An American Werewolf In London Blu-Ray Review

Cover Art and Menus: 5/10
I’m biased against this cover art, it’s true. I like the original image from the movie poster. It’s a nostalgia thing. I think this cover gives a whole other vibe. It is about the two young men in England, full moon, etc. It just doesn’t have the impact that the gnarly teeth and growling snout of the wolf-man on the 80’s version or even the earliest one of the dudes on the cover looking afraid. You have to go check out the other versions of the poster. It’s hilarious how a movie can be marketed so many different ways. The Japanese versions are insanely funny.

The menu is not good if you haven’t seen the movie. It flashes through scenes from the entire movie, basically showing you what is going to happen. Granted, you might have seen it a hundred times by now, but there is still a new audience out there that deserves the element of surprise throughout the film.

Features: 10/10

  • I Walked With A Werewolf – Rick Baker talks about doing the special make up for the movie, and how he became involved with the project.
  • Beware The Moon –This is an awesome retrospective look at the entire process that brought American Werewolf to our budding 80’s culture so long ago. Almost current interviews with everyone in the movie, Landis, Rick Baker, and more. It’s a full length dive into so many details it will fulfill any die hard fan of the movie, that would be me. 🙂
  • Making An American Werewolf In London – This is a short but semi-sweet little blurb that came from the 80’s. It’s one of those mostly promotional looks at the movie heavy on the promotion of the John Landis as director angle.
  • An Interview With John Landis – Just a few years ago Landis did a full whack interview on making movies, and his werewolf project that started when he was just 18 years old.
  • Make Up Artist Rick Baker On The Film – More of Rick Baker talking about making horror movies, including American Werewolf in London.
  • Casting Of The Hand – Want to find out how to make a hand transform from human to beast? Here ya go.
  • Outtakes – These outtakes have no soundtrack, so they put the sound of a projector over the top. It’s a bit weird, and feels older than it really is, not to mention there doesn’t seem to be many bloopers going on, just stalled moments, a bit of a giggle now and then, or someone falls over.
  • Storyboards – How each scene would play out, particularly the transformation scenes had to be plotted out for so much special make up and effects. It’s great to see older versions of storyboards, pre-pre-visualizations in the CG world. I like the hand drawn style.
  • Photograph Montage – I think the name says it all…photos.
  • Feature Commentary – The more you hear Landis talk about making his movies the more you realize that some people really do have that ‘bug’ of enthusiasm for what they do in life and he’s definitely one of them!

The Movie: 9/10
Well, its a marvelous night for a moondance, with the stars up above in your eyes. A fantabulous night to make romance, neath the cover of October skies.

If you know the tune to that lyric and it conjures up images of an 80’s movie shower scene and a man in agony transforming into a werewolf, well, we should start a club. I know I am giving this movie a high score, and it’s not a great movie, so why why why? Let me tell ya…

Way back in 1981-82 I was at the peak of discovering movies, my early teens, lots of nights staying up watching HBO, renting the new fangled VHS movies, it was a very impressionable time. I will admit that any movie with a hint of gore, or sex, or any adult theme was on my hit list. No matter how late I had to stay awake on a school night, no matter how many late fees we got at the local grocery store for kept video tapes, it was worth it.

An American Werewolf in London was an instant love affair for me. The opening title sequence of long shots of the English countryside with the music Blue moon, the combination of that and what little I did know of the movie I was transfixed. Did that feeling change in the past 28 years? Nope. The title sequence comes on, the music starts, and I’m that girl again eyes wide open, smile on my face. Awesome.

Meeting David and Jack for the first time, two young dudes backpacking across Europe, it was like I was seeing someone at a class reunion. It seemed like a more innocent time, but then again, probably just because I was so young and I associate certain movies with that time in my life. In fact, now that I think of it, this movie is pivotal for me. I was young, they were young. I was naive, they were naive. I would soon hit those tough years of changing into an adult, and they are bitten by a beast that transforms them into a zombie and a werewolf. Well, the parallels might not be that clear to anyone else, but I see it clearly.

Now, don’t mistake my fluffy feelings for the movie for John Landis’s intentions. He has never said this movie is more than a story around the idea of showing a more modern depiction of the transformation of a man into a werewolf. I don’t think there is any sentimentality in the origins of the story, so I won’t pretend I’ve stumbled on some long lost meanings. I attached my own experiences, reactions, emotions, and stage in life. All that piled on top is probably why I still love it so much.

The creepy pub in the middle of nowhere with a 5 pointed star on the wall and very over-acted parts of creepy locals, that’s just classic. The super formality of the doctor and nurses in the London hospital, this is definitely the start of my affection for all things British (fast forward to 2000 when I married a Brit :)). A nurse who asks the young American to come stay with her after knowing him just a short while, followed by a very 80’s sex scene, that’s just the kind of life lessons every young girl needs to face the big bad world of adulthood.

I can’t leave out the gruesome and funny zombie friend (Griffin Dunn) who haunts the pending werewolf (David Naughton). Not only is the make-up job excellent, the idea is just plain fabulous. A smart mouthed dead friend coming around to tell his pal that unless he kills himself he will turn into a werewolf and kill people!!! My head spins when I think back to those first dozen times I watched it and bought into it hook, line, and sinker.

The complaints I have about the movie are very few and very common amongst lovers of it. There are things in the story that are unsatisfying, for sure. The characters, while interesting, are very functional and not very deep. Not that I need a deep meaningful dialogue from a werewolf or zombie, but you know what I”m saying. It’s all kind of shallow, something I only notice now that I’ve crossed the 40 year old mark, I never did care before.

I can’t complain about this flick, not really. It’s part of my youth, part of my growing up, part of my life. Yes, movies do mean that much to me to be come woven into my perception of life and whatnot. If you think back on movies you saw as a kid, you might find the same connection. I know this movie will always fill a spot in my youthful memories. I thrilled that it stands the test of time.

Audio & Video: 8/10 (By Ascully)
The full moon edition of An American Werewolf In London was actually quite impressive on Blu-Ray disc. At first I thought wow the picture on this movie is really noisy (especially the opening credits) but then you realize that most of the noise is film grain which fortunately has not been digitally removed as it preserves the look and feel of this early 80’s film.

I actually grew up with this movie as it was one of the first VHS tapes we owned in the 1980’s and I have sat through various home video presentations of the film throughout the years, the Blu-Ray is easily the best I have seen and without a full restoration the few flaws that are visible actually add to the experience. One thing I really noticed were how the colors are much better than even the DVD release which came out a few years ago. If you are a fan of the movie you cant go wrong with this release.

Audio while not as impressive as some of today’s blockbusters, still sounds great mixed using DTS-HD Master Audio, the scene when they are walking at night never sounded better with wolf sounds coming from all over the room. The movie features quite a few music tracks (including 3 different versions of Blue Moon and the awesome Bad Moon Rising) which all sound great much better than I remember from the older releases of this movie.

If you were a teenager in the 1980’s I am sure you are already picking this up as we speak, the rest of you what are you waiting for 🙂

Value: 10/10
It doesn’t matter how much it costs….I want it. You might be in a state of shock right now, that is if you ever read my other reviews. I simply cannot NOT have this classic from my youth at the ready for watching anytime I want to flash back to the days when movies were as much a part of my life education as “real life” wished it could be.

The Blu-Ray is a good deal at just below 20 bucks! So, my need for the movie won’t break my debit card in half! The extras are just that, extras on top of an already super terrific movie experience. 🙂

Overall Score 10/10