In 1981, director John Landis revitalized the werewolf subgenre of horror films with An American Werewolf in London. That film was the source of both nightmares and a unique hybrid of horror and comedy that does not denigrate the film’s integrity as a solid overall narrative. With Arrow Video’s release of a limited edition Blu-ray, dedicated fans and lucky newbies will have an opportunity to discover so much information about the film and about the cinematic history of werewolves, that they will be able to hold their own court on the subject at any horror convention (much less dinner party) in the foreseeable future.
The instant-classic story revolves around two American backpackers David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) who have an unfortunate run-in with a werewolf. One of them is torn to shreds and the other winds up the not-so-lucky recipient of the werewolf curse. As the survivor is nursed back to health, he falls under the spell of his charming nurse, Alex (Jenny Agutter), and…well…trouble and murders ensue. Beyond a rather touching story, the film’s centerpiece is a werewolf transformation sequence (executed by Rick Baker) that will likely never be outdone.
The picture is the result of a recent 4k restoration that was supervised by Landis. So, the 1080p Blu-ray picture, presented in the film’s native 1.85:1 aspect ratio, looks as good as the film has yet been seen on a home video release. The audio is presented in two tracks: a DTS-HD Master Audio Mono (48kHz, 24-bit) (the original mix was mono) and a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit). Both tracks are in English, and both provide a very fine presentation. Beware of your sensitivity to higher frequencies being tested whenever something violent happens, as some of the startling moments have aural accompaniments that almost feel like they’re tearing into one’s ear canals.
Onto the extras…whoa, Nelly! This edition contains so much comprehensive material that it can become overwhelming. Moreover, there are so many interviews and documentaries that many of the production anecdotes are repeated two or more times throughout the various extra features. That said, the diversity of the extra features, both old and new, is extremely satisfying and provides great context for the film. There are two audio commentaries: one featuring actors Naughton and Dunne, from a previous edition; and one new one by Paul Davis. Speaking of Davis, in 2009 he made a feature length documentary on the making of the film. The doc, called Beware the Moon, features interviews with cast and crew and commentary by Davis, who revisits most of the film’s locations; this documentary is included in the extras.