American Werewolf Remake Lands Writer

The Weinstein brothers have hired Fernley Phillips, the writer of The Number 23, to pen the screenplay for a remake of An American Werewolf in London, John Landis’ classic werewolf horror/comedy, reports The Los Angeles Times.

Dimension Films is said to be looking to give the new movie a “modern spin” and that the new movie will reportedly be a departure from the original film. Further details are scarce at this point but with the hiring of a writer, look for production on this remake to kick into high gear in the coming year.

The Buzz: I have definite mixed feelings about this project. An American Werewolf in London is one of my favorite movies of all time — a film that defined my childhood and helped shape my sensibilities and taste. That said, I will be the first to admit that the movie is not perfect.

While I’m open to the idea of a remake, I’m not so sure I’m ready to hug the Weinstein brothers, who seem to be producing their film purely for commercial reasons. It seems the brothers are hoping to cash in on the growing trend of young people turning into monsters and I’m sure the appeal of slapping a well-known brand title onto some PG-13 CGI cheesefest seems attractive.

There are a few things that need to happen for a remake of An American Werewolf in London to be successful. First, it needs to retain the proper balance of humor and scares. The LA Times article that broke this story paints the original film as a broad, laugh-a-minute comedy. While there were lots of great jokes (“A naked American man stole my balloons.”), there were also an equal number of genuine scares. Think more Scream than Shaun of the Dead. If you want to go more for the humor, I have no problem with that — just don’t make it a spoof or farce. That will make me mad … and you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

Second, there needs to be a real concentrated push on making some of the special effects practical. I’m all for using CGI in the film — especially when enhancing the final werewolf’s appearance — but there is a reason why Rick Baker’s transformation scene from the original stands the test of time and still remains the single best werewolf transformation scene put to film. What ever you do, don’t do morphs.

Finally, please don’t sexy this film up. The original worked thanks to the likable everyman personality of the cast. An American Werewolf in Paris attempted to ratchet up the hotness of the cast to, let’s say, unfortunate results. I realize the temptation might exist to hire some Taylor Lautner lookalike for the main role — that way they can show off their abs every time they take off their shirt and transform — but please hire for acting ability first, physical appearance second.

If the producers of the American Werewolf in London remake follow these rules, they could actually have a film that is able to stand side by side with the original — and really, shouldn’t that be the only reason why you’d want to remake a classic?

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