The Howling (1981)


After a TV news anchorwoman helps to trap a serial killer she retires to a new age colony to recuperate, only to find that it is being stalked by werewolves.

This film was released at around the same time as An American Werewolf In London and both were lauded over for their ground-breaking special effects, but this is definitely a case of the passage of time separating the wheat from the chaff. American Werewolf’s effects may have been the headline grabbers but the wit and intelligence of the script and likeable, characterful performances have made it stand the test of time admirably. Unfortunately The Howling has fared a lot worse. I’ve never rated Joe Dante as a director and his clod-hopping approach is as evident as ever, filling the screen with dry ice and clumsy dream montages, all lit like a Spinal Tap concert. The constant visual references to wolves in pop culture are scattershot and witless, the clip of The Wolfman in particular served only to make me wish I was watching that film instead. He was also so proud of the effects that the camera lingers on them making the transformation scenes last an age, which serves only to highlight how poor they look by today’s standards.

Add bad soap opera level performances from a cast of has-beens and never-weres and the whole thing is really best forgotten.



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