Blu-Ray Review – American Werewolf in Paris

An American Werewolf in London was a successful film in the cinema, and even more so on video, where it developed a big cult following. But while I like John Landis’s early films, I never quite got the greatness of his werewolf film—especially since Joe Dante’s far superior and more subversive take on the genre, The Howling, came out at around the same time. The Paris-based sequel went into development around 1991, but took six years to be released. Landis had already left the project as writer/director when it finally got the greenlight.

It’s a story of three really obnoxious bros who are on a trip through Europe, finally arriving in Paris. They are daring each other to do stupid stunts, and this time the protagonist, Andy McDermott (Tom Everett Scott), is supposed to bungee jump from the Eiffel Tower after it shuts (which is 11pm in the real world). However, what actually happens is that Andy (who is the “smart one” of the three bros) ends up jumping to rescue the cute French intellectual dreamgirl of his dreams, Serafine (Julie Delpy), when she throws herself off the tower. He succeeds, but she disappears in the night. He soon finds out where she lives, but of course she has a deep dark secret… she is a werewolf.

The film is rotten to its core. Pretty much from the get go, it’s a needless sequel to a film that was overpraised in the first place. The CGI is some of the worst I’ve seen from any film from the ‘90s, which is saying something. The werewolves are completely CGI creations, which is the polar opposite of the original’s best feature: the much-celebrated physical makeup transformation by Rick Baker. The werewolves look like something from a circa-1998 PlayStation game. The film also uses some of the worst green screen I’ve ever seen: the bungee jump off the Eiffel Tower and another at the end of the theatrical cut from another world-famous landmark is just laughable, and the Hi-Def presentation didn’t help.

It has the loosest connection to the original film imaginable, and given that I haven’t seen the original in a decade, it was entirely lost on me. The acting is atrocious, other than the hilarious Julie Delpy, an exceptional actress. It’s shame that she had to sink this low to pay her rent (she has admitted that was the only reason she signed on to the film.) She does bring an air of sophistication to a film that doesn’t deserve any. Delphy is interviewed in the special features, and you feel sorry for her having to lie through her teeth about how great it was making the film—it’s a great performance.

Anthony Waller directed it, and besides a couple more features he hasn’t worked in nearly ten years. n the basis of An American Werewolf in Paris, it’s not hard to imagine why. The film is pretty ineptly directed, and for the most part looks like a bad ‘90s TV movie of the week. It lacks any atmosphere, which is where the difference between film and TV should be apparent. The theatrical ending is anti-climatic, and involves a bungee jump. The alternative ending is a bit better, but is ripped off from a million other horror films and has more of that awful ‘90s CGI.

Despite everything, Turbine has given the film an undeserved re-release. It includes both the theatrical version and a workprint. The theatrical is in better shape qualitywise, but the workprint ending is superior. It includes a “making of” featurette that is over an hour long, alongside about 20 minutes of interviews. It comes in a beautifully designed mediabook with a DVD of the film and even a frame from a print of the film.

Ian Schultz

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