Super Mates 107: House of Franklin-Stein Part 3

Beware the moon! Chris and Cindy have a howling good time discussing the 1981 John Landis classic An American Werewolf in London, starring David Naughton, Jenny Agutter and Griffin Dunne, and featuring groundbreaking effects by Rick Baker!

There’s another lycanthrope on the prowl in Amazing Spider-Man #124-125, when J. Jonah Jameson’s son goes furry as the macabre Man-Wolf!

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Clip credits:

An American Werewolf in London (1981) directed by John Landis, music by Elmer Bertstein

Amazing Spider-Man TV Series (1977) Theme (Season 2) by Dana Kaproff. Amazing Spider-Man TV Series (1977)  Pilot Theme by Johnnie Spence

Power Records The Amazing Spider-Man “Mark of the Man-Wolf”

“The House of Franklinstein” by Terry O’Malley, of Stop Calling Me Frank

16 responses to “Super Mates 107: House of Franklin-Stein Part 3

  1. Oh, man, you guys couldn’t have made an episode more aligned with my tastes if you had tried; first and foremost, I absolutely love “American Werewolf in London.” It’s one of my favorite – if not absolute favorite – horror movies (and I’m not even the biggest horror fan) and definitely my favorite werewolf movies. I think a big part of it is the fact that the story is interspersed with bits of often really dark humor. (And, of course, the presence of Jenny Agutter doesn’t hurt.)
    There is only one little thing that about it that bugs my inner geek, which I recalled during your story synopsis: David waking up in the wolf enclosure at the zoo, and the wolves seem o.k. with him – even though it’s established that animals, like dogs and cats, react negatively to him because they can sense the taint of the supernatural. Wolves would be no different if you think about it (heck, dogs are basically domesticated wolves, right?) Anyway, rant over.

    As for your comics segment: I’ve always had a soft-spot for the Man-Wolf. Like many, I first encountered him through the condensed Power Records version of the story, then read the original first appearance not too long afterward in Marvel Tales. At around the same time, those two spectacular issues of Marvel Premiere featuring the Man-Wolf as Stargod appeared and those immediately made him a personal favorite – I only learned later that those two issues concluded a longer story arc from Creatures on the Loose (which I finally read a few years ago when the Man-Wolf Complete Collection book was published – you can find my rambling thoughts on that book elsewhere on line).
    By the way, I would disagree slightly that the change in Mary Jane’s personality was first seen in these issues; I’d argue that the first step in that direction was made on the very last page of ASM #122.

    1. Glad to hear we covered one of your favorite movies! Good point on the wolves. I guess they accepted him as one of their own? That’s the way I took it, but maybe it would have been even more effective if they hadn’t?

      As for Mary Jane, I meant to say she first showed true feelings in the “Death of Gwen” storyline, which I consider this story to be adjacent to. I wasn’t real clear about that, but I had that ending where she shuts the door and comforts Peter in mind.

    2. My wife has schnauzers (or had — one has passed). They bark at other dogs, unless the other dogs are schnauzers, at which point they tilt their heads as if to say, “Bob? Is that you? From the litter?” Some dogs are just breedists that way.

  2. As someone who has seen AWIL quite literally hundreds of times, I have a few thoughts.

    –There’s something about the way David Naughton performs the phone call home which suggests to me his character is estranged from his parents, which may be why they never visited him during his hospital stay, nor did he go home. I feel like David Kessler hasn’t talked to his family in a while, and he screwed up the courage to call them and say goodbye, only to have to tell it all to his little sister. I think that’s why his weird “nazi werewolf” dream focuses on his family–that somehow what has happened to him will hurt them.

    –I’ve always wondered, when Jack meets David, is he “really” there, or is this all in David’s mind? Obviously the curse is real, but if Alex had woken up a few seconds earlier, would she have seen Jack sitting there? She tells David she heard voices, plural. Was she really hearing Jack or was David doing both sides of the conversation? I love that mystery.

    –I’ve never thought that David in werewolf form went after the Inspector when he came bursting out of the theater. Rather, that it was because the Inspector wasn’t taking anything about this case seriously (unlike his lower ranked partner), and paid the price for it.

    –The Paris sequel is one of the worst sequels I have ever seen. There is one off handed line that connects it up to the original, if you want to see it that way. But it’s charmless, unfunny, not scary, and the digital effects look worse than the sfx in The Invisible Man, made 60 years earlier.

    –Thanks for mentioning the audio commentary Andrew and I did for Film and Water. After that recording, he told me about the BBC radio version and I checked it out (it features both Jenny Agutter and John Woodvine). Unsurprisingly it’s not as good as the movie, but it features an enlarged story, mostly centered around East Proctor. The chess player guy is sort of the town’s unofficial sheriff, which is why he seems to run the place. He is also the brother of the guy revealed to be the werewolf. Fun details, but I’m glad none of that stuff made it into the movie.

