National Lampoon’s Animal House appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. Only the limitations of the source impacted this faithful reproduction.
For the most part, sharpness worked fine, as only modest instances of softness materialized, and as noted, these reflected the original product. Overall delineation seemed appropriate and accurate.
No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and I saw no edge haloes. Grain felt natural, and I saw no print flaws.
Colors went with an appropriately subdued vibe, as they largely went with a somewhat rusty autumnal tone. The hues seemed well-represented for the movie’s design choices, and HDR brought extra power and heft to the hues.
Blacks appeared deep and dense, while shadows worked fine. Low-light shots could be a bit thick, but again, that came from the source.
HDR added range and impact to whites and contrast. This never became a demo product, but the 4K gave us an accurate take on the source.
Downconverted to DTS-HD MA 7.1, the 4K included a DTS X soundtrack that reworked the original monaural audio. This remix failed to reinvent any wheels.
The side speakers featured some mild stereo imaging for music, though only Elmer Bernstein’s score offered genuinely positive delineation. The pop songs heard on the track sounded more like semi-stereo to me, as they spread to the sides but failed to display clear separation.
Effects didn’t do much, either, as they created a minor sense of ambience and that was about it. The surrounds remained fairly passive, as they never made themselves known in a vivid way through the film.
Music spread to the rear in a modest manner, and effects like D-Day’s motorcycle also moved to the back channels in a semi-engaging manner. However, the soundscape didn’t do a ton to stretch beyond its monaural roots.
At least audio quality seemed pretty good. Speech came across as natural and warm, though some dubbed lines distracted.
Music was fairly robust and full, especially in terms of Bernstein’s score, as those aspects fared the best. Effects tended to be more lackluster, but they remained perfectly acceptable given their vintage. At no point did this soundtrack excel, but I felt it sounded good enough for an age-adjusted “B-“.
Unfortunately, the 4K continued a trend that meant the original monaural audio remained absent. Prior DVDs included that track, but the Blu-ray dropped it and the 4K didn’t return it.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the 2011 Blu-ray? Though the DTS X track theoretically expanded the 5.1 mix on the Blu-ray, the limited nature of the soundfield meant they sounded pretty similar.
Visuals became a different matter, as the 4K delivered obvious upgrades in terms of sharpness, colors and general accuracy. The Blu-ray came with overuse of noise reduction and felt oddly perky.
That meant the Blu-ray just “felt wrong”, as a flick like Animal House shouldn’t look peppy and shiny. The 4K corrects those mistakes.
As we head to extras, we find an Animal House edition of the Scene It? game. This offers a mix of questions about the flick.
We also get some minor trivia facts about the film as well. The game provides moderate fun, but its inclusion here almost feels more like an ad for the Scene It? series than an actual bonus feature. Don’t expect much from it.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we get the 23-minute, 27-second Where Are They Now? A Delta Alumni Update. Landis tells us that he wants to update his “documentary”, so we find out what happened to some of the movie’s characters. I won’t tell more than that since I don’t want to ruin surprises, but I will say that it’s amusing and a lot of fun.
Next we get a documentary called The Yearbook: An Animal House Reunion. This 45-minute, 18-second show includes notes frpm director John Landis, producers Ivan Reitman and Matty Simmons, writers Chris Miller and Harold Ramis, Executive in Charge of Production Sean Daniel, head of production Thom Mount, script supervisor Katherine Wooten-Beattie, casting director Michael Chinich, editor George Folsey, Jr., John Belushi’s widow Judith Belushi Pisano, costume designer Deborah Nadoolman, composer Elmer Bernstein, and actors Kevin Bacon, Peter Riegert, Karen Allen, Stephen Furst, James Widdoes, John Vernon, Tim Matheson, Mark Metcalf, Verna Bloom, and Bruce McGill.
“Yearbook” looks at the project’s origins and script development, getting backing for the flick and bringing Landis on board, cast, characters and performances, locations and anecdotes from the shoot, Landis’s work on the film, editing and score, and the movie’s reception/legacy.
“Yearbook” provides a pretty good look at the flick. I like the inclusion of most significant participants, and it moves at a brisk pace. The show covers most of the important areas and does so in an entertaining and informative manner. This is a very good little documentary.
The included Blu-ray copy comes with a domain unavailable on the 4K: U-Control. This allows for interactive access to the components as the movie runs. “The Music of Animal House” provides simple credits for the songs that we get in the film. The pop-up captions tell us the names of the tunes as well as the performers. It’s a lackluster addition.
Video footage shows up within the “Scene Companion”. This presents comments from Simmons, Reitman, Miller, Landis, McGill, Furst, Widdoes, Vernon, Riegert, Matheson, Belushi Pisano, Folsey, Allen, Bacon, Ramis, Bloom, and Metcalf. “Companion” simply takes clips from “Yearbook” and spreads them out across the movie. That makes it redundant and not especially useful.
The 4K UHD continues to leave off some features from earlier DVDs. It drops a subtitle commentary, a music video, and some text components. The omission of these components surprises – and disappoints – me. I especially miss the subtitle commentary, as it was pretty good.
One of cinema’s enduring comedy classics, I think National Lampoon’s Animal House holds up pretty well after 44 years. While I don’t believe it’s quite as good as its legend indicates, it does amuse. The 4K UHD offers solid visuals along with decent audio and some good supplements. The absence of the original monaural audio keeps this release from greatness, but it still becomes the best version on the market.
To rate this film visit the DVD review of ANIMAL HOUSE