While there have been several special editions of An American Werewolf in London over the years on DVD and Blu-ray, Arrow’s new Limited Edition Blu-ray set is the ultimate edition as yet, with a jack load of special features and a hardback case that binds the disc, a book, and a fold out poster.
Plot: American tourists David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) are savaged by an unidentified vicious animal whilst hiking on the Yorkshire Moors.
Review: Two young American backpackers are touring Europe, and take some time to explore the moors of England when they are both viciously attacked by a beast of some kind. The portents and warnings were there: It’s a full moon, and the locals were spooked by their appearance just moments before, and they receive and ignore ominous warning to “stay away from the moors,” but to no avail. Jack (Griffin Dunne) is savagely killed and mutilated, while David (David Naughton) survived with some scratches. The beast is killed by the locals, but the impossible seems to happen: the dead beast changes to a deceased man. Three weeks later, and David wakes up at the hospital, where he’s told that he was attacked by a crazed maniac, but he knows what he saw, and he can’t forget it. He’s soon visited by the grisly visage of Jack’s ghost (or spirit, or something), and he’s told that he must take his own life or he will perpetuate the curse of what he has become … a werewolf. David shrugs it off as crazy talk, some kind of hallucination, but it sticks with him. As a bonus, David catches the eye of his attractive nurse (Jenny Agutter), who decides to take him home for a fling, but the next night is the first full moon of the month, and David experiences the horror of his transformation and what happens when he becomes a werewolf: he goes outside and promptly slays and slashes six people, and wakes up at the zoo in the morning, with no memory of what happened. When he hears about the murders in London, he knows that Jack was right, and that he must be stopped at all costs.
A benchmark horror film from the 1980’s, and one of the most significant werewolf movies of all time, An American Werewolf in London is an odd hybrid of comedy and horror, because it’s ultimately a tragedy that is less tongue and cheek than you’d expect from writer / director John Landis, who at the time was coming off of a hot streak after Animal House and The Blues Brothers. There is indeed some levity in the film, but it’s vividly graphic in its violence (especially the aftermath stuff, thanks to Rick Baker’s incredible make-up work), and it has either one of the greatest endings of all time, or one of the worst. You’ll have to decide that yourself. In my calculation, this film features the greatest werewolf transformation ever captured on film, followed by The Howling and The Company of Wolves, with an honorary mention to the original The Wolf Man. I’ve seen this film several times over the years, and it still niggles me at how truncated it feels. There’s more story to tell here somewhere, but Landis deemed fit to end it the way he did.
While there have been several special editions of An American Werewolf in London over the years on DVD and Blu-ray, Arrow’s new Limited Edition Blu-ray set is the ultimate edition as yet, with a jack load of special features and a hardback case that binds the disc, a book, and a fold out poster. Here’s a list of the entire contents in the limited edition set:
New 2018 4K restoration from the original camera negative supervised by John Landis
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original uncompressed 1.0 mono and optional 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
Optional subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
New audio commentary by Beware the Moon filmmaker Paul Davis
Audio Commentary by actors David Naughton and Griffin Dunne
Mark of The Beast: The Legacy of the Universal Werewolf, newly produced, feature-length documentary by filmmaker Daniel Griffith, featuring interviews with John Landis, David Naughton, Joe Dante and more
An American Filmmaker in London, a newly filmed interview with John Landis in which he reflects on his time working in Britain and British cinema
I Think He’s a Jew: The Werewolf’s Secret, new video essay by filmmaker Jon Spira (Elstree 1976) about how Landis’ film explores Jewish identity
The Werewolf’s Call, Corin Hardy, director of The Nun, chats with writer Simon Ward about their formative experiences with Landis’ film
Wares of the Wolf, new featurette in which SFX artist Dan Martin and Tim Lawes of The Prop Store look at some of the original costumes and special effects artefacts from the film
Beware the Moon, Paul Davis’ acclaimed, feature-length exploration of Landis’ film which boasts extensive cast and crew interviews
Making An American Werewolf in London, a short archival featurette on the film’s production
An Interview with John Landis, a lengthy archival interview with the director about the film
Makeup Artist Rick Baker on An American Werewolf in London, the legendary make-up artist discusses his work on the film
I Walked with a Werewolf, an archival interview with the make-up artist about Universal horror and its legacy of Wolfman films
Casting of the Hand, archival footage from Rick Baker’s workshop as they cast David Naughton’s hand
Original trailers, teasers and radio spots
Extensive image gallery featuring over 200 stills, posters and other ephemera
Reversible sleeve featuring original poster art and artwork by Graham Humphreys
Double-sided fold-out poster
Six double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproductions
Limited 60-page booklet featuring new writing by Travis Crawford and Simon Ward, archival articles and original reviews