An American Werewolf in London (BBC Radio Collection) Audio CD – Audiobook, 6 May 1997
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Updating and expanding the story told in the 1981 film of the same name, this drama features the stars of the film in their original roles. Two American backpackers suffer a frenzied attack on the Yorkshire moors. One survives, and he soon discovers that the assailant was more animal than human.
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Is it good? Yes and no. (It's definitely not worth hundreds of dollars.) On the good side, this BBC radio drama employs several of the same cast members of the original motion picture. It expands the story and provides some backstory. I love the original film and - the more one watches it - the more unexplained questions people have. For instance, who was the original werewolf and just what is up with the people of East Proctor? Well, this radio drama attempts to answer those questions.
It turns out that the original werewolf was the brother of the constable of East Proctor (the scary chess player from the movie). He really was in an insane asylum before he broke out. Apparently, ancestors of East Proctor came from Rumania and lycanthropy came with them. We get to hear the original werewolf talking to Jack in limbo - filling him in on information of the undead. We also get some kind of explanations as to why David's parents never bothered to come to England to get him. At least in the radio version, we find that Doctor Hirsch will never have to sit through another excruciating evening with Roger Matheson!
On the not-as-good side, as frequently happens with remakes and adaptations, it serves to remind the audience how good the original really was. These are the things that are missing from this production: the original sound-design (they don't use the bone-chilling howl from the movie), the music from the film, or the principle actors. Listening to the BBC radio drama, one is reminded of just how technically good the movie is. Much of that is lost here. Also, the acting on the part of David and Jack just isn't as good (it actually gets annoying when they are trying to be funny). It just doesn't convey the same sense of menace and dread that the movie does.
Also, even though the radio drama expands the story, I didn't really like the expansion. I didn't believe the backstory we were given. For example, why did the original werewolf really have to be in an insane asylum? The residents of East Proctor would have surely known that wouldn't hold him past the first full moon. Doctor Hirsch states that there really was no "escaped lunatic." After he escapes, there is a helicopter search of the moors. That just doesn't work; part of the dread invoked is that they are miles away from civilization - there were simply no helicopters around.
All in all, this radio drama is good but not great. Listen to it to remember why you should go back and watch the original film.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
In stereo the Radio play is creepy as the film ever was.
With much of the original cast reprising there on screen roles we get a level of experience from a production team with a rep for hamming up performances. Many of the actors reprising roles come from a Shakespeare background and many are the gems of British television.
The exception being the use of radio actors as the 2 lead roles.
They are a perfect example of hammy.
Taking the story past the movie and even incorporating a pre movie scene with an escaped lunatic on the moors will give fans of the film a treat, while the original story is as riveting as ever right up to it's tragic and moving ending.
Director Dirk Maggs can be proud of this.