American Werewolf in London, An: 20th Anniversary Special Edition (1981)

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Released 1-Feb-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio-Bad Moon Rising
Audio Commentary-David Naughton and Griffin Dunn
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Outtakes
Interviews-Crew-John Landis, Rick Baker
Featurette-Focus On Technical Effects
Storyboard Comparisons
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1981
Running Time 98:12 (Case: 91)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (72:17) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John Landis
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring David Naughton
Jenny Agutter
Griffin Dunne
John Woodvine
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $39.95 Music Elmer Bernstein


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan Encoded English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Dutch
Swedish
Norwegian
Danish
Finnish
English Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Swedish Audio Commentary
Norwegian Audio Commentary
Danish Audio Commentary
Finnish Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

††† An American Werewolf In London is a modern remake of the Universal Pictures classic, The Wolfman. Several people have tried to remake Dracula and Frankenstein with mixed results, but many consider this to be one of the most successful attempts at remaking a classic monster movie. I would have to agree.

††† If you don't know the common elements of a werewolf movie story line, I'll throw them down here for you. For all those monster-savvy folk, feel free to skip to the next bit. Here goes: wolf attacks man, man turns into wolf, there's a chase scene that usually features villagers, and finally, well, let's just say the story concludes.

††† None of this is going to convince you to watch this movie. What makes this version worth watching is John Landis' skilful tightrope act of blending just the right amount of comedy and horror, and one of the best werewolf transformation scenes ever committed to celluloid. What makes the transformation more astounding once you've seen it is to realize it was all accomplished without the aid of CGI. Rick Baker earned the very first Oscar ever awarded for best makeup for the special effects makeup featured in this movie; placing him in the forefront of his craft. We are still enjoying his work today in such recent films as Men In Black, Planet of the Apes, and Ron Howard's The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

††† The story drags a bit during the middle of the movie. In fact, after an exciting attack sequence at the beginning of the film, it takes a full hour to get around to the main transformation sequence, but when it comes, it's worth it. Once the wolf is loose, the tension returns to the movie and pays off with some nice wolf-attack action sequences. No, the script isn't strong, and the acting isn't going to win any awards but David Naughton is very convincing when it counts and Griffin Dunne plays the hell out of his part.

††† John Landis' work can truly be considered a showpiece of black comedy. When this movie first showed in the theatres, the newspapers featured stories of people walking out of the theatre because they were uncomfortable with the level of gore. At the same time, there are some truly funny lines uttered by various victims of the werewolf. Yes, I said victims. I won't explain the details here, but this particular plot element really makes this werewolf movie unique.

††† If you are interested in this genre of film, you shouldn't miss this one. You won't be disappointed.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

††† This transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. Sadly, the overall quality of the transfer is average.

††† The sharpness of the image is lacking and uneven. Most of the movie is only moderately sharp, with the occasional shot like the one at 52:15 that is crystal clear. The shadow detail appears flat due to the noticeable level of grain throughout.

††† Colour appears accurately presented here most of the time. There is the occasional shot where most of the colour appears washed out. This appears to be present in the source material, as it occurs in the same hospital room set at different times in the film.

††† There was a noticeable level of telecine wobble over the opening credits. It was also noticeable during some of the opening sequences on the moors as well, if you really looked for it. A few aliasing artefacts were observed, like on the edge of a candle flame at 7:46 or along the edge of a sleeve of a coat at 105:17, but this was not distracting for the most part. Edge enhancement reared its ugly head in a few shots like the one at 22:53, but again was not overly distracting.

††† Now we get to the most troublesome aspect of this transfer. From the very first frame, itís obvious we are viewing a transfer from an old print. Almost no care has been taken to clean up all the dust and scratches on this print. One example of this can be seen at 10:33 in the lower right of the screen. There are too many instances of this artefact to list all of them here, but one particularly distracting problem is worth sighting. At least once in almost every scene, there is an oval blotch that flashes for a single frame.Itís not always in the same place in the frame, but it almost always shows up before a scene is finished. Examples can be found around 10:17 and 20:25. Because itís only a single frame, you arenít sure if you are seeing it or not, and it becomes very distracting to the DVD purist.

††† Subtitles are offered here in English for the Hearing Impaired, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, and Finnish.

