señor Wences (1980) clip.
Rick Baker and John Landis had several disagreements over what the design of the werewolf should be. Baker wanted it to be a two-legged werewolf saying he thought of werewolves as being bipedal. Landis wanted a "four-legged hound from hell".
When trying to call home, David Kessler gives the operator a phone number (516-472-3402) that contains a Long Island, brand new York, area code. It is also an unusual case in which an actual phone number is used.
At one point David screams, "I’m a fuckin’ werewolf, for God’s sake!" For television, David Naughton screamed, "I’m a famous werewolf, for God’s sake!" The latter phrase was looped in post-production.
One of two werewolf films to win the Academy Award for Best Makeup. Rick Baker won both times the 2nd being for The Wolfman (2010).
Jenny Agutter, John Woodvine and David Schofield went on to rejoin John Landis for Burke and Hare (2010) almost 30 years later, on yet again, an exclusive UK location shoot.
The scene with David (David Naughton) in the cage with the real wolves was filmed in one take as Naughton had no desire to get back into the cage with the animals.
David Naughton was reportedly cast because John Landis had seen him in a television commercial for Dr. Pepper.
Unlike most motion pictures it was filmed in sequence, with the opening scenes filmed 1st and the closing sequences filmed last.
John Landis originally wanted three other songs to add to the soundtrack: Cat Stevens wouldn’t allow "Moonshadow" to be used because he had stopped allowing his secular music to be licensed for films following his conversion to Islam; Bob Dylan wouldn’t allow his design of "Blue Moon" to be used in an R-rated film, as he had just begun his brief conversion to Christianity; and Elvis Presley’s design of "Blue Moon" proved unavailable due to the ongoing lawsuits involving his estate.
The Werewolf howl that was used for the film was a combination of a actual wolf and an elephant. Producer George Folsey Jr. claimed, in the Beware the Moon: Remembering ‘An American Werewolf in London’ (2009) documentary, that the howl had been played backwards. Director John Landis also stated in the documentary that the Howl was a combination of seven or eight different animals.
When David calls home to speak to his family, he speaks to his sister Rachel. During the conversation, they talk about their brother Max. Max and Rachel are the names of Director John Landis’s children.
The total duration of composer Elmer Bernstein’s original score for the film is a total of seven minutes, much to the surprise of film music aficionados who have wanted for a release of this music for years. The music is more in the vein of transitional orchestral cues in between the prerecorded songs featured throughout the film, to give the film more dramatic weight where needed.
The title of the movie "See You Next Wednesday" is a trademark of John Landis’ work. 1st encountered by him as dialogue in 2001: A Space Odyssey, he created a fictional movie and included posters for it as early as 1973 (then later in Trading Places and Coming to America), billboards (Blues Brothers), cinemas screening it (American Werewolf in London; the Thriller music video) and also as dialogue and other kinds of props/set dressing.
In 1997, the movie was re-recorded as a Radio drama by Audio Movies Limited for BBC Radio 1 in Britain. It was broadcast during Halloween that year, in short snippets throughout the day. Brian Glover, John Woodvine and Jenny Agutter reprised their roles from the movie.
The hospital to which David is brought after being attacked by the werewolf was a disused hospital – Princess Beatrice Hospital, in London (room 21, Floor 4). The building is right now used as a homeless clinic.
Much of the British cast, including actor John Woodvine, playing the role of Dr. Hirsch, were appearing in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s London stage production of "Nicholas Nickleby," simultaneous to the film’s production.
The wolves used in the London Zoo scene were kept privately by Roger Palmer in the UK and appeared in several TV programmes and in adverts. Roger went on to found the UK Wolf Conservation Trust which keeps wolves to this day.
Peter Ellis, who plays the ‘Bobby in Trafalgar Square’, 3 years later went on to star in the famous long-running British police procedural TV series The Bill (1984) although instead of a Police Constable he would play a Chief Superintendent (a much higher rank).
As Of 2014,The Only John Landis Movie To Win An Academy Award.
John Woodvine was cast at short notice after the 1st two choices left the project.
Because David calls Prince Charles sexuality into question in the film, a disclaimer was added to the credits which read "Lycanthrope films limited wishes to extend its heartfelt congratulations to Lady Diana Spencer and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales on the occasion of their marriage – July 29th 1981".
During the infamous transformation scene, David’s screaming evolves into a series of monstrous roars. In this scene, there is a shot where he is on his back and staring at the camera, reaching out. From this moment to the end of the scene, listen carefully; the audio track of the werewolf roars is the exact same track used in the opening scene of Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
Humphrey Bogart can be seen in two posters in Alex’s apartment. There is one for Casablanca (1942) on the front wall in the living room, and there’s a black-and-white solo shot of Humphrey Bogart in the kitchen.
