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An American Werewolf in London (1981)


Released:  Friday, August 21, 1981  
Length:  97 minutes
Studio: Universal Pictures
Genre: Horror, Comedy
Rating: An American Werewolf in London is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of AmericaUnder 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

An American Werewolf in London Synopsis

Blending the macabre with a wicked sense of humor, director John Landis (National Lampoon's Animal House) delivers a contemporary take on the classic werewolf tale in this story of two American tourists who, while traveling in London, find their lives changed forever when a vicious wolf attacks them during a full moon. Featuring groundbreaking, Academy Award-winning make-up by Rick Baker.

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An American Werewolf in London images are © Universal Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

An American Werewolf in London 4K Review

An American Werewolf in London 4K Review

Writer, director, producer, actor John Landis got his first break in Hollywood in 1973 with his film, Schlock.  That work led to other opportunities, including National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978), The Blues Brothers (1980), and An American Werewolf in London (1981).  Known for his comedic slant to situations, movie studios had some trepidation backing a film about an American who becomes a werewolf while hiking through England.  

Many in Hollywood thought it was too funny to be a horror movie while others thought it was too scary to be a comedy.  Eventually, the movie was financed by Polygram Pictures and has since become a cult classic.  Now, at forty years old, Arrow Films has decided to give it the “special treatment” only Arrow can with a new, limited edition 4K disc and “non-disc swag” available for purchase today, March 15, 2022.

David Kessler (David Naughton; Steel and Lace) and his friend, Jack Goodman (Griffin Dunn; After Hours) have decided to backpack through England.  On their way, they head to the moors in Yorkshire and as nightfall descends on the countryside, the pair decide to find warmth and food in a pub called the Slaughtered Lamb.  

Greeted by a bizarre group of locals, they decide to keep going but not before being warned to stay on the road, keep off the moors, and “beware the moon”.   A little while later, unaware they had drifted off the road, David and Jack hear a strange noise and are eventually attacked by a huge dog that kills Jack and bites David.  Three weeks later David wakes up in the hospital only to be visited by Jack’s corpse who tells David he is now a werewolf.

I don’t think anyone could argue that Landis is an excellent filmmaker, and An American Werewolf in London is a prime example of his talent.  His ability to combine horror with humor and manage to tell an interesting story is a testament to his knack to see things in a different way from everyone else.  He also surrounds himself with individuals who do their job well as evidenced by Rick Baker (Men in Black) earning the first-ever Oscar for Best Makeup for his work on An American Werewolf in London.

When Arrow decides to release a combo pack for an older title, audiences know they are in for a treat and this movie is no exception.  The 2160p resolution is incredible the picture is so sharp that you can see every detail on the clothing and every hair on David’s body as he transforms into the werewolf.  

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 isn’t as strong as its video counterpart, but it is decent and occasionally offers a full and robust experience.  This unevenness can be somewhat distracting sometimes but overall, the audio quality is good. Perhaps, with technological advances in the next ten years, the fiftieth-anniversary release will have a stronger audio track.

The extras include some new offerings along with previously released material (see list below).  As mentioned earlier though, there are so many “treats” incorporated in the set that collectors will want a copy of their own.  While the list of extras house on the disc are below, this limited-edition combo pack also has:

Reversible sleeve featuring original poster art and artwork by Graham Humphreys

Double-sided fold-out poster 

Six double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproductions 

Limited edition 60-page, a perfect-bound book featuring new writing by Craig Ian Mann and Simon Ward, archival articles, and original reviews.

While this Arrow Films release may not offer the video and audio sharpness as other versions, the physical extras are too good to pass up!  I suggest avid fans of the film should head over to the Arrow website and order their copy today.

Grade: B+


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