An American Werewolf in Paris

(Anthony Waller, UK/US/Luxemburg/Netherlands/France, 1997)


Director Anthony Waller clearly has an animus against Americans – especially American tourists.

His Mute Witness (1995) sent the Russian Mafia out to massacre the members of an American film crew. And in the dismal An American Werewolf in Paris, Waller reserves his cruellest, most grotesque gags for a dumb Yankee tourist who finds herself transformed, for no good reason, into a werewolf – complete with huge gashes all over her face and body.

It seems a lifetime since John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London (1981) impressed horror movie buffs with its wit and inventiveness. Landis himself could not successfully recapture the gruesome charm of his original in Innocent Blood (1992). Waller’s film again tries to stir the old brew, with its ingredients of vulgar teenage high jinks, ripe gore and a vein of pop culture humour concerning innocents abroad.

Andy (Tom Everett Scott) leads a couple of buddies around Paris in pursuit of Serafine (Julie Delpy) – a sad, angelic, haunted vision. He stumbles upon a colony of vicious, modern-day vampires who masquerade as grungy, goth-crazed clubbers. Soon, Andy himself has gone over to the "other side", and faces the usual dilemmas of which friends and enemies to take with him – all the while searching for the magic means of reversing these rampant transformations.

Every single element in this film misfires hopelessly. The juvenile humour has no infectious spark. The loud action set-pieces are unexciting, despite the battery of elaborate special-effects processes. The convoluted plot is a bore. Any average episode of Forever Knight on television handles a very similar premise with far greater economy and aplomb.

The most mind-boggling aspect of this instantly forgettable movie is the presence of Delpy. The actress who once stood up to Kieslowski on set for his narrow, male-centred view of sexual relations must here perform such memorable gestures as plastering the hero’s hands on her naked breasts, while helpfully explaining to him: “This will relax you.”

© Adrian Martin January 1998

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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