††† This is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed at 72:17. It takes place before the end of a scene just as a doctor is hanging up the phone. Curiously, the scene ends about 30 seconds later, and would have been a much less distracting place for the layer change. As it stands, the change is slightly noticeable as his arm pauses in mid-hangup.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

††† This is a good audio transfer, and generally supports the film quite nicely.

††† There are only two audio tracks available, English in 5.1 Dolby Digital, and a commentary track presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround. The default is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Music and wolf howls take full advantage of this mix, however, they stand out dramatically to the rest of the soundtrack. Dialogue and Foley are strictly limited to the front sound stage. Busy pub scenes and rainstorms, which lend themselves nicely to a surround mix seem claustrophobic and flattened when limited in this way on a 5.1 mix.Itís also jarring when excellent music choices like Bobby Vinton's Blue Moon kicks in in full Dolby 5.1. That said, all those 5.1 mixes of the vintage rock and roll songs with the word ďmoonĒ in them are definitely one of the better aspects of the soundtrack, and a joy to listen to.

††† The dialogue was always clear and easy to understand.†

††† There were no audio sync problems observed.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

††† 16x9 enhanced animated menus with the song ďBad Moon RisingĒ playing. I feel the need to comment on the menu navigation on this disc because it was particularly cumbersome. Before reaching each submenu for the extras, you must choose what language you would like your subtitles displayed in, and itís not immediately clear that the small ďXĒ in the box down in the lower right corner is the way to indicate that you donít prefer any subtitles with your extras.

Actor's Commentary

††† This commentary is done by David Naughton and Griffin Dunne. They do reveal some interesting facts about the production of the film. Iíd rate the content of this track as mildly interesting and slightly above average.

Behind the Scenes

††† Run of the mill promotion piece produced during the making of the movie. It includes portions of an interview with John Landis on set while filming the movie.

Outtakes

††† Some interesting behind the scenes footage that reveals some of magic behind bringing the wolf to life, and demonstrates the crewís sense of humour. These are presented in a non-anamorphic 1.85:1 ratio. The image quality is above average for outtakes.

Interview with John Landis

††† This is a retrospective interview that is interesting when contrasted against the interview included in the behind the scenes feature.

Interview with Rick Baker

††† Another retrospective interview that allows a glimpse into the opinion Rick Baker holds of his work in this film. He talks about his interest in getting the chance to do a similar type of transformation scene using the makeup and CGI techniques available today. Quite a promising proposition.

Focus on Technical Effects

††† Footage of the casting of David Naughtonís hand and arm. Probably the least interesting of the extra features. Various full bodied sculptures of the wolf from the film can be seen in the background of the shop.

Storyboard to Film Comparison

††† This feature demonstrates how little storyboarding can be done on some movies. While the storyboards remain simple, the movie shows a rather complex action sequence.

Still Gallery

††† Not much new revealed in these photos. Most are either scenes from the film, or shots of the director and producers standing in the sets.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

††† The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

††† The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

††† The DTS soundtrack on the Region 1 disc is far superior to the 5.1 Dolby surround track. While dialogue remains all up-front, key Foley elements like wind, machinery, rain, and wolf growls all utilize the rear speakers. Also, the production notes included on the Region 1 disc are informative, and add more information that the other features didnít include. Finally, aesthetically, the menus on the Region 1 disc navigate and appear more professional and polished than the Region 4 disc. Iím going to have to go with the Region 1 disc on this one.

Summary

††† An American Werewolf in London is a welcome addition to the growing Australian DVD catalogue, and definitely makes this DVD worth buying.

The video transfer suffers slightly from grain, dirt, and dust artefacts.

The audio track, while suffering from an uneven use of surround, features some outstanding 5.1 mixes of vintage rock and roll tunes.

The extras are adequate.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Jeff Montgomery (Bio)
Saturday, January 05, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-C670P, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, displayed on a flat white wall. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationSony STR DE-845
SpeakersFront - Teac LS-S1000F, Centre - Teac LS-C1000, Rears -Teac LS S1000R, Subwoofer - Teac LS-W1000 (passive)

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Comments (Add)
I got excited when the warning label said high level sex scenes BUT ... ... -
Re: I got excited when the warning label said high level sex scenes BUT ... ... -
Glitch? - chaossphere