4K UHD Review: An American Werewolf In London

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During the summer of 1981, the publicity blitz started up for An American Werewolf In London. You’d pick up a magazine and there were photos from the set showing off the new face of horror. This was going to be a bit more intense than any of the Wolf Man movies that starred Lon Chaney Jr and aired during the Creature Double Feature on WLVI 56 in Boston. There was no chance that I could see the film. My parents were cool enough to take me to see an R-rated horror flick. We didn’t have HBO that wasn’t a down the road option. Since it was 1981, there was no VCR in the house. The only way I could find out about the film was have someone talk about it at lunch in high school. I could only imagine the film and the hairy mayhem. After getting to college a few years later, I had my chance to see finally see it on the big screen. After all those years of waiting, the movie lived up to the publicity tease. Over the decades, I’ve seen it on VHS, laserdisc, DVD and Blu-ray. Now An American Werewolf in London is out on 4K UHD with a resolution to rival what I saw on the big screen.

David Kessler (Makin’ It‘s David Naughton) and Jack Goodman (After Hours‘ Griffin Dunne) are two college kids backpacking across England. They get dropped off Yorkshire after hitching a ride on a sheep truck. They’re warned to stick to the road and stay out of the moors. The guys follow that rule as they hike to the Slaughtered Lamb pub. The place turns out to be a local’s only joint. They quickly get the idea that they aren’t welcome and head out into the cold night. This time they wander off the road and are scared by weird howls and noises near them in the dark. Are they just frightened for no reason? Turns out there’s danger nearby and it pounces on them. One of the locals shoots their attacker. David ends up in the hospital for several weeks. He swears he was attacked by a hairy beast. His nurse (Logan’s Run‘s Jenny Agutter) isn’t sure what to make of the American she’s treating. The two get close. Is this a smart move since there’s a full moon coming up and David is having issues?

An American Werewolf In London is a brilliant work of horror with just right touch of humor. John Landis as director and writer really made a film worthy of the universal monsters found in the classic era. Rick Baker came up with special effects that took the werewolf film beyond merely covering an actor in fake fur and a pair of plastic fangs. When the moon comes up, David Naughton’s transformation comes off as a painful event. Likewise the fate of Jack’s decay is pretty disgusting. Rick Baker deservedly won the first Oscar for Make-Up with his grotesque monster creations. Even after 41 years, An American Werewolf In London still has the power to terrorize and make an audience laugh. You’ll never wander onto the moors.

The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The brand new 4K restoration is from the original camera negative. The 4K (2160p) UHD Blu-ray presentation in Dolby Vision (HDR10 compatible). You’ll feel the chill of the moors. The audio is the DTS-HD MA mono mix. There’s also a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio remix to get the snarls of the werewolf around the room. The movie is subtitled.

Audio commentary by Beware the Moon filmmaker Paul Davis. He gets to discuss even deeper the film after serious documentary about the film.

Audio commentary by actors David Naughton and Griffin Dunne lets them recount their time in England. They enjoy the reunion.

Mark of The Beast: The Legacy of the Universal Werewolf (77:18) is a feature-length documentary by filmmaker Daniel Griffith that interviews John Landis, David Naughton, Joe Dante and more. This is a recent production.

An American Filmmaker in London (11:41) is recent interview with John Landis. He speaks about British cinema and his time working in Britain. He admits seeing various Carry On and Doctor movies.

I Think He’s a Jew: The Werewolf’s Secret (11:26) is a video essay by filmmaker Jon Spira (Elstree 1976) about how Landis’ film is about two Jewish guys backpacking.

The Werewolf’s Call (11:26) lets Corin Hardy (director of The Hallow and The Nun) chat with writer Simon Ward about the impact Landis’ film had on their life. One of them first saw it on BBC2.

Wares of the Wolf (7:58) allows SFX artist Dan Martin and Tim Lawes of Prop Store look at the original costumes and special effects artifacts.

Beware the Moon (97:39) is Paul Davis’ documentary on Landis’ film which boasts extensive cast and crew interviews. They go deep into how the film happened and its impact. They even revisit a few locations.

An American Werewolf in Bob’s Basement and Causing a Disturbance: Piccadilly Revisited are two 2008 featurettes filmed by Paul Davis 

Making An American Werewolf in London (4:54) is the original short film showing the behind the scenes action. He talks about using a werewolf that isn’t on 2 legs.

An Interview with John Landis (18:19) is an archival interview with the director. He talks about how it is a throwback to the old horror films. He wrote the script in 1969 while acting in Kelly’s Heroes. He also reveals the inspiration.

Make-up Artist Rick Baker on An American Werewolf in London (11:13) has the legendary make-up artist discusses his work on the film. He started with John Landis on Schlock. During the production, Landis told him his next film was to be Werewolf, but it took a little more time for them to collaborate fully.

I Walked with a Werewolf (7:30) is an archival interview with Rick Baker about Universal horror and its legacy of Wolfman films. He goes deep in how his obsession with the film turned into an Oscar winning career.

Casting of the Hand (10:59) is archival footage from Rick Baker’s workshop showing how the crew made of David Naughton’s hand for the wolf transformation. John Landis lurks around for the fun.

Outtakes (3:07) are snippets without sound. You get to see John Landis clowning around on the set, a bus during the stunt, the head roll and a bit more.

Storyboards featurette (2:27) matches up the storyboard to when the werewolf is discovered in the theater. Landis sprung for rather arty color storyboards instead of ink sketches.

Trailer Gallery includes the original trailer (2:53), teaser trailer (1:01) and TV Spot (0:31). This is a different kind of animal from the director of Animal House.  

Image Gallery features over 200 production stills, posters, lobby cards, shooting schedule and more.

Double-sided fold-out poster of new artwork and the original poster.

Six double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproductions are suitable for framing.

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

Arrow Video presents An American Werewolf in London. Directed by John Landis. Screenplay by John Landis. Starring David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Griffin Dunne, John Woodvine, Don McKillop, Frank Oz, Paul Kember and Sydney Bromley. Running Time: 97 minutes. Rating: Rated R. Release Date: March 15, 2022.

Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.