• An American Werewolf in London: Limited Edition (Arrow Video) Blu-ray Review + Screenshot Comparisons



    Studio: Arrow Video
    Release Date: August 21st, 1981 (theatrical)
                         October 29th, 2019 (blu-ray)
    Run Time: 97 mins
    Region Code: FREE
    Picture: 1080p (1.85:1 aspect ratio)
    Sound: English DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 (original mix)
               English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
    Subtitles: English SDH
    Slipcover: Yes. (Hard Box)
    Digital Copy: No
    Starring: David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Griffin Dunne, John Woodvine, Brian Glover, and Lila Kaye
    Written by John Landis
    Directed by John Landis
    Rating: R (strong creature violence and gore, nudity, and language)

    NOTE: This review contains screenshot comparisons between the new Arrow Video blu-ray and the slightly older Universal blu-ray.

    Left = 2019 Arrow Video
    Right = 2016 Universal

    THE FILM ⭐⭐1/2


    Two American college students are on a walking tour of Britain and are attacked by a werewolf. One is killed, the other is mauled. The werewolf is killed but reverts to its human form, and the local townspeople are unwilling to acknowledge its existence. The surviving student begins to have nightmares of hunting on four feet at first but then finds that his friend and other recent victims appear to him, demanding that he commit suicide to release them from their curse, being trapped between worlds because of their unnatural deaths.

    I have never been the biggest fan of An American Werewolf in London. However, it was due to a lack of trying. Over the past thirty years, I have seen the film quite a few times. The first time I watched the film, at the age of about ten, and I didn't get what the fuss was all about. Sure, the effects were amazing (and still are) but the comedy never really gelled with me, and the pacing was sluggish.

    Since then, I have watched the film every time it hit a new format and/or a new edition would come out. My opinions really haven't changed all that much. I still think the comedy isn't all that great, although there are some jokes that I get now that I am older.

    The effects are still amazing even if they are a bit more obvious than they were back then. You can see where the effect is a lot of the times, especially in HD, but they are still great.

    The film is also a bit sluggish. The biggest culprit, to me, is the transformation scene. This is a highlight to most people that watch the film, and the effects, again, are gorgeous, but the pacing feels off. I feel that Landis spends too much time showing off the effects that the legendary Rick Baker put together and throws pacing out the window. I get that we are supposed to be horrified by the pain the David is in but we stay on shots just so that the effect can be marveled at. I think that Landis should have paced scene better. Of course, I am going get shit about this opinion but it needed to be said.

    In the end, the film is still going to be viewed as a groundbreaking classic, no matter what I say. I still like a lot of what Landis is giving us but I always felt that this film was more concerned about the effects more than anything else. I can recommend An American Werewolf in London with some hesitation. Go in knowing that effects are king here and you might have a good time.

    THE PICTURE ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

    THE SOUND  ⭐⭐⭐⭐


    Featuring a brand new 4K scan, and presented in the film's original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, An American Werewolf in London looks great. The film was previously released on blu-ray in 2016 and that came from a new restoration. While that picture looked pretty good, the transfer was smeared with DNR, robbing the film of fine detail.

    For this release, Arrow ain't fucking around and did their own scan and left the smeary 2016 transfer in the dust. Grain is thankfully here and brings the picture back to a film like look (because it was shot on film). This gives way to the fine detail lost in the 2016 transfer. Hairs, pores, stitching on coats all make a bigger appearance here. Colors look great as well with the red coat looking really red without bleeding out. Many will notice that both transfers look similar. This could be because Arrow was given the original transfer files, the ones with all the digital manipulation that the film was processed through in 2016, and left much of it alone. They kept the good and threw away the bad. This is a strong transfer and proof that Universal should leave well enough alone when it comes to the DNR and the like.

    The sound comes to us in the form of a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track and an LPCM mono track. The mono track is the film's original track and that is the one that I watched the film with. I believe that this is the first time the original track has been included on a modern release as it is not on the 2016 blu-ray. The track sounds great, although many will want to watch the film with the 5.1 track as it fills the room with sound. I listened to a bit of that track, and while it does sound fuller, it doesn't have the original track's charm. I usually go with what the filmmaker wants us to listen to and I would agree on this front as well.

    THE PACKAGING ⭐⭐⭐⭐

    An American Werewolf in London comes to in the standard Limited Edition packaging that Arrow Video has become known for.


