One of the greatest directors of the 1980s, John Landis (The Blues Brothers, Trading Places), expertly combines macabre horror with dark humor in the lycanthropic classic, An American Werewolf in London. American tourists David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) are savaged by an unidentified vicious animal whilst hiking on the Yorkshire Moors. David awakes in a London hospital to find his friend dead and his life in disarray. Retiring to the home of a beautiful nurse (Jenny Agutter, Walkabout) to recuperate, he soon experiences disturbing changes to his mind and body, undergoing a full-moon transformation that will unleash terror on the streets of the capital… An American Werewolf in London had audiences howling with laughter and recoiling in terror upon its cinema release. Landis’ film has gone on to become one of the most important horror films of its decade, rightly lauded for its masterful set-pieces, uniquely unsettling atmosphere and Rick Baker’s truly ground-breaking, Oscar-winning special make-up effects. Now newly restored and presented with an abundance of extra features, this big beast of horror can be devoured as never before…
What We Thought:
An American Werewolf in London is an important film in the horror genre and this new release features the movie being restored from its original camera negative. I hadn’t seen the film in well over 20 years so it was nice catching up with this pretty incredible release.
The movie itself starts out with two American backpackers in the middle of nowhere England. They are cold and wet and stop in a random small pub. The pub goers give them the cold shoulder and they head back out with some warnings from the locals. They are attacked by a werewolf with Jack being killed and David surviving. He’s sent to a hospital in London where he wakes up three weeks later. His memory is foggy and he’s told him and his friend were attacked by a mad man. He starts seeing dead Jack who tells him he’s a werewolf. He has a hard time putting the pieces together and starts to fall for his nurse. He moves in with her after he’s released from the hospital and then the film goes off the rails with David’s first experience under a full moon.
The movie is slow at times once David is released from the hospital. Not seeing it in a long time I forgot it dragged on a bit between him being bitten and then the renowned werewolf transformation. Sure the movie may be slow by today’s standards, but you can’t complain about that transformation. The film won an Oscar for Best Makeup. An Oscar. A horror movie won an Oscar. Let that sink in. That’s how incredible the werewolf transformations are. In 1981 genre films weren’t always recognized for being more than just genre films so this winning an Oscar really does say something. Forty years later it still holds up and looks freaking amazing.
It’s because of those makeup effects the film is so beloved. It’s a classic in every sense of word being one of the best and go to werewolf films. It rivals any old Hollywood monster movie and helped change makeup effects thanks to the iconic Rick Baker. There is a lot more to the story then I remember, but you watch this film for the visuals and balls to the walls ending.
As for this new release, like previously stated it has been restored. Plus this new release comes with a slew of bonus features including commentary by the actors, a documentary on the legacy of the film, new interview with director John Landis and much more. You can see the full list below. The Blu-ray release looks great restored and it sounds even better. The howls and score are just perfect.
An American Werewolf in London was a game changing film and this release really lets the film shine. It looks and sounds great and you get a ton extras with it. If you are a fan of the film, this is a must own. If you haven’t seen the film in a while (like me) or not at all, pick this up and marvel at the effects.
- New 2019 restoration from the original camera negative supervised by John Landis
- High Definition Blu-ray™ (1080p) presentation
- Original uncompressed 1.0 mono and optional 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- New audio commentary by Beware the Moon filmmaker Paul Davis
- Audio commentary by actors David Naughton and Griffin Dunne
- Mark of The Beast: The Legacy of the Universal Werewolf, newly produced, feature length documentary by filmmaker Daniel Griffith, featuring interviews with John Landis, David Naughton, Joe Dante and more
- An American Filmmaker in London, newly filmed interview with John Landis in which he reflects on British cinema and his time working in Britain
- I Think He’s a Jew: The Werewolf’s Secret, new video essay by filmmaker Jon Spira (Elstree 1976) about how Landis’ film explores Jewish identity
- The Werewolf’s Call, Corin Hardy, director of The Hallow and The Nun, chats with writer Simon Ward about their formative experiences with Landis’ film
- Wares of the Wolf, new featurette in which SFX artist Dan Martin and Tim Lawes of Prop Store look at some of the original costumes and special effects artifacts from the film
- Beware the Moon, Paul Davis’ acclaimed, feature-length exploration of Landis’ film which boasts extensive cast and crew interviews
- Making An American Werewolf in London, a short archival featurette on the film’s production
- An Interview with John Landis, a lengthy archival interview with the director about the film
- Make-up Artist Rick Baker on An American Werewolf in London, the legendary make-up artist discusses his work on the film
- I Walked with a Werewolf, an archival interview with Rick Baker about Universal horror and its legacy of Wolfman films
- Casting of the Hand, archival footage from Rick Baker’s workshop showing the casting of David Naughton’s hand
- Storyboards featurette
- Original trailers, teasers and TV spots
- Extensive image gallery featuring over 200 stills, posters and other ephemera
- Reversible sleeve featuring original poster art and artwork by Graham Humphreys