Joe Dante's The Howling
is hands down the best werewolf film of all time. It combines the clever directing techniques of Joe Dante (Gremlins
, The Burbs
), the amazing adaption of Gary Brandner's original novel "The Howling"
and an array of talented actors to make one of the most notoriously feared werewolf films of all time!
We follow Karen White, a TV newscaster who has convinced a ruthless, and elusive, serial killer that she wants to meet him to get to know him. The police wire her with a microphone and monitor her while she is instructed, by the killer, to meet him in a hole-in-the-wall porn shop where there's special booths for men to watch porn and spank their willies. Upon arriving at the shop, the connection to the police is lost and she finds herself on her own. She enters the instructed booth and is forced to watch videos of rape and torture while the serial killer speaks to her from behind. He claims he wants to share something with her and instructs her to turn around and look at him. When she does, she sees a shape of a man that seems to be morphing into something hairy and hideous. When she screams, the police come dashing into the booth where they shoot, and kill, the creature. Or did they?
After this near-fatal experience, Karen's doctor recommends she take some time off and travel to a secluded retreat called "The Colony." A place where people go after extremely traumatizing events in their lives. After agreeing to a stay at the retreat, she and her husband, Bill, prepare for the adventure ahead.
Everything seems relaxing and normal, at first, until the couple starts to hear strange howling outside their cabin and Karen begins having violent hallucinations. Things progressively get more bizarre and more concerning as the days pass until they realize they are getting far more than they bargained for. Far more than they could've ever imagined.
First and foremost we need to talk about the special effects. A massive crew of 28 people were hired just
for the special effects and makeup departments! That's an amazing number for a werewolf themed movie filmed on a budget of only $1,000,000. These people combined their talents to create effects that will make you say, "How the holy-hell did they pull that off?" The most notable achievements by this group is, not surprisingly, the human-to-werewolf morphing scenes. There are multiple occurrences through the film where a morphing process is taking place but there are two that are most impressive.
The werewolf love making scene with Christopher Stone and Elisabeth Brooks. Why do I find this scene strangely erotic? Yes, there is a sequence (before the morphing begins) of Elisabeth Brooks showing off her amazing body but I think it's more because it feels primal. Primal to the point of being the stereotypical caveman style of mating which involved finding a mate, fucking and moving on. Yep, almost sounds like most of the people you see at the bars but this has a more "animal" feel to it. Then again, they are werewolfs.
The morphing of Eddie Quist. (Not the half-ass morphing at the beginning, the morphing during the confrontation with Terry Fisher) This might very well be the most famous werewolf scene of all time. Well, perhaps not, but it's by far the best in my book. There are so many stages of the human-to-werewolf transformation that you are hopelessly glued to the screen. Even if you're not frightened, which you probably should be, the mind-boggling stages of the change are awe inspiring. This scene is so impressive I've made it into a video clip which you can view here
The acting is fantastic. Especially the performances by Dee Wallace and Christopher Stone. Dee Wallace has always been one of my favorite actresses. You might remember her from such films as The Hills Have Eyes, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Cujo, Critters
and Rob Zombie's Halloween
. Any woman with a resume containing that many classic horror/sci-fi films is 100% badass in my opinion. Christopher Stone also impressed me with his portrayal of Karen White's husband, Bill. He brought a sense of spousal loyalty and faithfulness in the early stages of the film which evened out the complete moral chaos. That is, until he became and werewolf-humping K-9. Good work Christopher.
If you're a serious horror fan and have not seen The Howling
, I demand you jump into the Amazon link above and purchase yourself a copy. You can't declare yourself a master of horror film knowledge if The Howling
is not in your collection. You really can't. After your DVD arrives, invite your buddies over for beer, blood, and werewolf tits. The Howling
does not disappoint!