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Overall Rating
3.94

Awesome: 27.45%
Worth A Look50.98%
Average: 11.76%
Pretty Bad: 7.84%
Total Crap: 1.96%

2 reviews, 39 user ratings


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Howling, The
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by Brian McKay

"Better in memory than reality - but still not bad"
4 stars

THE HOWLING is one of those flicks I saw when I was a teenager, thought it was the coolest thing on the planet, and then hadn't seen it since. I was too young to realize that the effects were cheesy and the acting mostly stilted. All I knew, or needed to know, was that this movie had three things that made it awesome: Nudity, Werewolf Sex, and plenty of gore.

It may seem dated and cheesy now, but The Howling deserves some respect for being an innovative modern werewolf flick, and one of the first (if not THE first) to actually show the lycanthrope transformation process in slow, painstaking detail through a combination of clever edits and gooey animatronics.

The Howling begins with a pretty and vacant-eyed reporter named Karen White (played by the pretty and vacant-eyed Dee Wallace), who is trying to meet a serial killer. The murderer has been stalking the streets of L.A. and tearing women to pieces. So of course when he calls the station and requests a meeting with her, alone, she agrees so that she can get the story (never mind the inherent risks of meeting a serial killer on unfamiliar turf). She is followed from a distance by both cops, her husband Bill (future real-life husband Christopher Stone), and her reporter pals Chris (Dennis Dugan) and Terry (Belinda Balaski). She is saved before the killer can act, but not before she witnesses something that leaves her terrified and speechless.

She decides to seek out a celebrity psychologist for help, the pompous Doctor George Waggner (Patrick Macnee) who constantly blathers about "the inner struggle of man against his bestial nature" and plugs his book to whoever will listen. He suggests that Karen and her husband join him and some of his patients up at "the Colony", a little seaside retreat that he owns where people can engage in group therapy and barbecue.

Karen and Bill meet an odd assortment of wackos up at the Colony, including the sexy Marsha (Elisabeth Brooks), who dresses like a gypsy dominatrix and comes on to Bill immediately. Karen soon feels ill at ease at the colony, especially when she hears strange howling noises at night and fearfully tells her husband about them the next day. This prompts one of the films funniest lines, when he replies, "Honey, relax. You grew up in L.A. The wildest thing you've ever heard is Wolfman Jack."

Meanwhile, Chris and Terry investigate the dead serial killer, Eddie Quist (Robert Picardo, when he still had hair), who was shot during Karen's rescue. They find strange drawings of wolf-like creatures all over the walls of his apartment (conveniently getting there before the police do, of course), then go to see his body in the morgue. Surprise, surprise, he's not there anymore. You can't keep a good werewolf down. Their investigation soon leads them to discover what Karen is finding out first hand - the Colony is lousy with werewolves! Her husband is soon seduced by the furry Marcia, leading to one of the best - come to think of it, the ONLY werewolf sex scene I've ever seen. This leaves Karen surrounded by ravenous furballs, with only her wits to keep her alive (and miraculously, she stays that way, because if there's one thing she's short on, it's wits).

The creature effects are mostly laughable by today's standards. Even Dog Soldiers, which was made on the cheap using fairly primitive effects techniques, has much better looking werewolves than these. Still, there are a few cool scenes, especially the drawn out transformation of Eddie into a snarling wolfman, which still looks surprisingly decent.

The story, while nothing special, is still pretty entertaining and has a great double-whammy ending. The performances aren't bad for the most part. Patrick Macnee is quite good (but when has he ever been bad? This is the original John Fucking Steed we're talking about here!). The rest of the cast is adequate, with the exception of Dee Wallace. She traipses through the script with a flat deer-in-the-headlights expression, only punctuated on occasion by screaming or histrionics. Although she later added Stone to her surname, she should have gone by Dee Wallace Stoned, because she perpetually looks it in this film. Still, she's pleasant enough to look at if you like that whole blonde airhead scene. As for Elisabeth Brooks and her werewolf sex scene - AROOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooo. Sadly, Miss Brooks only appeared in a handful of other films before dying of cancer at the age of 46. But what a film legacy to leave behind - SHE HAS WEREWOLF SEX! Oh, and there's also a cameo of B-movie god Roger Corman, who gave director Joe Dante his start by funding the campy classic Hollywood Boulevard (see my review). By the same token, Dick Miller reprises his role as Walter Paisley, the sleazy and hilarious agent from that film, only this time he's running an occult bookstore. All this film needed was an appearance by sexploitation goddess Candice Rialson and her rack, and this would have been a full-blown reunion film. Come to think of it, she could have played Karen better then Wallace did.

