Event: 'An American Werewolf In London' at London Zoo (31 Oct '10) // Words: Saam Das
You might remember that I got mildly excited when bigshot director John Landis came to sit on my row at the European premiere of 'The King's Speech'. Well, I just had to grab an invite to come and see his seminal horror film 'An American Werewolf In London' at London Zoo for the first of Volkswagen's series of See Film Differently events.
Being a fan of both the film and the zoo, it gave me great pleasure not only to be there but also to drag fellow FG writer Rajan along, who had yet to experience either. I think he had a great time. I know I did.
To begin, the event saw a group of competition winners, press people and middling celebrity presenter Rick Edwards have the chance to explore the wonderful London Zoo after hours. Shame many of the animals had disappeared but still, we saw a variety of species and having the Zoo all to ourselves brought its own sense of unique novelty.
Following our somewhat ramshackle but nonetheless entertaining tour of the Zoo, we were brought to the bench (which I imagine has since been replaced?) where David Naughton's character in the film steals a coat before running off. You can see the moment in the trailer above. We were then met by Wainwright (or possibly Wayne Wright but I prefer Wainwright), supposedly one of the senior keepers at the Zoo, who pretended we were in the early 80s throughout the evening and warned us to "stay on the roads". I see what you did there. At well over 6 foot and considerably muscular, he was somewhat intimidating but actually rather charming and amusing. Well played, sir.
Wainwright led us to an exhibition looking behind the scenes of 'An American Werewolf In London' - including props, storyboards, production photos, as well as free booze and popcorn. Hurrah! With more than an hour (a bit too long, in all honesty) to spend musing, I attempted to take in everything in great depth. One moment of particular surprise was seeing a photo of John Landis on a ladder cleaning bird muck off the Eros statue in Piccadilly Circus after everyone else had refused to do so. The props were immense too with some of the transformational mechanical features, which helped win an Academy Award, not only displayed but actually switched on, which was brilliant.
Anyway, eventually our group were led off to see the film in the Zoo's Mappin Pavilion right by the (in)famous bench, although not before I had a chance to chat with Dan from Cine-Vue and his film composer friend, Sam. Hello, if you're reading. Now, they were merrily drinking away but weren't causing a fuss. Unfortunately, the same can't be said about a certain couple who were just really, really awful people. Thankfully but somewhat ridiculously, they would later leave halfway through the screening.
The less said about them, the better. So onwards. Prior to the film starting, we had some "high-end cinema snacks" with offerings ranging from falafal to fish and chips. I had the mini bangers and mash. Not bad at all. We also had an unexpected preview of a documentary feature from Paul Davis about 'An American Werewolf In London', supplemented by a brief Q&A. All very informative and I hope to check out Paul's documentary 'Beware The Moon' which is a special feature on the DVD and Blu-ray of 'An American Werewolf In London'.
As for the film itself, I don't think I really need to say much more than it's a classic and Halloween really is the perfect time to watch it. Although two notes - I never realised Rik Mayall was in the film and Jenny Agutter is even more beautiful when projected. So thanks Volkswagen, thanks London Zoo, and special thanks Will. It was a wonderful opportunity to see a film in a location where it had been filmed - hopefully the first of many great events.
Volkswagen support independent cinema. See Film Differently. For more info, go to facebook.com/seefilmdifferently.