TBT – Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

animation, British, Helena Bonham Carter, TBT, werewolf

I wasn’t sure what to think about Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie. I had such a nostalgic love of the television series that I didn’t want it spoilt by some misguided attempt to milk it for all it was worth. That’s the problem with nostalgia. It really fucks up the future because nothing will ever be as good as it was the first time. I loved my childhood but I’m not one of those people who continually feels the need to revisit it. Quite frankly, it was more embarrassing than idyllic and I can’t go through that again. I guess I’m one of those people that believes the past is in the past. It’s why I’m the worst kind of Harry Potter fan. I’ll always love the books but I’ll probably not read them over and over again until the day I die. I don’t need to read them again to relive them or the feeling I had when I first read them. To be honest, I just don’t trust nostalgia, which is why I normally try to avoid big movie comebacks of things I loved when I was younger. However, I have the joy and the misfortune to be friends with people who continue to force me to face my fears.

I remember the first time I saw The Curse of the Were-Rabbit: it was with my school friends and they were way more excited about it than I was. I left the cinema feeling slightly deflated because it just hadn’t felt the same. I didn’t hate it by any means but it wasn’t as much as I remembered. As a kid I loved nothing more than watching Wallace and Gromit and used to indulge in them over every major holiday when the BBC would play them pretty much non-stop. As an adult, I just felt some of that magic was missing. Although, through my disappointment, I can’t deny that I still loved the feeling of the seeing the dynamic duo on the big screen and it is so delightfully British.

That is what makes Wallace and Gromit so fucking refreshing. They are so iconic and familiar yet so quirky. A pair who get into all sorts of unbelievable scrapes but who solve it all over a cup of tea and some cheese. It’s always been a fantastic concept and everything about their previous outings suggested that a jump to the cinema screen would be great. And, to be honest, it really was. I’ve watched the film a few times since it’s original release and I can’t help but love it a bit more every time. It’s so well made and so hard to dislike. 
In this scenario the duo own a pest control service who protect the allotments of those villagers hoping to win big at the annual Giant Vegetable Competition at Tottington Hall. Things are going great until Wallace has the bright idea to use his latest invention to change the nature of the rabbits in the hope that they will no longer pose a threat to people’s crops. Of course, this being classic Wallace and Gromit, this all goes tits up and, without giving much away, a giant bunny rabbit starts terrorising the village at night. It is up to the pair to deal with the situation humanely before the trigger-happy hunter, Lord Victor Quartermaine (Ralph Fiennes), shoots the poor thing. 
All the while, Wallace must battle with Victor to win the heart of Lady Tottington (Helen Bonham Carter) who entrusts Anti-Pesto to save the competition that her family have been running for hundreds of years. The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is a silly concept for a film but it never goes too far with it. The silliness never comes in the way of narrative and everything happens for a reason. It’s a fantastic story that references all the greatest elements of classic Hollywood. With parodies ranging from King Kong to Hammer horror, it is a film that understands cinematic history. The Curse of the Were-Rabbit understands its place within the film industry and has fun telling its story. 
It was, of course, created by the British animation studio, Aardman Animations, and utilises the amazing stop motion animation that they have become so famous for. Of course, it was funded with the help of Dreamworks which means that the both the budget and the running time are bigger than the shorts we’re so used to. As such, the film is jam-packed with sight gags and endless puns that will have your groaning but still grinning. The film’s bigger sequences are fantastic and the final showdown is incredible memorable and silly. It’s a completely indulgent and entertaining treat. Yes, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is silly and nostalgic but it’s a complete delight. After all, it wouldn’t be the same without a good helping of cheese, Gromit. 

TBT – An American Werewolf in London (1981)

comedy, fucking funny, Halloween, John Landis, TBT, werewolf

mv5bzgnmywqzmgetndlhms00nzewltkzmditmdq4mjkymzrknjfixkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymtqxnzmzndi40._v1_It’s Halloween this week and, to be honest, I don’t really give a fuck about this holiday. I’ve never really got it. The whole sexy costumes thing just confuses me. My favourite Halloween costume to date was my first year of uni when I went as Christine the demon car from the Stephen King novel. It was amazing, even if I do say so myself. I made a license plate, wore furry dice and taped torches to my legs as headlights. Fucking amazing. Now I’m not saying I hate Halloween because of my leanings towards homemade costumes. It’s just that I lack the artistic skills to make it look like something that wasn’t made by a fucking child. I’m all for any excuse to go out drinking but I dislike having to jump through certain fancy dress hoops to get there. I’d rather stay home and watch The Nightmare Before Christmas on repeat.

After all, I’m not a massive lover of horror films. I don’t rush to see films that are desperate to make scare the bejesus out of me every 5 seconds, Making me jump out of my seat is just a waste of good popcorn. Anything that doesn’t have a sense of humour with it’s method of scaring an audience is just not on my radar. Although, as I’ve discussed before, I love a good silly horror. So much so that I reference An American Werewolf in London in everyday conversation way more than I think is necessary. I fucking love it. As a proud Yorkshire lass, that might have something to do with the fact that the film’s first act takes place in God’s own county.

John Landis’ 1981 comedy-horror introduces us to young Americans David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) as they embark on a backpacking tour of England. Stumbling across some creepy moors in the North, they find themselves taking refuge in The Slaughtered Lamb: a local pub for local people. After upsetting the pub’s patrons the pair soon become lost in the wilderness. Suffice it to say, it doesn’t end well. With Jack killed, supposedly by an escaped lunatic, David wakes up in a London hospital being nursed back to health by Alex (Jenny Agutter) and having crazy visions. Being visited by a quickly decomposing Jack, David discovers that he was bitten by a werewolf and will become an unstoppable monster at the next full moon. The only option, Jack reveals, is for his friend to kill himself.

So far, it sounds like a standard horror film but, thanks to John Landis’ script, American Werewolf is so much more. It’s fucking funny and takes shots at so many horror movie staples. He also lovingly takes the piss out of British customs. For such a simple narrative, the story manages to be fun. There are the usual Landis in-jokes and cameos to keep long-standing fans happy. The story is deceptively simple but is clever enough to have ensured the film has stood the test of time. There are moments when it starts to feel as though things are falling apart but there is something to endearing about the film. It’s easy to see why it became a cult classic.

Yes, this may not be the best film Landis has ever made. It’s no Blue Brothers but it’s still a film to get excited about. Even now, some 30 years later, the transformation scene is still fucking impressive. It’s both funny and disturbing in equal measure. Rick Baker’s effects throughout the film were outstanding at the time and, though they may seem rather quaint in this day and age, they are still fucking awesome. Watching the change in Dunne as his character becomes more and more haggard is a weird joy. It’s my second favourite part of the film: the best being the totally awkward and really fucking 80s sex scene between David and Alex. It’s a cold hard fact that Jenny Agutter was a fucking babe back in the day. She’s a stone cold fox but it’s one of the least tantalising things I’ve ever seen. We’ve seen it time and time again but sex was less sexy in the 80s. Still, it’s hard not to love Agutter as she runs through misty London trying to stop David. This film is worth a look for her alone.

American Werewolf isn’t the most fleshed out film you’ll ever see nor is it the most intelligent. It sets up the plot and then rushes towards an end without any real closure. The love story has no real depth and the character’s are fairly underdeveloped. That being said, it’s still a fucking great film and one I will always watch. It’s a B movie that also manages to be technically amazing. Who could ask for more?