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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I always liked seeing these on other boards. Tallee has one on his (at least I think he still does; it's been awhile since I've made an appearance. :eek: ) This is how it is played: Two films are up for consideration as to which are the better of the two. THIS IS A THREAD FOR SERIOUS DISCUSSION OF SAID MOVIES; ergo, such "arguments" as "So and so a movie is boring" with nothing else added to support that claim, or the worst, "That flick sucks," once again with no backing arguement is an invalid answer and will be treated as such.

I hope to do a series of maybe twelve such mathces and when the discussion runs out, I will post two more and the winner of each posting will move on to a semi-final stage until we have it narrowed down to just two movies in the final and crown an undisputed champeen.

Sound like fun? It is; and hopefully since we're all Horror buffs here on the board we'll all participate.

Here's the first two victims. I decided to make the first one real easy. There has been a dispute for many years which of the two is the better and what better place than Unpleasant Street to bring this argument.

An American Werewolf in London vs. The Howling

You guys sink your teeth into this duo of lycanthropy classics and lets have a good time with it!
 

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Not to worry, Sin - I'll get right on this just as soon as I get a chance. Only not right now. I've just driven the length and breadth of the state of Florida and I'm just not up to it now. It's the witching hour here (assuming the witching hour is midnight). BTW, the winner is going to be the British film. I'm not breaking the rules by saying that, am I?
 

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It's been a while since I last saw the Howling because, well, I disliked it. I'll have to rent it again to give it a fair comparison to An American Werewolf in London without just saying "The Howling sucks".
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I guess I'll start the festivities off then. Both movies should be watched for sheer entertainment purposes only and take each film for whatever merits they might have. Do either have a great storyline? No. but both are a feast for the eyes. It's interesting to note that Rick Baker did the SFX for An American Werewolf in London whilst The Howling chores were handled by his protege, Rob Bottin. For these two cinematic wizard's works alone are they worth a viewing. The acting was a bit better in AAWIL than it was in Joe Dante's outing and John Landis is a better director overall; however, there's one scene in The Howling that is head and shoulders above the rest of the movies of its ilk that have come before or since. The transformation of Robert Picardo is by far the best transformation scene ever IMHO. When that scene reached its climax, Picardo's character Eddie Quist looks EXACTLY like what I've always pictured a lycanthrope to look like. David Naughton's werewolf looked more like a rabid grizzly bear. Baker is one of the premiere make-up EFX artists in Hollywood, but I believe that he was outdone by Bottin in this case.

To sum up my choice, The Howling by a slight margin. By contrast, two of my more modern day werewolf favorites Ginger Snaps and Dog Soldiers both have better storylines, but in no way come close to competing in the EFX department with the other aforementioned movies. It would be something to see if they had more of a budget to hand to someone like Baker, Bottin, Tom Savini, Screamin' Mad George or Greg Nicotero to do the SFX then I don't believe that either movie in the first competition would have had a prayer in acting, storyline or effects.

The Howling: 1 An American Werewolf in London: 0
 

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I rented The Howling today, and I think I'll watch both this week so I can have fresh thoughts on them both to post about.
 

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A feast for the eyes, they are. However, "The Howling" has always been, to put it vulgarly, the poor man's "American Werewolf". "American" outdoes it in every possible way: ambience, storyline, acting, directing, and let's not forget sheer terror - and that's not even to mention the famous "competing transformation" scenes. I have always thought that "American's" transmogrification was slightly better than "Howling's" (I believe we have had this discussion before), not to suggest that "Howling's" modification from man to beast wasn't one of the best I've seen.

I won't argue that, perhaps, "Howling's" actual werewolf may have been somewhat more frightening, but that's because "American's" he-wolf was supposed to be that way! It was a black comedy as much as a horror film, and the part was played to perfection. We sympathized with David Naughton's character, and we really cared about all these characters. And they're more memorable to me to this day than the hodge-podge of dramatis which appeared in "Howling". Remember, too often Hollywood has sacrificed storytelling on the altar of special effects. Get us to care, and that's half the battle.

Last, I'll just say that this film was a first for me. Growing up in the buckle of the bible belt (and the sticks, at that!), I wasn't exactly brought up on horror films, and, in 1981 as a fifteen year old innocent lad I marveled at this strangely wonderful film which had been popped into the old betamax by my cousin (who had been out in the world and had experienced such wonders!). There's nothing quite like a foggy night shot of the English moors to the strain of the crooning of "Blue Moon" - brilliant! It frightened me, it invigorated me, and it gave me cause to dream. That's what great films do.

