The Howling (DVD, 2003, Special Edition) Reviews
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The Howling (DVD, 2003, Special Edition)

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A Mixed Breed Werewolf Movie. THE HOWLING

Aug 28, 2010 (Updated Oct 24, 2010)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Scary as ****.  And that is the bottom line, right?

Cons:Dated, and probably due for a remake.

The Bottom Line: While suffering from the passage of years, this is still one of the best werewolf movies out there.  Give it a try.


The Howling (1981) Directed by Joe Dante
 
"Silver bullets or fire, that's the only way to get rid of the damn things. They're worse than cock-a-roaches."  Bookstore Owner, on how to kill werewolves.
 
Karen White (Dee Wallace) is a TV news anchorwoman who is on to a hot story.  A serial killer has been terrorizing the Southland in recent months, and now he is calling Karen.  Wired for sound, she is on a mission to help the police capture this psychopath.
 
Of course, we are talking about 1981, and the surveillance equipment is less than reliable, so when Karen heads into an Adult Bookstore to meet Eddie (Robert Piccardo) she doesn't know that her signal has been lost.  So she sits in a dark cubicle, watching rape porn, while a serial killer stands behind her, promising to show her something amazing...and he does...and it is so terrifying that even after he is shot by an over eager rookie cop, she can't remember it.  Her mind won't let her revisit the moment.
 
When she has a flashback on camera and can't continue the news, it is time to seek professional help.
 
Dr. George Waggner (Patrick McNee) has just the solution, a week or two for Karen and her man Bill, (Christopher Stone) up at The Colony, his resort in Northern California .  It will give her a chance to unwind, do a little group therapy, and maybe get her memory back.
 
The Colony seems to be a protected sanctuary for the not quite right.  Some come close to normal, like Donna and Charlie...others are a bit more colourful, like Erle Kenton (John Carradine) an old arthritic man with suicidal tendencies and a sense of drama at odds with his salt of the earth appearance.  T.C, (Don McLeod) who is half feral and tracks by scent, his sister Marsha (Elizabeth Brooks) who looks like a Boris Vallejo poster and is very in touch with her animal instincts...
 
However, as things develop, Karen and Bill realize ‘mentally challenged' doesn't begin to cover everything that is going on at The Colony.  Beyond the personalities involved, there are howls in the night, dead cattle, and Bill is bitten by a wolf.
 
Meanwhile, back in the city, Terry and Chris (Belinda Belaski and Dennis Dugan) are following up on Eddie, who was a talented artist, with a penchant for werewolves.  Things only get more mysterious when Eddie's body, heavy with lead, disappears from the morgue.
 
What, exactly is going on here?
 
The Analysis
 
The Bad.
 
This movie is has an oddly dated feel, not because of clothes, but more to do with attitude... Christopher Stone looks like a Seventies porn star, and Dee Wallace has a diffident air about her totally at odds with her persona as a successful career woman.  This was not as noticeable back in the eighties when you still had women identifying themselves as ‘feminists'.  Now that the precepts are accepted more or less universally, her timid approach is more noticeable, and more annoying.
 
The ending does not live up to the very creepy build up, though the very end is a nice twist.  Still, it let's you down at the climax.
 
The Good.
 
Despite these flaws, this movie succeeds on many levels.  First, the special effects are great; at the time, they were astonishing.  You see a person transform into a werewolf before your eyes, not cutaway, wavery transitions with more hair applied, but rippling flesh and cracking bone (the sound effects really help) and lengthening snouts.
 
Beyond that, there is a creepy air that builds through the first three quarters of the movie that is really remarkable.  Piccardo is a brilliant actor, and gives Eddie a queasy sex predator vibe that just really ramps up the threat level (yeah, the werewolf is going to eat you, but what might he do FIRST?)
 
And as weird and disturbing as the Quist siblings are, there is a pathos to the werewolves; particularly Erle Kenton; old, arthritic, trying to live against the instincts that drive them,  he knows his time is past, but humans aren't allowed the luxury of choosing the time of their deaths.  This empathic connection to the pack is what makes them ultimately more terrifying.
 
So, while it is not a perfect werewolf movie, it is a good one. (Though the only one of the series worth watching.)  If you want something creepy and scary, give this a try.

Full Moon Theatre. Werewolves on the Silver Screen.



Wolves of Wall Street(O)The Howling
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The Wolf Man(O)Dog Soldiers(O)Wolf(O)True Blood
An American Werewolf in Paris(O)Underworld: Rise of the Lycans(O)Underworld(O)An American Werewolf in London
Silver Bullet(O)The Brothers Grimm(O)Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(O)The Brotherhood of the Wolf(O)Wolves of Kromer


Recommend this product? Yes


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