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Nightmare Demons

An American Werewolf in London
by yo go re

Having apparently run out of old McFarlane Toys releases to update and improve, NECA has now moved on to other companies.

Back in 2005, the retail market could support more than two big toy companies (Hasbro and Mattel), two medium toy companies
(Jazwares and Spinmaster), and two small toy companies (NECA and McFarlane). Everyone who wanted some collector dollars tried to ape McFarlane's Movie Maniacs, which is how SOTA Toys ended up with a line called Now Playing. The figures were good (if mired in the era's stupid belief that collectors didn't want articulation), and the first series - which, trivia fact, retailed for an exorbitant $12.99 - included the Nightmare Demon from An American Werewolf in London.

Despite being a world-renowned werewolf afficianado, I've only ever seen AAWiL once - and that was after SOTA's figures came out, so they meant nothing to me at the time. The Nightmare Demons mean only slightly more now, because the movie's strength lies in its makeup effects, not its story. You don't watch a Michael Bay film for anything other than the explosions, do you? Same deal, but with silicone rubber instead of pyrotechnics. But NECA's got that ability to make almost anything appealing, so here we are.

It's not overtly stated in the film, but David is Jewish. (Yes, there's the nurse's comment, but is she forgetting he's American? Of course he's circumcised; it would be werider if he weren't.) Anyway, that may be why the demons in his nightmare dress like Nazis. Note: that's "like" Nazis, not "as" Nazis - the uniforms aren't accurate to any real-world unit. After all, who but a historian would know the precise details of a military uniform from three and a half decades prior? And since it was all in David's head anyway, his mind just created something "close enough." The uniform is green, a jacket and pants, with black gloves and black boots. There are no insignias or badges, just the clothes themselves and a black belt with a thin strap over the shoulder sculpted as part of the top.

There were four Nazi demons in the nightmare sequence, each with distinct looks. When SOTA released theirs, they made three versions: two variations at mass retail, and one exclusive via their website. All three versions were packaged with the same bald monster head, but each came with a different alternate head. NECA, though, just gives us all four in the same package. Much better!

So, what heads do they have? Well, straight out of the box, we've got one that looks like a hairless zombie wolf, with large fangs, an exposed nasal cavity, and dried, wrinkled brown skin. This one also wears a military helmet, which is a separate piece and (on mine, at least) can be slipped right off the head with a little work. Sure, that leaves a big notch in the scalp where the helmet was theoretically meant to be glued in place, but it's not too noticeable due to the dark, uneven skin around it.

Next there's a healthier werewolf head, with grey skin and a full mane of black fur with a few gray streaks on the cheeks and over the top of the head. The little points of his ears poke out through the fur on the sides, too! After that there's the "mohawk" head, the one SOTA made exclusive, which is werewolfy in the vein of Wolverine or Eddie Munster, with a long widow's peak and large sideburns; his mouth is closed, but he still has big fangs, and his slightly pointed ears are set high on his head, above his burnt(?) cheeks. Finally, there's the bald head all three SOTA releases came with, an evil-eyed beast with a small snarl revealing his fangs. That last one was actually portrayed by makeup artist Rick Baker in the scene, so that's neat! None of them have articulated jaws or anything, but that's okay, because neither did the monsters in the movie - they were basically glorified Halloween masks. Nice ones, but still.

You may not realize it, but we foreshadowed this review last month. I found the Ultimate Nightmare Demon on the same roadtrip that netted me Casey Jones, but when I opened it, one of the knee joints immediately broke. Oh dang! Soon found a replacement, no worries. The Nazi Demon moves at the ankles, knees, thighs, hips, waist, chest, wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck(s) and head(s). Yes, despite swapping onto a balljoint at the base of the neck, each of the head has another at the top. The demons don't do anything especially active in the nightmare - just sort of go into David's house and wreck up the place - so this is more than enough. Lots more than SOTA did 16 years ago, too.

We get two alternate hands, a flaming torch, two big buck knives (one clean, one bloody) and three guns: an Ingram MAC-11, an Uzi, and a Sterling Mk. IV. For those keeping track at home, "mummy" uses the MAC-11, "mohawk" uses the Sterling, "streaks" uses the Sterling, and "baldy" gets the knife. Of course, it's all shot in such a choppy, quick fashion, you could use any weapons you want and have it be right.

An American Werewolf in Paris' nightmare sequence makes no sense in the film. It comes out of nowhere, relates to nothing, and has no bearing on anything that comes after. It feels like a random idea (a pun on the Nazi Werwolfs) dropped in a short script to pad the runtime, and could easily have served the same purpose in any movie at all. But because the Nazi demons are human-sized and might encourage multiple purchases, they're the first thing toy companies gravitate toward (other than Funko, that is). NECA did a fine job with the figure; and unlike SOTA, they're likely to get their werewolf out soon as well.

-- 01/09/22

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