Thursday, January 7, 2010

Review - The Howling (1981)

So, I finally got done watching a film that I tried watching so many times but always fell asleep. Possibly because, back then, this movie was boring for me but now I finally made it all the way through The Howling. I actually really enjoyed this movie and I do agree that it is the greatest werewolf movies out there. It’s about a new anchor named Karen who suffered a very traumatizing incident with a serial killer/stalker. Her psychiatrist then recommends that she should loosen up and attend a secret retreat known as The Colony. But, her friends soon discover that her killer, Eddie, is connected with The Colony and the Colony may be associated with werewolves.

I think the reason why I thought this movie was really boring was because of its really slow build up to anything scary. It’s not until the 30-minute mark where you get anything that’s really werewolf related, but when it does it delivers a punch. As the story progresses it build up the tension and really studies on it’s main heroine an after a while you begin to somewhat go as crazy she is after seeing all of her dreams. You begin to feel for her and you want her to try to express herself. The film puts you right there in the mood.

I really liked the look of the werewolves because they look sort of like hairy, man-sized jackals… sort of like the ones seen in The Mummy Returns. You can tell they are men in costumes but this is the 80’s, however, I think it does have a very strange and painful transformation scene. It’s not like American Werewolf in London but it is quite painful when you see Eddie’s skin bubble up. The film came out before American Werewolf so you can’t really say it’s a rip-off but it’s still good.

The Howling owes a lot to classic werewolf cinema as well and there is even a slight homage to Corman’s Bucket of Blood. Many of the characters are named after famous directors who have made werewolf related films such as Waggner, Fisher and Francis. They even make a slight but foreshadowing reference to Wolfman Jack. They are funny little in-jokes that many horror fans would love and it was pretty cool to see Dick Miller in another horror film.

As far as setting goes, I like it. Again, I want to mention American Werewolf for one reason: when the group is out walking around in the moors of Scotland… it seems like they are in their own little world as does this retreat in The Howling. The tall trees, the picturesque beach front and the campfire parties, it’s all secluded from big towns and cities but in the same way it’s in its own world. Plus, Dante really manipulates the woods to the point of creating a sense of isolation and fear. Honestly, there were times when I swear I could smell pine.

Dante’s The Howling is a great movie and it is one of the best werewolf movies out there because it’s a werewolf movie done right without having ritz and glitz. If you haven’t seen it, I strongly encourage you to do so however, I know a lot of the younger generation of horror fans may find it boring and slow paced so be warned. I was once like that once. Look at the movie as part horror and part drama and for me the best part, and possibly one of the scarier parts in the movie, is when Slim Pickens shows his fangs and a horde of werewolves attack the heroine’s car.

Note: The coincidental similarities that The Howling has with American Werewolf in London.


Scott said...

I have always been a HUGE fan of this movie. It was one of the first that I saw on the big screen, and my mom took my sister and I to it. We saw it in an old Chicago theater that no longer stands:

Good times...

Anonymous said...

Aftering reading this article I wanted to share a website with you'll that I thought was really cool! In honor of The Wolfman’s upcoming release, is accepting votes for its Tournament of Werewolves! What will happen when Larry Talbot (The Wolf Man) goes head-to-head with Eddie Quist (The Howling)?!? Will David Kessler (American Werewolf in London) be the ultimate hirsute hero?? Everyone who is a Werewolf movie fan should vote!!

Edward said...

I hope there will be new good prefessional makeup special effects artists and puppetry fx artists to make hundreds of many good horror werewolf films soon.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, I think they should use hundreds of more air-bladders fx and makeup fx to make thousands of new werewolf beast movies; come up with a good storylines, and get some new good actors.

Anonymous said...

LOVED Eddie Quist's Transformation! They really ought to do billions and billions of more weird beast transformations horror films like this one.

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