Day 19 – The Howling (1981)

I’m not usually a werewolf movie kind of person, but my interest in this movie was piqued on its inclusion in the 4-hour 80s horror documentary In Search of Darkness. I recently bought this from Shout Factory and decided to play it for horror movie club.

Dee Wallace stars in The Howling as Karen White, a TV news anchor who recently had a traumatic run-in with some pervert. When she can’t remember the details, her psychiatrist suggests she stay at “the colony” out in the country to try to remember. We soon find out the colony is full of werewolves, and the rest of the film follows Karen and her coworker, Chris, as they fight their way out of the colony.

You can’t talk about The Howling without talking about the special effects. I learned from In Search of Darkness that originally Rick Baker was supposed to do the special effects but left the film early on to do An American Werewolf in London. At that point, the director, Joe Dante, brought on Rob Bottin, who worked with him on Piranha. The Howling is always being compared to An American Werewolf in London, probably because they’re both werewolf movies released in the same year, 1981. Another reason they are always compared is because of their elaborate transformation scenes. The Howling’s famous transformation scene is impressive in its intricacy with the bubbling face and inhuman eye rolls, but it’s almost comical in its length. Karen White stands idly by for about 3 full minutes while the pervert, Eddie, morphs into a monster. She could have been a little more proactive in her self defense during this time, but Dante knows why we’re watching. We want to see the complete gross details of how a man changes into a werewolf.

Aside from the engrossing special effects, the movie is fun to watch, especially with this cast. As I’ve already mentioned, Dee Wallace stars as the main character, but we also have other horror favorites like John Carradine, Kevin McCarthy, and Dick Miller as a no-nonsense occult book shop owner.

This movie was fun. I can see myself going back to it for comfort watching in the future. I’m definitely late to the game on The Howling, but better late than never, right?

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