'Werewolf' is more of a howler than a howl

December 25, 1997|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

A too-loud, too-dark, too-frenetic and too-close-to-the-original remake of a 16-year-old horror film: This is Hollywood's idea of a Christmas present?

Thanks for not a whole lot.

The makers of "An American Werewolf in Paris" would probably disagree, arguing that their film simply builds on the legacy of "An American Werewolf in London," but really all they've done is move the action to the other side of the English Channel and add a few twists.

The protagonists are still some lusty American males caught wandering where they shouldn't be wandering, the comic relief is still provided by a decaying corpse, the irony still stems from having Americans turn to werewolves in a country whose residents think we're sort of odd anyway, and the love interest is still a beautiful, accented young woman (Jenny Agutter there, Julie Delpy here).

Tom Everett Scott, Vince Vieluf and Phil Buckman play Americans wandering through Europe, bent on impressing each other with their daredevil stunts. Goaded on by his friends, who suspect his heart really isn't into the adrenalin-rush stuff, Scott dTC decides to trump them both by bungee-jumping off the Eiffel Tower.

But he and his friends find more than adventure in the skies above Paris; they find a young woman also determined to jump, without the bungee cord. She does, but Scott rescues her (in the first in a series of special-effects sequences that are only mildly successful).

For his trouble, he and his friends are attacked the following night; see, she and her housemates are werewolves. Even worse: She's fallen in love with her savior, while her friends see him as no more than lunch.

Director Anthony Waller has filled "An American Werewolf in Paris" with two key ingredients: a pounding soundtrack that's too relentless to be effective, and chases through dark tunnels that are exhilarating the first time around, wearying the 37th.

The film also includes a candidate for silliest reason yet for an actress to remove her top. As a whole, the film does Delpy no favors. And it's hardly going to do much for Franco-American relations: When the pack of werewolves decides to feast on the world's low-lifes, what do they do? Hold a party and invite only Americans.

Vive la France, indeed.

'An American Werewolf in Paris'

Directed by Anthony Waller

Starring Tom Everett Scott and Julie Delpy

Released by Hollywood Pictures

Rated R (violence, gore, brief nudity)

Sun score: **

Pub Date: 12/25/97

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