New Marvel mini-movie Werewolf by Night pays homage to the great creature features from the past, but director Michael Giacchino says horror classic An American Werewolf in London was his biggest influence.
An American Werewolf in London hit screens in 1981, and immediately changed the film industry, thanks to its use of incredible practical make-up effects, and also the movie’s combination of comedy with hardcore gore.
Written and directed by John Landis, the film has influenced the likes of Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson, and Edgar Wright.
Werewolf by Night hits streaming on October 7, and also combines horror with laughs. But while talking about the film at a Fantastic Fest screening this week, director Michael Giancchino revealed that the Landis werewolf – which was created by Rick Baker – directly influenced the look of his wolf-man.
The Influence of An American Werewolf in London
“One of the things I loved about Werewolf of London was that you could actually see the actor’s face and you could see the eyes,” Giacchino explained. “It wasn’t buried beneath a bunch of stuff. It didn’t turn into just a wolf – it still kept the human qualities.
“I think that was very important – for me to say that behind this thing that we call a monster, is a person with feelings. Somebody who is dealing with an issue that’s very tough to deal with. None of these monsters want to be monsters – none of them want that.
“These are all basically people who need help, and the world is always against them. You can only imagine what that must be like to be in a situation where the world looks at you as a monster, but you yourself know you are not.”
How the Twilight Zone influenced Werewolf at Night
During the post-screening Q&A, Giacchino listed other horror sub-genres that influenced his film, name-checking the Universal monster movies of the 1940s, the Japanese creature features of the 1950s, and the Hammer horror movies of the 1960s.
But TV show The Twilight Zone was also a big one, with the director revealing that he told his cast and crew to think of the movie as an episode of the series; one that explores a single night in the life of protagonists Jack and Elsa.
“It’s a love letter to all of those things,” he concluded. “For all the inspiration they gave me over the years.”