    –Kel and I joke about how thoroughly Alex doesn’t seem to know what to do during sex. Nibbling on David’s shoulder in the shower? Huh? Our only conclusion is, Alex is so unbelievably gorgeous that no man has ever told her she’s bad at sex and risks ruining the moment. Those three one night stands still dine out on having a one nighter with her, they just don’t get into the details.

    –At some point the studio wanted Belushi and Aykroyd to play David and Jack. They would have been way too old to play recent college students, but it’s an intriguing idea as to what that version of the movie would have looked like.

    Great episode guys!

    1. – I hadn’t thought of the estranged angle, but I guess that makes some sense. They did go to Jack’s funeral though, so I guess it wasn’t a “We don’t like the friends you keep” falling out, at least.
      – My take is David is “real”, but he may not be physically there, at least completely. He’s a ghost who can manifest as completely solid, or just disappear at will. I don’t think he’s a walking zombie that just happens to be really stealthy. But Alex DOES hear him, or as you said, maybe David is just playing both parts? But how would David know who his victims were? His visions of them match what we saw in the narrative earlier. And some moments with those characters were before the werewolf saw them, so I’m assuming we’re not following David-as-werewolf’s perspective on them.
      – I have never seen “Paris”. I like Tom Everett Scott and Julie Delpy, but it looked horrible then, and looks worse now.
      – Now I need to listen to that audio version!
      – I love the Alex is bad at sex angle! You’re right, who would tell her? Apparently David is good at it, considering her reaction to one of his…ah-hum…techniques.
      – I read about Akroyd and Belushi being mentioned for the roles, and I put that in the Bill Murray as Batman and Eddie Murphy as Robin camp of “what the hell were they thinking”. Of course, Akroyd would get to have a “transformation” scene with Landis directing that opening bit in the Twilight Zone movie.

    1. 1. We do too!
      2. That’s disgusting, but inventive. I know werewolves ripping out of their flesh has become popular since AAWIL, but I never undestood why creators thought that made more sense than just the skin and bones changing and hair growing, and then reverting. Sure, it’s more violent and gory, but I find it harder to swallow (no pun intended). But that’s just me.
      3. Well, Spidey tussles with aliens in his second issue, but it’s later retconned away, I think. But then re-retconned back! But maybe JJJ accused him of being an alien at some point? He accused him of everything else!

  3. I love love love this movie!

    Just a few comments on the movie.
    Like Rob, I always felt that David just isn’t close to his family.
    I am close to my family but even I would stay in London if asked to by Jenny Agutter. (Rob, she can bite my shoulder any time she wants!)
    JENNY AGUTTER!! I have to say between American Werewolf and Logan’s Run, she will forever remain in my heart. I keep hoping Rob will ask me on Fire and Water to talk about Equus!
    The transformation scene is just fantastic and is probably on my speed dial on Youtube!

    As for the comics, I mentioned it when the story was covered on Power Records but I read this very early in life in the Marvel Tales reprint. The panel with the chunk of flesh still attached to the ripped off pendant scared me and scarred me. I still can see it in my mind. I still shiver.

    On a lighter moment, the last panel with Spidey saying his spider sense is tingling and the manwolf about to jump on him from behind is a classic for me. I have embedded it in many medical lectures to talk about how in emergency medicine we have to be ready because complications can sneak up on you!

  4. Interesting that you and Rob both see a distance between David and his family. From his dream sequence, he seems quite close with them. But most college age kids are somewhat distant from their parents, I guess. But I don’t personally see any real rift, but that’s just me!

    Yeah, Jenny Agutter would make anyone delay their return home! Even if she does just bite your shoulder!

    I guess Spidey got his “pound of flesh” when he ripped off that pendant! YEOUCH!!!

    Nice to know that final panel of Man-Wolf about to pounce on Spidey has made it into your lectures! Comics are fun-damental!

  5. I enjoyed listening to this! I saw this movie in the theater in 1981 with my mom. She wasn’t really a big horror fan but I think she liked “the Dr. Pepper guy” as we called him. Those commercials were pretty popular back then. I saw the movie again about 10 years ago and really thought it stood up well all those years later. I especially like the early creepy scenes in the English countryside and village.

    Definitely looking forward to your discussion of Bela Lugosi’s Dracula next week!

    1. That’s great that you have memories of seeing the film with your mom! I hope certain scenes weren’t TOO awkward! This film definitely still holds up very well, especially in the FX department. So many similar films after it now are nearly unwatchable, due to bad CGI.

      Thanks for listening! Bela will bid you welcome next week!

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