John Landis Brings His Iconic ‘American Werewolf in London’ to Halloween Horror Nights
Griffin Dunne and David Naughton in 'An American Werewolf In London' (Photo: REX USA)
Fans of a certain horror classic are in for a treat at Universal Studios this fall as filmmaker John Landis and creative director Mike Aiello bring "An American Werewolf in London" to Halloween Horror Nights.
"American Werewolf" is the latest in a series of movie-themed mazes featured at Universal's annual Halloween season attraction, which turns the normally friendly-family theme park into an almost post-apocalyptic land of terror, where guests walk amongst chainsaw-wielding maniacs and other ghouls as they embark on a Halloween adventure they'll never forget.
This year's Horror Nights will feature mazes based on "Insidious," "The Cabin in the Woods" and even "Curse of Chucky," but "An American Werewolf in London" is Aiello's personal favorite ... indeed, bringing the game-changing 1981 horror comedy to life has been something of a passion project that's taken several years to realize.
"The notion of creating a maze for 'An American Werewolf in London' is something that we've been wanting to do for a long, long time," said Aiello in a phone conference with Yahoo! Movies and other outlets this week. "We'd actually tried a couple of times before but this year the planets aligned and we were able to do this. Out of all the mazes — the ones we've announced so far and the ones we have yet to announce — this one is for me and the team probably the closest to a passion project that we could possibly get with all the content this year."
Indeed, Aiello is a self-professed fanboy of the film, which is perhaps most notable for its astonishing transformation scene in which David Kessler (David Naughton) slowly — and painfully — transforms into a wolf, courtesy of makeup and effects whiz Rick Baker and his team.
"'American Werewolf' is a film that me and the design team watch at least once a year," said Aiello. "It's resonated for me for years, since I was a kid — it ranks right up there with the classic monster movies."
In order to create the most authentic "American Werewolf" experience possible, Aiello turned to the man with the highest authority on the subject: director John Landis.
"John was here with us for a four- or five-hour brainstorming session where we took him through a CG version of the maze as we had designed it originally," said Aiello. "John challenged us on some of the items that we were considering and actually moved us into other avenues that we hadn't even considered. It was a great creative session that we had with John and his involvement from that point has been very consistent and amazing."
Director John Landis (Photo by Tim Whitby/Getty Images)
"It's a very peculiar and specific discipline," said Landis, sounding genuinely excited. "First of all, it's a theatrical event, an all-immersive theatrical event. It's very different from a film. What I hadn't considered before sitting down with the team was they have these practical realities of getting a certain number of people through, and just the logistics of the whole thing is complicated."