- Director : John Landis
- Actors : David Naughton, Griffin Dunne, Jenny Agutter
- Media Format : Anamorphic, NTSC, Surround Sound, Widescreen
- MPAA rating : R (Restricted)
- Run time : 1 hour and 37 minutes
- Country of Origin : USA
- Number of discs : 1
- Release date : March 15, 2022
- Studio : Arrow Video
Following his massive success with the college comedy Animal House and musical comedy The Blues Brothers, John Landis made the unexpected decision to switch to the horror genre for his next project. While there are some comedic elements to connect the director’s other work to An American Werewolf in London, it was the creature transformation scenes that the film was initially praised for. Rick Baker’s work aside, Landis’ werewolf film revised and reinvigorated the sub-genre of horror.
From a screenplay also by Landis, An American Werewolf in London follows American backpackers and friends David Kessler (David Naughton) and Jack Goodman (Griffin Dunne), who encounter a werewolf in their journey across England. When David is bitten by the creature after they visit a bar called The Slaughtered Lamb, he becomes increasingly concerned about an upcoming full moon. As one might expect from the title, these concerns prove valid and David transforms.
The transformation scene itself is one the reasons An American Werewolf in London has had such a lasting impact on the horror genre. Just as Universal’s 1941 film had pioneered the way with dissolves and jump cuts to create the illusion of a man transforming into a werewolf, Landis’ film advanced the sequence even further by utilizing the skillset of Rick Baker. Special make-up effects created by Baker were so convincing that Landis was able to film the transformation scene in full light, which had never been done in a werewolf film prior to this. Baker went on to win the first ever Academy Award for Best Makeup for this film, and many praise it as the best part of Landis’ film.
There are plenty of other reasons to enjoy An American Werewolf in London, but even if it is just the advances in special effects that impresses you, there is no better way to watch this film than the 4K Ultra HD release from Arrow Films. The special edition box set features a UHD Blu-ray presentation in Dolby Vision, taken from a 4K restoration of the original negative. Audio includes the original uncompressed 1.0 mono and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, and there are optional subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired.
The box set includes new cover art created by Graham Humphreys, which is also featured on the reversible sleeve and on a double-sided foldout poster included in the set. Both the sleeve and poster also contain the original poster artwork on the opposite side. The package also comes with six postcard-sized lobby card reproductions and a limited edition 60-page book insert, with essays, artwork, and original reviews of the film.
Along with the extras included in the box set, the disc itself is packed full of special features.
· Commentary by Beware the Moon filmmaker Paul Davis
· Commentary by actors David Naughton and Griffin Dunne
· Mark of The Beast: The Legacy of the Universal Werewolf, feature-length documentary by filmmaker Daniel Griffith, with interviews with John Landis, David Naughton and more
· An American Filmmaker in London, interview with John Landis about British cinema and his time working in Britain
· I Think He’s a Jew: The Werewolf’s Secret, video essay by filmmaker Jon Spira about how Landis’ film explores Jewish identity
· The Werewolf’s Call, Corin Hardy, director of The Nun, chats with writer Simon Ward about their formative experiences with Landis’ film
· Wares of the Wolf, featurette in which SFX artist Dan Martin and Tim Lawes of Prop Store look at some of the costumes and special effects artefacts from the film
· Beware the Moon, Paul Davis’ acclaimed, feature-length exploration of Landis’ film which boasts extensive interviews
· An American Werewolf in Bob’s Basement and Causing a Disturbance: Piccadilly Revisited, two 2008 featurettes filmed by Paul Davis
· Making An American Werewolf in London, archival featurette on the film’s production
· An Interview with John Landis, 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, 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 trailer and teaser plus TV and radio spots
· Extensive image gallery featuring over 200 stills, posters and other ephemera
Entertainment Value: 7/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7.5/10
Historical Significance: 8.5/10
Special Features: 10/10
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