An American Werewolf in London: Special Edition

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Craig Zaffaroni

Plot: What’s it about?

David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) are two American students who are backpacking through England. They arrive in a small town pub called “The Slaughtered Lamb” for some food and drink. Inside they meet some patrons that don’t take to kindly to strangers. When Jack asks what the pentagram on the wall is for, they are both asked to leave. On the way out they are told to stick to the road and stay off the moors. They continue their journey on foot as it gets dark. Both realize that they have ventured off the road and unto the moors and hear a howling sound. They are scared and try to go the opposite direction but it is too late. Jack is attacked and killed by this animal and David gets scratched up before some people show up and kill it. David wakes up at the hospital and is told of Jack’s death and that the two were attacked by a madman. He tells the doctor that he was attacked by an animal and! not a man.

“American Werewolf” is a classic and I am glad to see it given the treatment it deserves from Universal unlike the first release from Live/Artisan. There are good performances from the entire cast but what I like about this is the balance of horror and humor. There are some good suspenseful, gory moments but also some funny ones that fit nicely in the movie and don’t drown out the horror. I cared about the characters, especially David and what he was going through. John Landis is a good director and one of the few out there that can successfully balance horror and comedy. However, the biggest star of this film is the special effects designed by Rick Baker who won an academy award for this movie. The makeup and werewolf transformations are amazing and make this movie the classic that it is. This looks much better than the CGI transforma! tions that were used in “An American Werewolf In Paris.”

David Naughton has appeared other films such as “Midnight Madness,” “The Ice-cream Man,” “The Sleeping Car,” “Steel And Lace,” and others. Jenny Agutter has appeared in “Logan’s Run” and “Child’s Play 2.” Griffin Dunne has appeared in “Me And Him,” “After Hours,” “Who’s That Girl,” and others. John Landis has directed other films such as “Animal House,” “Kentucky Fried Movie,” “Trading Places,” “Spies Like Us,” “Innocent Blood,” “Beverly Hills Cop 3” and others.

Video: How does it look?

American Werewolf is presented in it’s 1.85.1 ratio and is enhanced for 16×9 televisions. This is much improved upon from the Live/Artisan version. Black levels look much better and aren’t bleeding like the previous release. The picture here is also much sharper and less of the artifacting than in the previous one as well. There is a little grain in the new version as well as a little picture softness but this a dramatic improvement over the previous release.

Audio: How does it sound?

The audio is in Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1. I listened to the Dolby Digital 5.1 track and it was a huge improvement over the 5.1 track on the previous release. There was more use of the rear speakers when the wolf was howling at the beginning of the movie, when the wind was blowing, when it was raining, when David and Alex were on the subway, the finally in Picadilly Circus and other scenes as well. I also noticed that scenes involving gunshot sounds were different, but more powerful than the previous release. There was a good balance of the dialogue and music/sound effects. While this track is not like a newer one it still is effective.

Supplements: What are the extras?

There are some good extras here unlike the previous version that only had a teaser trailer. First off is a commentary track with stars David Naughton and Griffin Dunne. The two talk about how certain special effects were uncomfortable and how the love scene for Naughton with Jenny Agutter was uncomfortable as well. There were some other interesting bits but there were many moments where nothing was being said. While this wasn’t the best commentary track, it was still nice to have these two involved in it. Also included is a funny 18 minute interview with John Landis today about how American Werewolf came to be. There is an 11 minute interview with Rick Backer today about the makeup effects and the famous werewolf transformation. There is some unused footage shown of the transformation and the attack in Picadilly Circus. There is a 5 minute featurette about the making of Werewolf that was made during the time of its release. There is an interview with Landis! on location in Picadilly Circus.

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