Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
Ah… 'The Howling'.  I saw this movie the weekend it came out in 1981, far too young to get into an R-rated movie on my own, but my older brother always had a lower case G's back.   Oh the movies I got to see because my brother wanted to see them and my mom forced him to take me along.  As a twelve year old, after seeing 'The Howling', I was pretty convinced it was the best movie ever made, which was saying something since it was snatching the throne from 'Empire' which I saw the year before, but it too would soon to be dethroned by 'The Thing' which I saw the following year.  Thirty years later… now all mature and stuff… clearly 'The Howling' is not the film 'The Empire Strikes Back' was.  Not even close, and we all know that.   It's not even really close to 'The Thing', BUT… if you were to ask me what the best werewolf movie EVER made was, even today, it's still 'The Howling'.  Sorry 'Teen Wolf II'.

Dee Wallace is hard working TV anchorwoman Karen White, and Karen will do whatever is necessary to get the story.  I can't see Diane Sawyer going down to porno row to meet with a brutal serial killer with minimal police protection, but that's just what Karen is doing on this particular night.  Sure enough, the police lose Karen, she goes down to porno row to meet this cat Eddie Quist, as played by the universally awesome Robert Picardo, and Eddie has something to show Karen.  Did Karen see what Eddie had to show her?  We don't know because the fuzz finally tracked Karen down and put a series of slugs in Eddie.  Eddie is dead.  So to speak.  More or less.  Not really.

Now Karen has to report on this occurrence, but Karen is a total psychological mess.  Fortunately, kindly doctor George Waggner (Patrick MacNee) who is often on Karen's show prattling on about The Beast Within and other nonsense, sponsors a retreat that will
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help Karen cope with the emotional trauma that she has just experienced.  So Karen and her husband Bill (the late Christopher Stone) haul off to the campsite for some fun, sun, barbeque and weirdness. 

Seriously, you only had to be at the camp for six minutes to realize that this isn't the place for any reasonably sane person just by looking at the freaks that inhabit this place, but Karen and Bill are in for the long haul.  Of course of all the weirdoes in this joint, there's none more strange than the super weird and crazy hot Miss Marsha (the late Elisabeth Brooks) whose elevator looks to stop just a few floors short of the top, but she does have other things she brings to the table, these things not being lost on Karen's husband Bill.  Now, we should point out that Karen's massive trauma has put her cookie on lock, and while don't support what Bill might do with the freaky Marsha, we do kind of understand.  Plus Bill was attacked by a wild beast soon after they arrived which very well could've been a werewolf.  But they don't exist, now do they?

Back home, Karen's producer Chris (Dennis Dugan) and his girl Terry (Belinda Balaski) are doing some research on this Eddie character and they find out some stuff that is a little unsettling, but that can wait because they did promise to drive up to Camp Freaky and help Karen, who is steadily freaking out at this place and the weirdness of it all.  Terry is coming down to die first… I mean to help out first.  Common sense would dictate that Karen should just leave, but this is a horror movie.

Turns out werewolves are totally real.  Just ask Terry.  And Karen is in a heap of trouble, and her studly husband will be of very little assistance in helping her out of this trouble.  Fortunately, Chris is on his way down, and he has silver bullets and he's about to put some werewolves to sleep… but the truth needs to be told…

Now, it is possible after viewing 'The Howling' again, and I'm not sure when the last time I saw it was but it has been a while, but it is possible that maybe… possibly… it's just a little overrated.  Just a little.  For instance we love Dee Wallace, always have.  I mean she's E.T.'s mom for goodness sakes, and we just saw her the other day in The Asylum version of 'Hansel and Gretel' in which she stole the show, but E.T's mom and her shrinking violet style of acting back then might not have been the best choice for this role, as opposed to Ms. Wallace in 'Cujo' in which she was pitch perfect.  Also, the first half of director Joe Dante's movie is a little on the slow side.  I'm sure we were developing character and creating atmosphere during all of this slowness, but it is slowness nonetheless.   Of course the coolest thing about this movie at the time is probably the legendary Rob Bottin's werewolf transformation effects, and they are awesome.  But considering it took Eddie Quist a virtual eternity to turn into a werewolf, maybe then was the moment for somebody to run, or do something as opposed to just stand there and be in awe of some dude turning into a monster whose only purpose is to eat your ass.

That being said, 'The Howling' is still the best werewolf movie I've ever seen.  That slowness did setup the atmosphere and character because the last half hour is about as good as cinema gets.  The gore effects were second to none at the time, and quite honestly still hold up well today, and it brought back glorious memories of me bragging to my friends in middle school that I saw this movie, and saw the titties that came along with it, because I had a supremely irresponsible older brother.  Our only regret is that Dennis Duggan did not become a bigger star, then this would've kept him out of the director's chair and possibly kept Adam Sandler's 'Jack and Jill' from being made.

Maybe not quite as good as I remember, but still the best.  That is 'The Howling'.  Now off to see a movie I've never seen, considered one of the worst Werewolves movies ever made… 'The Howling II', which seriously can't be too much worse than one of the worst werewolf movies I've personally seen, the recently released 'The Howling: Reborn'…. No way.
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