The picture was released during an early-mid 1980s cycle of werewolf movies. These included Wolfen (1981), The Howling (1981), Teen Wolf (1985), Howling II: Stirba – Werewolf Bitch (1985), Full Moon High (1981), Teen Wolf Too (1987), The Company of Wolves (1984), The Marsupials: The Howling III (1987), and An American Werewolf in London (1981).
The London Underground station used in the film is Tottenham Court Road, and the name sign is visible in some shots. It was refurbished in the late 1980s. The platform with the train arriving and departing is the northbound Northern Line platform. This is NOT Aldwych station as previously reported.
Universal Studios halloween event in Orlando Florida, Halloween Horror Nights had a walk through maze based on the movie it was voted the best maze at the 2013 event. Due to its popularity Universal Studios Orlando has confirmed that the house will return for the Halloween Horror Nights 25 this year 2015.
The scene where Alex is attacked through the hospital window bears uncanny resemblance to a scene from horror anthology Dead of Night (1945). Only in Dead of Night, the nurse is not brutally attacked.
John Landis: appears briefly near the end of the film. He is the bearded man who gets hit by a car and thrown through the plate glass window in Piccadilly Circus.
The woman whom David runs into at the zoo was not told that David Naughton would be nude, but she was told that a man would come out and say something.
John Landis had a bit of a communication issue on the set with the effects crew. He told them to take the head of Inspector Villiers and throw it across the hood of a car. They looked at him in puzzlement, and after he picked up the head and threw it himself, they replied, "Oh, you mean the bonnet."
David Naughton said the transformation scene took 6 days to complete, roughly 10 hours a day spent on applying the makeup, 5 hours on set, and 3 hours of makeup removal. Because the makeup took so long to apply and remove, there was only enough time for one setup a day. Rick Baker estimated that only half an hour of footage was shot during the entire week. The snout protrusion was the last shot to be filmed and it did not include Naughton, but an animatronic head. In fact it was the last shot in the entire production and was conducted after the wrap party had been held and the cast and crew started going home. Baker found that a little anticlimactic.
Director/screenwriter John Landis advised actor Griffin Dunne that the key to the character of Jack Goodman was that he was always to be encouraging, optimistic, and cheerful as a member of the undead, no matter what his stage of ghastly corporeal decay, deterioration, and decomposition. Dunne claimed to have found this requirement to be difficult as he was, for the very 1st time in his life, seeing what he would look like as a rotting and mutilated corpse.
Griffin Dunne helped puppeteer the "zombified" design of his character Jack in the porno theater scene, saying his lines at the same time.
The scene when the werewolf runs riot in Piccadilly Circus was filmed at that busy intersection when police stopped the normal traffic and the public. Everyone took their places, it was filmed with multiple cameras and it was all cleaned up within the half hour. It was the very 1st time in many years that filming had been allowed in Piccadilly Circus, due to lingering resentment over an unannounced smoke bomb which director Michael Winner set off while filming a scene for The Jokers (1967), after which he sped off in a taxi with the film magazine while other members of the crew were arrested; however, John Landis’ cordial experience in working with the Chicago police on The Blues Brothers (1980) helped overcome official reluctance to approve the filming, especially as he had completely worked out a plan, using a scale design of the area, whereby traffic would be minimally disrupted.
John Landis initially wanted to keep the werewolf’s screen time to a minimum, having it only appear in a couple scenes, just enough to give an impression of something huge and ferocious. The long shot of the werewolf cornering Gerald Bringsley on the Underground escalator was an example of this. Landis’ decision to show the werewolf as much as it was shown was based on the fact that Landis loved Rick Baker’s design of the monster.
When Jack is killed by the 1st werewolf, makeup artist Rick Baker told Griffin Dunne to be careful with the wolf’s head as it was brand new and quite delicate. During the 1st take Griffin rip the foam rubber off the head. Rick was so irritated by this that he considered putting hard teeth in the wolf but instead used the backup head to ‘beat the crap out of Griffin’.
Rick Baker performed the action of the werewolf biting off Inspector Villier’s head.
In an interview with Mick Garris on "Take One," John Landis stated that in a preview, he included a scene in which you saw more of how the three bums in the junkyard were killed. People reacted so strongly, and loudly for the rest of the preview, that he was afraid that people would miss some of the key plot points at the end of the film. He added that he felt it was a bad idea because it might have made the movie stand out more.
The scene where Alex is attacked through the hospital room window in David’s dream-within-a-dream bears uncanny resemblance to a scene from horror anthology Dead of Night (1945). Only in Dead of Night, the nurse is not attacked.
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