    The outer box is a hard box that holds the case and the other goodies very well. The front artwork is a commissioned job and it looks really great.

    Inside the hard box, you will find a double-wide, clear amaray case that houses the film's disc and postcards.


    The cover is reversible with the commissioned artwork on the default side and the film's original theatrical poster on the other side. I do love that the people who created the poster weren't sure that people would know that this is a monster movie so they placed the words "The Monster Movie" below the title just to make sure.


    Six postcards are found here as well. Each features a different screenshot from the film.


    There are also two other items found in this hard box. The first is a 60-page booklet featuring two essays about the film by _____. There is also a review from Cinefantasique magazine written by ______ as well as other reviews, written at the time of the film's release by _____, _____, and _____. The booklet closes with information about the picture and the sound.



    The last item is a double-sided poster featuring the commissioned artwork on one side and the film's teaser poster, an image I had never seen before, found on the reverse side.


    The blu-ray disc itself is REGION FREE.

    THE FEATURES ⭐⭐⭐⭐


    Audio Commentary with Paul Davis

    Audio Commentary with actors David Naughton and Griffin Dunne


    Mark of the Beast: The Legacy of the Universal Werewolf (1h 17m, HD, 2.35:1) Newly produced, feature-length documentary, by filmmaker Daniel Griffith, featuring interviews with John Landis, David Naughton, Joe Dante, and more.

    This is the standout feature for me on this set. This is a doc that is so thoroughly researched and expertly edited that you wonder why it isn’t a standalone feature. This doc covers every werewolf film that Universal Pictures made from The Werewolf in 1913 all the way to The Wolfman in 2010. There is even some talk about the Hammer werewolf films as well as some made by Columbia Pictures and independently. This is one of my favorite special features of 2019.


    An American Filmmaker in London (11m 41s, HD) A newly filmed interview with John Landis in which he reflects on British cinema and his time working in London.


    Wares of the Wolf (7m 58s, HD) New featurette in special effects artist Dan Martin and Tim Lawes of The Prop Shop look at some of the original costumes and special effects artifacts from the film.


    I Think He’s A Jew: The Werewolf’s Secret (11m 26s, HD) New video essay by filmmaker Jon Spira about how Landis’ film explores Jewish identity.


    The Werewolf’s Call (11m 26s, HD) Colin Hardy, director of The Hallow and The Nun, chats with writer Simon Ward about their formative experiences with Landis’ film.


    Beware the Moon (1h 37m, SD) Paul Davis’ acclaimed, feature-length exploration of Landis’ film which boasts extensive cast and crew interviews.


    Making An American Werewolf in London (4m 54s, SD, 1.33:1) A very standard behind the scenes look at the making of the film. It offers up some great on-set footage and interviews.


    An Interview with John Landis (18m 19s, SD, 1.85:1, 4x3) Archival interview with Landis.


    Make-Up Artist Rick Baker on An American Werewolf in London (11m 13s, SD, 1.33:1)


    I Walked with a Werewolf (7m 30s, SD, 1.33:1) Archival interview with make-up artist Rick Baker about Universal horror and it’s legacy of Wolf Man films.


    Casting the Hand (10m 59s, HD, 1.33:1) Archival footage from Baker’s workshop as they cast David Naughton’s hand.

    Outtakes (3m 7s, HD, 1.85:1, 4x3)


    Storyboard Featurette (2m 27s, SD)

    Original Trailers

    -Trailer (2m 53s, HD)
    -Teaser (1m 1s, SD, 1.33:1)
    -TV Spot (31s, HD, 1.33:1)

    Image Galleries

    -Production Stills (115 images)
    -Behind the Scenes (90 images)
    -Posters (23 images)
    -Lobby Cards (17 images)
    -Storyboards (35 images)
    -Shooting Schedule (12 images)


    THE CONCLUSION ⭐⭐⭐⭐


    Arrow Video continues going above and beyond for these blu-ray releases of beloved films and their An American Werewolf in London blu-ray release is no slouch. Kudos go to Ballyhoo Motion Pictures for putting together one of the best special features of 2019 with their Mark of the Beast documentary. The rest of the features are great and the packaging is worth the extra money. This is one of the best releases of 2019, even if I am not the biggest fan of the film itself.

    THE SCREENSHOTS

    Arrow Video Blu-ray (2019):










    Universal Blu-ray (2016)











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