An American Werewolf in London (1981) | 4K Blu-ray Review


Arrow is back with another limited edition release on the 4K Ultra HD format. While we already had the limited release of the Blu-ray copy, let’s see if this release, in its full resolution glory improves on the already very good Arrow Blu-ray.


If after checking out the review, you decide to pick it up, you can find it here*: Buy it here!

An American Werewolf in London 4K Blu-ray cover art

Tech Specs:

Format(s):UltraHD/4K Blu-ray (BD-100)
Released By:Arrow Video
Release Date:March 15th, 2022
Video Format / Codec:H.265 (HEVC)
Resolution:Native 4K, 2160/24p
Digital Intermediate (DI):4K (from negatives)
High-Dynamic Range (HDR):Dolby Vision (MEL), HDR10
Aspect Ratio:1.85:1
Audio Format(s):English (4K/BR):
DTS-HD MA 1.0 Mono (48kHz, 24-bit)
DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround (48kHz, 24-bit)
Subtitles:English SDH
Packaging:Single-disc snapcase with rigid slipbox
Booklet
Poster
Art Cards
Region Coding:Region-free

Video Review:

Diving into the video on this release, the first thing that will immediately jump out to you about this 4K remaster is the very heavy grain structure present on this transfer, especially during those optically printed credit scenes and special effects. While the grain throughout most of the feature is mostly well managed, it does push up to being a bit distracting during the aforementioned sequences. Thankfully that distraction is not throughout the runtime. Once getting into the main run of the movie, the grain is much more controlled, while still presenting as filmic and organic. Underneath that grain we get a decent amount of detail. Skin textures, clothing details, practical effects all are refined, although not as sharp as I would hope they could be and not much more than their existing Blu-ray. Is the detail better than that Blu-ray? Yes. But I would not call it a significant enhancement.

On the color front, overall the movie is a touch darker, but the colors pop just a bit more which proved to be a more enjoyable experience for me, but I would not call it oversaturated or even overly vibrant given the vintage and cinematic choices made on the film. Still, the bright colors of balloons, red of blood, and even the blue tone of moonlight were all rich and pleasing. Neutral remained mostly that, with the whites of doctor’s coats and nurses’ uniforms coming through as bright, but natural and fire getting a nicely toned orange with the various shades of reds, yellows and whites providing a nice color depth.

On the dynamic range front, this Dolby Vision enabled encode handles black and white levels well, especially on the darker end of the range. Whites never get that much more bright than the standard Blu-ray, but blacks dive down a bit deeper and shadow details, when present, are more refined without needing for the blacks to get elevated. Bright lights get a nice bunch especially the neon lights of London towards the end of the film all look rich and provide a nice intensity without being over the top.

There is no included Blu-ray in this limited edition release, typical of Arrow’s releases (and one that does draw my ire) so if you are looking to get the companion Blu-ray version you would need to double dip for the 2019 release. While Arrow likes to emblazon the word “NEW” on their packaging in relation to the remaster, that’s all relative as it is the same transfer used for that release.

Video Score (4K): 4.3 / 5 (Very Good)


Audio Review:

On board this release we once again get two audio tracks, with the 5.1 surround mix and the original mono mix both coming via DTS-HD Master Audio. Both tracks sound to be the same as we had on the past Blu-ray from Arrow and some share the same pros and cons of those mixes. The surround mix is good, but not great, providing a daily front forward experience with still a relatively narrow separation in the sound stage. The surrounds do come into play, and while I did not find it to be as immersive as it could have been, there is a decent usage for both score and environmental effects. The mono mix is my preferred of the two as it is more representative of the original experience while not missing much from the “newer” surround format. Both mixes come with clear dialog up front and a decent fullness given the vintage of the film.  

For those who may upmix, I would say this does not really benefit much from the process and would say if you prefer the surround experience, I would stick with the 5.1 mix as it exists on the disc, unless your upmixer is on by default. Either way, you will not get a significantly different experience.

Audio Score (4K): 3.9 / 5 (Good)

Special Features and Packaging:

Arrow did load up this release with a bunch of extras, although the list is very similar (if not exactly the same) as the 2019 Blu-ray release. As there is only one disc, they are all found on the 4K disc, although the extras are in 1080p at their maximum. Though not gaining much if you own the existing Blu-ray if this is your first time grabbing an Arrow release of this film, there is a ton here to dive into and enjoy as a fan of the film. From the audio commentaries to the 75+ minute retrospective to behind the scenes featurettes, interviews, trailers and more, it will take you quite some time to consume it all and much of it I found to be re-watchable. 


For packaging and physical extras, if you have owned another Arrow Limited Edition release you are certainly going to know what you are getting with custom art adorning the rigid slipbox, a booklet filled with imagery and essays from behind the scenes, some art cards, a poster and artwork carrying through to the case and the disc. Overall it all feels very premium and in line with what we would expect from these sets and their more premium price tags.

Features Score: 4.8 / 5 (Reference)

Buy/Upgrade-worthiness:

This one is a bit of a split recommendation based on whether or not you already own the existing Arrow Blu-ray. Is this release better? Yes, and so if you don’t own that disc, then this is the better option of the two (unless you need the 1080p disc for compatibility) as you get everything you have there, plus more refinement in the image detail and coloring. But, this is not likely as worth it conspiring the $30+ price tag if you are double dipping. The 2019 Blu-ray was already very very good and the improvements here are more minor. So unless you can get a pretty good deal on it, or you are a die hard fan, it feels a bit much to add this on top of that existing release. Now if you own one of the older Universal releases, this is a better release and worthwhile at the price. As usual, I would expect Arrow to also release a standard edition of this down the road, so if you are on the fence, you can also wait for that to become available and pick it up then.

Buy Recommendation: Yes
Upgrade Recommendation: Possibly… (Yes, if you own the Universal, probably not if you own the 2019 Arrow)

If after checking out the review, you decide to pick it up, you can find it here*: Buy it here!

Summary and Overall Scores:

As usual with Arrow’s release we have a very solid release. While it is not perfect or a reference material on the audio and video side of things, this is definitely the best this film has looked in a home format. Depending on your love of the film and budget this may make a nice addition to your collection.

Experience Score**: 4.3 / 5  (Very Good)

** Experience score does not take into account the quality of the film itself, just the technical presentation, packaging and included features.


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