An American Werewolf In London

Viewed – 10 October 2009  Blu-ray

If there was a top ten best horror movies of all time, I think few would disagree with me that this would be in the top five.  Directed in 1981 by John Landis, pretty much no film about werewolves has been able to capture the magic of this entry, one of the few horror movies to be both scary and funny.  Griffin Dunne and David Naughton play two American back packers who are attacked on the moors one night during a full moon.  Suffice to say, David survives but is cursed to becoming a werewolf, yet chooses to ignore the warnings of his undead friend whilst falling for a nurse (Jenny Agutter). 


Played with tongue firmly in cheek but with moments of genuine scares and top-notch gore, this movie works so well, and hasn’t dated one bit.  Landis’ accomplished imagery, a script filled with quotable lines such as ‘a naked american man stole my balloons!’, ‘Beware the moon’ etc as well as the moon-themed soundtrack that kicks in at exactly the right time, forms a perfect recipe of uncomfortable comedy, with an atmosphere all it’s own.  Much has been said about Rick Baker’s Oscar winning make up effects, and now even 28 years later, it still looks fantastic, not only the much acclaimed werewolf transformation, but also the moments of gore and violence (especially Griffin Dunne’s first undead appearance).  Add to this top acting marks from the three principal leads, with a never sexier Jenny Agutter, and well, what can I say – this movie is a classic.

The Blu-ray has an obviously improved picture from the previous 21st anniversary edition, being both brighter and sharper but retains much of the flaws of the original print, such as heavy grain, a slight shimmering effect and subdued colours.  The DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack however shines with clear dialogue and a punchy result from the numerous music moments.  Most importantly though for this release is that in addition to the extras carried over from the DVD we get a brand new feature-length documentary, making this currently the best release of the movie to date.

Verdict:  5 /5

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