The American Werewolf in London New Beverly Q&A


Baker and company come out for double-feature

Last night, the New Beverly here in Los Angeles hosted a double-feature bill of An American Werewolf In London along with the documentary Beware The Moon: Remembering An American Werewolf In London, which was making its U.S. premiere exclusively for this screening.

In between the two features, invited Beware The Moon director/writer/producer Paul Davis, producer Romy Alford-Sancto and American Werewolf alumni George Folsey (producer), Rick Baker (special FX), Tom Hester (special FX) and Les Dilley (art director) up to the front to field some questions about both films for a special Q&A session. Below you’ll find the complete transcript of that Q & A for all of those that couldn’t be there. Enjoy! For all the American Werewolf alumni, how long has it been since you’ve seen this movie and how’d it feel to see it play with an audience all these years later?

George Folsey: It was great to be here and have you all be so enthusiastic about it. All the laughs still work pretty well. The scares work really well. So it’s very encouraging to see that. It’s been about three years since I’ve seen it, but this is very encouraging tonight.

Rick Baker: I actually haven’t seen this in quite a while, and I’m surprised that they gave an Oscar to the guy that did those shitty make-ups. [laughs] It was a long time ago though, but Tom [Hester] and Bill [Sturgeon], they were my crew and they were kids. We didn’t know what the hell we were doing. We were just making this stuff up as we went along and…it shows! How about you Tom? When’d you see it last?

Tom Hester: I think it’s probably 10 years ago, maybe 15? It’s been a long time.

Les Dilley: I think it’s about the same for me. I don’t sit home and watch it every week. [laughs]

Folsey: I just want to say one quick comment about Rick Baker’s work. A few years ago I got a call from a famous costume designer Ann Roth and she said, “Guess what I just got to do all day?” And I said, “What’s that, Ann?” “Well Mick Nichols and Jack Nicolson and I have spent an entire day in the screening room watching the transformation scene in An American Werewolf In London.” I thought, “That sounded like a nice way to spend the day, Ann.” And she said, “The reason we did it is we were trying to decide whether we would do a transformation scene in Wolf. And spending a day watching every frame from that transformation, we decided forget it. We’re not doing this. Forget it.” So what a tribute to Rick Baker, for 15-20 years after American Werewolf that they decided that they couldn’t compete with this. My hat off to Rick.

Baker: Actually, I think the reason was I did Wolf, I actually did that film. And they looked at that transformation and thought “We don’t want that guy to do another crappy transformation.” I don’t think you should ask us a lot of questions because everything is covered in this documentary [Beware The Moon]. I’ve seen this and Paul did an amazing job on this thing. He knows this film better then I do, better then anyone. So I don’t know that we should do too many questions about it.

Shock: How’d you guys feel when Paul Davis first approached you about participating in this project, because he was shooting it completely independently and as a labor of love. So how’d you feel when this kid approached you to do this?

Folsey: John Landis and I talked about it and he thought this guy was okay.

Paul Davis: Really?

Folsey: Well, yeah! [John]’s not always right about everything. But we agreed to do it and help him. You know, honestly we did very little. I think Paul and Romy [Alford-Sancto] did all the work.

Baker: I thought “Oh boy, another guy that wants to talk to me about this movie?” [laughs] If I would’ve known he was so tall, I probably wouldn’t have done it. I could tell when he was asking me the questions, this guy knew this movie better then anybody. So I just hoped he’d do an okay job. I was really impressed when he showed me a rough cut, it made me dig through my attic and through wherever I could find and I found some old never before seen VHS footage of us testing the werewolf which he later added to this.

Shock: Paul, why don’t you tell us the origins of this project for you, because if I recall correctly, you wrote a retrospective article about An American Werewolf In London for “Horror Hound” Magazine?

Davis: Yeah, that was the beginning. I saw American Werewolf when I was three years old. I love my parents. I was a Michael Jackson fan and I saw “The Making Of Thriller.” And when that came out on VHS, obviously there’s this little sequence where John [Landis] and Michael are talking about An American Werewolf In London and him really liking that and that was his inspiration for wanting to turn into a monster. When I saw “The Making Of Thriller,” John and Rick were the first two people I knew of that worked in the industry, they were filmmakers. Because you saw all the behind the scenes stuff and you saw how they made the monster, I could then watch anything and love it as a kid. So I saw American Werewolf In London very shortly afterwards, and it stayed with me every since.

But it wasn’t until 1998, I saw a retrospective documentary on The Exorcist that the BBC made and it made me fall in love with The Exorcist all over again as an adult. Because I’d

seen it as a kid…I was nine. Seriously, there’s no surprises what I saw as a kid. It made me fall in love with that film again, and it really impressed me and I thought one day I would love to do a really in depth documentary on a movie I loved. I did this article for “Horror Hound” back in 2006 and that’s when the light bulb went off. I thought “An American Werewolf In London, shot in our backyard. If I don’t do it, somebody else will.”

Now, having spoken to John and all these guys, nobody probably would have. But that’s where the idea hatched from and I spoke to [producer] Romy [Alford-Sancto] and I said “I really want to do this thing. Do you want to help me out?” And she came on board as a producer and I started working on the script, the very skeletal backbone of what I wanted to do with it, which completely changed by the time we got to the end of it. And then we just got in touch with everybody and went to all the locations, which Romy did all the work there. She got us permission to shoot everywhere. What you’re about to see, we practically matched every shot – all the stuff where I’m hosting and narrating it, we matched every shot from the movie that we could where I am on location. So it was a lot of hours. The opening piece which is about a minute and a half long took 30 takes. We were in the middle of the Black Mountains in Whales and seriously I could not get it right once. I don’t think it’s even right in the finished thing, but it was too cold, so we said “carry on.” It was a lot of work but we love this film so much, and that’s what we wanted to do.

We wanted to make something as fans for fans. That’s the reason we chose the New Beverly to show this, because where else are we going to get the better film fans in LA? Oh that, and in 2007, John Landis was up here with Edgar Wright – Edgar Wright showed American Werewolf during his picks for The Wright Stuff and I listened to the Q&A, and somebody in the crowd asked about this fan “stalkumentary” as Landis refers to it. And he said, “Well, it’s never going to see the light of day.” John is the reason this thing has come out. He literally pushed Universal into getting this thing to the finish line and we absolutely love him. Again, these guys and John. Big thank you to Romy for all of her hard work. And to Ray and Juliana, Romy’s parents, they’ve always been very, very supportive. And to our cameraman and editor Anthony Bueno who sadly can’t be here this evening because he’s making his own documentary project and is probably stalking Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray as we speak. We really appreciate this fantastic turn out, for these people to make it out, and to see the film with you guys is special for us. There was one moment while watching that that really made my heart feel heavy and you will know when the documentary plays, and its all because you guys applauded at the end (of the transformation) and it just made me feel so great to these people for making it happen and we can all still enjoy it nearly 30 years later. It’s amazing. Thank you.

An American Werewolf In London: Full Moon Edition is in stores today and features the Beware The Moon documentary.

Source: Robert Galluzzo