Okay, so it wasn't quite as good as AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (which followed a year later), and it ain't no DOG SOLDIERS - but it did help pave the way for both of those films, and for that it earns some props. Still, I fear it will never again be as good as it was the first time. Oh, and be sure and skip the crappy sequels - all six of them.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=2742&reviewer=258
originally posted: 03/17/03 17:53:40
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User Comments

6/26/13 rick ireland also scared 7 year old 5 stars
12/11/12 Lisa Awesome! 5 stars
4/02/12 keith miron Good movie, but I liked An american werewolf in london better 3 stars
10/22/10 art i saw this at a moviehouse in 1981,it was GREAT!i'm ,sorry american/wolf in london! 4 stars
8/20/10 PAUL SHORTT AMUSING HORROR SPOOF WITH CONVINCING SPECIAL EFFECTS 3 stars
5/06/09 art THE HIGHLIGHT IS WHEN THE NEWSLADY BECOMES A WEREWOLF! 3 stars
8/19/08 Shaun Wallner Well Made! 4 stars
5/17/07 Mark Louis Baumgart Better than Wolfen or Werewolf/Paris the other werewolf movies released that year. Classic! 5 stars
4/10/07 David Pollastrini The book was better 3 stars
2/16/07 AJ Muller Scared the shit out of me as a 7 year old. Now I can see the humor/craftmanship. Lotta fun. 4 stars
11/05/06 MP Bartley Thinly drawn but the moments that work are terrific. 4 stars
10/16/06 Sugarfoot Overrated and dull. It really isn't that good, better than the sequels though. 2 stars
6/20/06 cody decent effects , good story, and great direction in this wonderfully made werewolf flick! 4 stars
12/14/05 Steven Lewis Good Werewolf film. A little cheesy but better than most. 4 stars
9/25/05 K. Sear What a crappy, overated movie. 1 stars
7/19/05 Brandy Harrington boring first half, but werewolves are awesome looking! 4 stars
2/26/05 Dave A very good Werewolf movie with exceptional special effects for its time. 4 stars
7/30/04 Jim You go, Dennis Dugan! 5 stars
6/28/04 Dr. Isaksson Then I'm a HOMO eddie...The Company of Wolves is the best Werewolf film. 2 stars
6/10/04 Ryan Clark The best werewolf film ever made- it has great acting, direction, and a sense of humor. 5 stars
5/28/04 himmy good, but stay away from the sequels! 5 stars
4/10/04 American Slasher Goddess Engaging acting,kick ass f/x,scary and atmospheric,it's the best werewolf movie ever made. 5 stars
12/07/03 Samuel I rarely like Werewolf movies...but I liked this one!! 5 stars
10/14/03 Erik Van Sant This and American Werewolf will never be topped. Joe Dante is a genius. 5 stars
9/04/03 eddie undoubtably the BEST werewolf movie ever...if you disagree, your a homo. 5 stars
4/12/03 Jack Sommersby Has its moments but is too disjointed to suitably score. 2 stars
10/23/02 Charles Tatum Better than all its sequels combined 5 stars
1/30/02 Andrew Carden Not Spectacular Or Anything, but Enjoyable Little Horror Flick. 4 stars
1/22/02 Shane Robert Myers!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not as good as Bad Moon but, OK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 3 stars
12/09/01 Keith Pretty cool. The last half is fast-paced and awesome. 4 stars
11/30/01 Rutt13 Wher have the 80's gone...a bit slow, but really cool, nice effects 4 stars
10/29/01 beastmaster Best Werewolf movie made so far!! 5 stars
10/27/01 Jim Most kick-ass nerd ever ... and whoa, that Werewolf Queen! 4 stars
9/30/01 Mohammad J. not all it's cracked up to be 3 stars
8/09/01 E-Funk A classic werewolf movie...Dante is the man, even in the horror genre. 5 stars
6/26/01 Lars Pettersson One of the best suspense-chillers ever! Great atmosphere, great script!!! 4 stars
6/14/01 Daniel Bento A horror movie as no longer horror movies are made 5 stars
3/06/01 Gerardo Lazos The best werewolf movie up-to-date 4 stars
10/26/99 Karahde Khan Highly overrated. But watch it once to see the awesome werewolf transformation effects. 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  13-Mar-1981 (R)
  DVD: 26-Aug-2003

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