American Werewolf in London... Zoo

Site specific cinema is all the rage these days, so who were we to turn down a chance to watch a screening of John Landis's horror classic in one of the principal filming locations?
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Site specific cinema is all the rage these days, so who were we to turn down a chance to watch a screening of John Landis's horror classic in one of the principal filming locations?

Going to the cinema can be a bit of a bleak experience I find. I mean, it’s fine and everything once you get in there and the film starts (unless of course your chosen film happens to have Matthew McConaughey in it) but it’s more the bits that happen along the way that can be upsetting. For me, an average trip to my local multiplex generally involves: horrible looking carpets; horrible looking people; a cloying stench of popcorn, sweat and fear; and an argument about whether my expired university library card constitutes a valid form of student ID. This is all quite a lot of unpleasantness to go through for the privilege of paying 13 quid to watch some bullshit Hollywood remake.

In response to this we’ve seen the rise of ‘site-specific cinema’ in recent years with events like Secret Cinema and The Film4 Summer Screenings taking films out of the movie theatres and screening them in interesting and unexpected places. The latest of these was Volkswagen’s ‘See Film Differently’ campaign which shows classic movies in the locations they were filmed in. Last week, The Sabotage Times went along to see American Werewolf in London, John Landis’s 1981 horror classic about, um, an American Werewolf in London. The film was screened after hours in London Zoo, one of the key locations from the film, and the event also featured a tour of the zoo, a talk about the making of the film, and an exhibition of original props, stills and sketches used in the production. And booze, lots and lots of free booze.

Whenever I revisit an old 80’s classic all I can concentrate on are the glaring homoerotic overtones.

This was all done, apparently, with the aim of encouraging us to buy cars although I’m not really sure how effective that’s going to be. I don’t know, there’s something I find a little bit naff about this ‘branded content’ stuff. It kind of reminds me of the kid at school who was really bad at sport but whose parents bought him all the most expensive kit to try to make up for it. This one, however, was pretty good - thanks mainly to the comedy zookeeper they’d hired to guide us around.

And what of the film? What of the actual film? Well, I hadn’t actually seen it all the way through before. I’d seen about 15 minutes when I was 8 (before my mum caught me and made me turn it off) and found it absolutely terrifying. Watching it again 20 years later I mainly found it funny and very very camp. This has been happening a lot recently; whenever I revisit an old 80’s classic – Rambo, The Warriors, even Terminator a bit – all I can concentrate on are the glaring homoerotic overtones. Was the 1980’s essentially just a gay decade? Or is this a phenomenon that applies to all popular culture after a certain amount of time? Will people be watching The Wire in 20 years time and chuckling to themselves about how much of an overblown camp stereotype Avon Barksdale is?

This all added to the atmosphere however and the audience, already in high spirits from the booze and the fact that we were ‘in a zoo! We’re literally in a zoo!!’ mainly just giggled our way through the entire evening. Volkswagen is planning more of these events in the upcoming months (details on their website) so it’s worth keeping a look out as it’s a very fun night out. Can’t quite see it shifting many Golf Turbos though..

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