Plot: What’s it about?
David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) are best friends from America on a grand adventure in Europe, backpacking through whatever adventures land in their path. The two have bummed rides across England and find themselves at The Slaughtered Lamb, a pub with an eerie atmosphere. The locals warn the friends about the area, telling them to stay away from the moors and stick to the main roads, but it falls on deaf ears. Jack and David set out in the night and wind up just where they were told to avoid, which leads to a horrific attack. A creature mauls them both, leaving Jack dead and David badly injured, only alive because the locals showed up in the nick of time. When David begins to have strange visions and experiences, has the attack changed him somehow or is he just shook up over recent events?
There aren’t a lot of good werewolf movies, but An American Werewolf in London is one of the good ones, perhaps even up with the best. In addition to solid writing, direction, and performances, this film has what few others do, some of the coolest werewolf effects ever witnessed. Rick Baker’s magic touch was dead on with this movie, the special effects simply shine and elevate the experience so much. Even now almost three decades later, the visuals still hold up and yes, they even look good when seen in high definition. Just special effects wouldn’t be enough however, even ones as good as these. John Landis supplies solid direction and a good concept, while the cast also rises to the occasion. An American Werewolf in London is simply a horror staple, so of course this release is well recommended.
Video: How does it look?
An American Werewolf in London is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. This doesn’t look great, but for an 80s movie, it isn’t half bad. A lot of movies from this period have more grain than usual, which is inherent and gives the visuals here a film-like look, but also softens the detail. But when compared to the DVD, this transfer shows a crisper image with more subtle detail, even if it isn’t eye popping like some titles. I found colors and contrast to be fine, with no errors to report. All in all, a more than solid treatment that does the movie justice.
Audio: How does it sound?
A better than expected DTS HD 5.1 option is present, which is a little held back thanks to the sound design, but still provides a solid experience. The surround use is sometimes a little unnatural, but most of the time it sounds good and gives the material a much needed punch-up at times. The more tense scenes benefit the most, but the entire movie has good presence. The sound effects a touch loud occasionally, but dialogue is still clear and always audible. This disc also includes Spanish, French, German, and Italian language tracks, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Portuguese, Greek, and Mandarin.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The best of the extras is Beware the Moon, a retrospective documentary that is almost as long as the film itself. This is about as in depth as it gets, with all facets of the projects discussed. You’ll follow the concept from the origins in the 60s through the special effects process, the critical reaction, and the lasting legacy of the finished product. This is just an excellent look inside An American Werewolf in London, a piece fans will not want to miss. A trio of much shorter featurettes are also on hand, as well as interviews with John Landis and Rick Baker. This disc also includes some storyboards, outtakes, and audio comments from stars Griffin Dunne and David Naughton.