"The Howling" - 1
"An American Werewolf in London" - 1

We got us a ballgame!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
With both Landis' film and Dante's, I found myself appreciative of all the references to the moon and lycanthropy in general. Landis preferring to use all the music that had to do with the moon (he couldn't get Bob Seger's Shame on the Moon and to this day, I don't know why) while Dante had everything that had to do with Werewolves including having the great Forrest J. Ackerman make a cameo. Neither story was what I call terrible, it's just that they weren't the main focus of the film. It's a pity that each film's sequel ( and The Howling's subsequent SERIES of them) were ****ing awful! A black mark indeed to two of the most groundbreaking films of the genre at the time. In time I'm sure each of the original film's will be remade. The Howling was rumoured to be on the remake road as early as last summer and I'm sure someone right now as I type this is thinking about what sort of treatment to give An American Werewolf in London. If they want to do a remake, snatch up each and every one of the sequels and get a canny screenwriter and director to give them a real going over. Leave the other two alone; they're fine just the way they are.
 

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Ok, now that I've recently re-watched The Howling, I feel I can add to this little battle now.

I agree that both movies advanced special effects quite a bit in terms of what could be done with latex. The techniques used in both movies still look pretty amazing even when compared with some of the rather fake-looking CG effects of today.

Another good aspect of both was the casting away of some of the traditional werewolf folklore. Some of the typical associations with werewolves were just too overplayed by this point in time and it was nice to see a few different approaches to this time-honored monster.

Now on to the real "meat" of my comparison.

The Howling

I personally find The Howling to be a movie that bores me to tears. It starts out in a somewhat abrupt fashion with a backstory involving the main character and her recently having been contacted by a local killer for a "chance" meeting in a nudie bar. I feel as though there should have been a little more background on that whole situation, as the whole thing is revealed to us a bit by bit through somewhat vague conversations between secondary characters or through newspaper clippings.

Another minus for The Howling is the lack of one single interesting character. I don't identify with any of these people and I can't find one single unique trait in any of them that distinguishes one character from the next. That may be due in part to some half-assed acting, or just from a lackluster script. I can't quite put my finger on which it is.

I also wish the whole "werewolf underworld" was explored some more. We just get a small glimpse of the society, leaving me feeling a bit teased.

I could also have done without the "cartoon werewolf" sequence. You know, where Bill is getting down with Marsha by the campfire and their silhouettes transform, by way of animation, into full-blown wolves? Which brings me to...

Inconsistent werewolves. In one scene the wolf looks very wolvish, in another they tend to look like a mix of man and wolf and in the final scene, we get the "poofy-faced wolf". Show some consistency man!

The pacing is just bad to boot. The flick jumps ahead without reason a few times. Add to that a soundtrack that just doesn't sync with what's going on and you have a poorly blocked out movie.

Call this blasphemy if you want, but I'd take the second movie in this series over the original any day of the week. It's no good movie by any stretch of the imagination, but if both were the only thing on TV, I'd be watching the sequel for sure.

An American Werewolf in London

In my humblest of opinions, this movie succeeds in every aspect the Howling failed. I was able to identify with the characters and even care about their destiny in some small way. The events move along at a pace that doesn't drag, keeping a good mix of werewolf action and daylight antics.

The addition of humor into the mix works very well too, which is a little surprising, given the subject matter. This is most evident in Jack's witty exchanges (from beyond the grave) with David, as well as in the choice in music for many of the scenes.

The only thing I can fault this movie for is the weird Nazi-demon dream sequence. It just feels very out of place and is completely unnecessary to the advancement of the story. It's as if it was just thrown in there haphazardly to fill out a couple of minutes.

So, add one to the An American Werewolf in London score.

An American Werewolf in London - 2
The Howling - 1
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
There may be a real solid reason for the script to The Howling being lackluster. I don't really recommend it, but if you ever read the book, it makes the movie seem like an Academy Award Winner.

I still stand by my love of the films effects. The "wolves" were in various stages of transformation (I suspect you're speaking of the Slim Pickens and Don McLeod scenes) and I will give you the Pomeranian transformation; any solid ground the film stood upon up to that point was blown right out of the water.

And I will scream BLASPHEMY!!! for that remark about the second one being better than the first. :D

An American Werewolf in London fails also in one other place: The end made David Kessler seem that his beast form was sentient at least in some way when it came to his not outright mauling the Jenny Agutter character Alex to death just for sheer malice. If he "attacked" because he saw it as the perfect way to end the curse, then his other victims were murdered in cold-blood as opposed to "carnivorous lunar activities," when the beast supposedly takes full reign.

I agree that the Nazi sequence seemed like filler. I believe they messed around too long on all that dreaming crap when there could have been more red massacre.

AAWIL is ahead by 1 vote. I'm going to leave this battle for these two flicks up a few more days then we'll move on to another pairing. Good points all Spaulding and Z, hope we can pick up some more folks on the way.
 
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