Blu-ray Review: An American Werewolf in London (1981)

October 17, 2019

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

I’m not even going to fuck around; An American Werewolf in London is one of the finest horror pictures ever made. Doubtless, no one reading these wicked words would need any convincing to agree… but for the one person out there that may be unfamiliar with this fright flick, I’m gonna kick of this revoltin’ review of Arrow Video’s new Blu-ray release of this beast of a film with a sinister synopsis (I mean I always do that but what-fucking-ever).

Two American friends, let’s call them David and Jack… because that’s what their character’s names are… anyway these two dudes (played by David Naughton and Griffin Dunn respectively) are on one of those European backpacking trips that the kids of today are just so gosh darn fucking fond of. After getting the bums rush at the local watering hole, our heroes set off into the night, and get attacked by a savage werewolf (you can bet that nugget should be on TripAdvisor); David lives, but is injured, while Jack becomes Alpo for that hellish hound.

After a brief hospital stay (fraught with bad dreams and a visit from the mangled corpse of Jack), David is released and shacks up with sexiful nurse Alex (Jenny Agutter) who helped him regain his health. Sex ensues… and David develops the nasty habit of turning into a giant werewolf and going on murderous rampages. You know, the ushe…

So what makes An American Werewolf in London so damn special? Is it the way Writer/Director John Landis manages to blend terror and laughs more skillfully than the majority of horror comedies before or since, plus include a ton of heart? Or is it how it features amazingly personable and endearing performances of it’s leads; Naughton, Dunne, and Agutter? Possibly it’s the fact that it features one of the all-time greatest, practically realized werewolf transformations of all time? Yup; it’s all of those… but that last one is where we get our monstrous money shot; and horror hounds have been lappin’ up that Rick Baker created goodness since ’81 (though his progressing corpse make-up on Dunne is a real showstopper as well)!

So, why do I think you need to pick up this new edition of an old fanged favorite? Just feast your putrid peepers on these special features and I think that question will be answered die-fucking-rectly! Kicking out the jams we have two audio commentaries, a new one from Beware the Moon filmmaker Paul Davis, and the other an archival chat with actors Naughton and Dunne. The former is a encyclopedic journey through the film’s production, while the latter is more off-the-cuff and anecdotal; excellent compliments to each other and both well worth a listen!

After those we get more brand-new material including; a fun feature length documentary examining the werewolf flicks from Universal Pictures, an interview with Landis, a look at some of the original costumes and effects utilized in the film as they appear today (trust me, you won’t believe how absolutely engaging a chat about a fucking red coat can be, but here we are), a look at how the film explores Jewish identity, and a chat with filmmaker Colin Hardy and writer Simon Ward about their experiences with the film.

Hey, remember earlier when I mentioned Beware the Moon by Paul Davis? Well that feature-length look into all things American Werewolf is included here as well… and it is a glorious deep dive, worth the price of admission here alone!

We are not done fur fans, as this Blu also features: a short archival “making-of” featurette, archival interviews with Landis and Baker, archival footage of Naughton’s hand being cast by the F/X department, a collection of silent outtakes, a storyboard to screen comparison featurette. A collection of trailers, TV spots, and image galleries round out the package… on disc anyway.

All of this wolfy wonderfulness comes in a beautiful package boasting arcane art courtesy of ghoulish Graham Humphreys… and tucked inside you’ll find not only a preternatural poster (double-sided at that), but six postcard sized lobby poster reproductions, and best off all a 60-page booklet featuring new writing by author Travis Crawford!

If you love An American Werewolf in London, or are just wondering what all the unholy hub bub is all about, you absolutely need this release in your (after)life; it’s an off-the-charts awesome presentation of this classic creature feature and it belongs in every horror hounds creepy collection!

 

 

 

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