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DVD Review: National Lampoon’s Animal House 30th Anniversary Edition Gift Set

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National Lampoon's Animal House is a film that grabbed college-level America and never let go. The film is iconic, memorable, and more importantly, one of the greatest comedies of all time. It’s characters, including the memorable Bluto played by John Belushi, meant going to college would never be the same.

Read the full movie review here.

For this 30th Anniversary Edition, it seems Universal has cleaned the film up ever so slightly. While the HD DVD didn’t look great, it’s obvious that this DVD edition is using a better source. The print looks clearer, with less dirt and fewer imperfections. While the lower resolution (why isn’t this on Blu-ray?) means it’s not that sharp, there is some minor detail. Color looks slightly richer, although it’s still rather flat. Contrast is weak, and the black levels are meager at best. It’s about what you would expect for a 30-year-old low-budget comedy.

There’s no discernable difference in audio from one edition to the next. The same 5.1 mix has been used here with little effect. Crowded parties remain flat and sit in the fronts. The soundtrack has a mild surround bleed to it, although it’s hardly noticeable. The high end is noticeably strained (glass breaking effects are muffled beyond repair).

Housed inside a large box that’s been modeled after the Delta House (complete with Lampoon-style art), this latest re-release is well worth buying, and not just for the box. Inside, you’ll find the new two-disc DVD, and the Faber College Yearbook. It takes stills from the film and turns them into what looks like an actual yearbook, only if the Deltas got their hands on it first.

Many of the extras on the discs are carried over from the Double Secret Probation DVD. Where Are They Now? is a "documentary" of a different kind. It lets the actors reprise their roles from the film to update the audience as to what they've been doing since, all while in character. It's a great piece, and not only to see the actors again. They obviously loved playing these characters if they were willing to play along for this. At a half hour, this is a great addition to the film.

An Animal House Reunion is a look at the making of the film itself, its repeated rejections by studios, and eventual success. Interviews with cast, crew, and writers are prevalent. New are two small editions of the Scene-it DVD game, complete with nothing but questions pertaining to the film.

The real gem here is Animal House: The Inside Story. This 98-minute documentary is the absolute complete documentary on the film. While some of the stories do repeat from Reunion, the amount of depth to this piece nearly warrants its own review. Small cast members, including the small kid who reads the Playboy during the parade, are tracked down for interviews. While some of the cast are missing (Kevin Bacon, Donald Sutherland), it’s as complete and as entertaining as it could possibly be.

The only thing keeping from a complete Animal House DVD is a remake of the song “Shout” that was included on a prior release (not a loss) and a trivia track that was on the HD DVD. A commentary would have been nice too, but that’s wishful thinking and honestly unneeded given the depth of the documentary.

The film couldn’t find anywhere to shoot because all of the schools they tried rejected it. They eventually ended up at Oregon because the Dean had previously turned down letting a studio shoot The Graduate and didn’t want to make the same mistake twice. He let them on campus without even reading the script.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.
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