REVIEW: The Howling (1981)


The Howling: B

Other than An American Werewolf in London, this is probably the best werewolf movie.

The film moves very slowly but the payoff is so worth it. This woman Karen is stalked by a psycho killer named Eddie. The cops use her as bait to catch the guy but the experience is so traumatic, Karen develops amnesia. The scene is pretty fucked up; the cops stick Karen in a porn theater where some rape/snuff is playing. She has to watch it while Eddie creeps up on her and fondles her a little bit. Then he gets capped.

Her shrink sends her to a little retreat called The Colony out in the cuts. Bad news: everyone there is a werewolf (one motherfucker is REALLY obvious; he looks like fucking Sabretooth from X-men). They all have this feral “Lost Boys” kind of vibe.

A half dozen strange occurrences and some explicit werewolf action lets the audience realize what’s up as soon as Karen gets to The Colony. Karen just don’t get it, though. She sniffs around for answers and not a lot happens. There is all sorts of implied shapeshifting and distant/mysterious howling. Her BF is bitten and becomes a werewolf who has werewolf sex with another werewolf.

Finally, in the last few minutes of the movie, the Colony folk reveal themselves in what are some of the most impressive werewolf transformation scenes I have ever seen. The effects are on par with (maybe even better) than Carpenter’s The Thing. You have to sit through about and hour of 80’s perms, mustaches, and backwards-ass reasoning, with very minimal action/effects, but the werewolves are so fucking dope. No CGI garbage like most other werewolf movies. We’re talking real snotty/furry make-up and all sorts of crunching, stretching prosthetic limbs and snouts. One of the werewolves is that asshole Eddie from the rape theater, but he catches a silver bullet shortly after his terrifying transformation.

Karen escapes and just when you think the film is over, there is one last shapeshifting scene. It’s Karen! Fucking idiot tries to shapeshift on live prime-time news so she can warn the world about werewolves. Someone caps her with a silver bullet and various viewers believe they have just witnessed an elaborate showcase of television special effects.

This film has spawned my sequels which all deteriorate into shittiness with each new release. One sequel has a “werewolf vs. vampire” theme. Another features a werewolf on roller-skates. See the first Howling and I promise you won’t regret it.

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