97 of 102 people found the following review helpful
on July 3, 2004
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
When "The Howling" appeared in theaters in 1981, it heralded a mini-revival of the werewolf movie that took advantage of advances in special effects; two films followed later that year: "Wolfen" and John Landis's beloved "An American Werewolf in London." Although "The Howling" doesn't quite match the artistry and continual popularity of Landis's film, it nonetheless has aged wonderfully and is still one of the most enjoyable horror films of its decade. It's scary without getting too gory for the average viewer, has superb special effects that don't overwhelm the story, features a fun cast of familiar faces, and has a quirky sense of humor and loads of movie in-jokes for horror movie fans.
MGM first released "The Howling" in a no-frills DVD that let the movie down: no extras, a cheap and scratchy transfer, and a very dull mono soundtrack. Thankfully, they realized the popularity of the film and are now giving us a nice edition with revamped sound (5.1 Surround), a sharp picture, and a big bowl full o' extras.
John Sayles's script (co-written with Terence H. Winkless) unapologetically drops the classic werewolf legend into the modern-day -- in this case, the world of television news and the fad of self-help psychology. News anchor Karen White (Dee Wallace-Stone), while on a special assignment to lure out a serial killer (Robert Picardo from "Star Trek: Voyager") in the city, is attacked by something bestial. On the advice of psychiatrist Dr. Waggner (Patrick Macnee), Karen and her husband (Christopher Stone) head to Waggner's clinical retreat in the woods. However, there's something very disturbing about the other patients in the colony, and those weird wolf howls at night won't stop...
The werewolf transformations supervised by Rob Bottin still have an amazing effect on viewers. Using air bladders, make-up, rubber, and pneumatics, Bottin was able to create a real-time transformation of a human into a nine-foot two-legged wolf. We see limbs snap, snouts grow, claws sprout, the whole deal, and it's damned incredible. (Amazingly, only six months later Rick Baker would do this movie one better with the transformation in "An American Werewolf in London.")
The cast goes a long way to making the film work away from the effects. Dee Wallace provides the serious angle to the film, and is convincingly fragile. The rest of the actors add a wonderful loose humor: Slim Pickens, John Carradine, Belinda Balaski, and director Joe Dante's favorite actor, Dick Miller. The beautiful Elisabeth Brooks steals every scene she's in as a femme fatale who burns with sensuality, mystery, and one weird leather fetishist outfit. Director Joe Dante, who would go on to direct such wacky films as "Gremlins" and "Looney Tunes: Back in Action," puts his nutty sense of humor all over the film and packs it with in-jokes. The names of many of the characters are directors of werewolf movies, werewolf films and cartoons pop up on the televisions, and "wolf" items are scattered all over the place (Wolf Chili, a book by Thomas Wolfe, a reference to Wolfman Jack, a copy of the book "Howl"...and so on).
The extras, most of which are on the flip side of the disc, are excellent. There's a feature-length commentary by Joe Dante, Dee Wallace, Christopher Stone, and Robert Picardo. Dante has plenty to say and is a very lively commentator, and this is a generally enjoyable audio track. "Unleashing the Beast," a fifty-minute documentary (divided into separate parts, but you can play them all together) goes into great depth on the making of the film. It includes new interviews with Joe Dante, producer Mike Finnel, cinematographer John Hora, writer John Sayles, and actors Dee Wallace-Stone, Robert Picardo, Dick Miller, and Belinda Balaski. Conspicuously missing is effects wizard Rob Bottin, but you can see him on "Making a Monster Movie," an eight-minute featurette that was made in 1981. It also contains vintage interviews with Joe Dante and Patrick Macnee. The extras also include two trailers, production photos, and deleted scenes and outtakes (some of which are very funny). But the really major extras for most people will be the new picture quality and the remixed 5.1 sound. If you're a purist, you can still listen to the original mono mix -- it's here too.
"The Howling" makes most early 80s horror films, with brute slashers cutting down dumb teenagers at summer camps and slumber parties, look pretty awful. This is fun, funny, scary, smart -- and the effects will still make your jaw drop or maybe your fangs grow.
51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2000
Format: VHS TapeVerified Purchase
THE HOWLING is a rare original cult-movie, far from the reluctant werewolf pattern. The idea of werewolves instead of a single one hadn't been well developed before, as some legend variations. It has the legendary transformation scene with Rob Bottin's effects, stronger with Pino Donaggio's score (with no CD releasing yet). Rick Baker (Bottin's brother) was consultant and created later the Oscar winner effects of AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, other historical movie.
Both movies are linked. Contemporaries, they represented a new era. There's no point discussing which one's the better. "AWIL" is more modern in a way, having non-sense humor, bloody scenes and unbelievable effects. THE HOWLING, earlier, has a classical movie profile, surprising plot and ending. Its characters were named after classical werewolf and horror movies directors, like George Waggner, Sam Newfield, R. William Neill, Erle Kenton, Lew Landers, Terry Fischer, Charlie Barton, Jerry Warren and Jack Molina. There are lots of ironies, like THE WOLF MAN quotations during the film and after credits, and the wolf cartoon in a tense scene. John Carradine, Roger Corman, John Sayles and Forrest J. Ackerman appear, giving additional charm. It's the first time more complex werewolves characters emerge, like Eddie (Robert Picardo, the scariest werewolf on movie history) and Marsha (Elisabeth Brooks, 1951-1997). Joe Dante made this classic with $1,6 million and used his own garage for the rated movies scene.
Lots of ideas were borrowed later ("the gift" in WOLF). There were sequels non-related to the original, without the "THE" of the title. Most of them have nothing to do with each other. It's depressing to someone expecting a real sequel to watch HOWLING II.
Comparing to THE HOWLING, Brandner's book is different in many aspects, but both are unique. If you liked one, try the other, but don't get anxious finding total equivalence, some points of one aren't in the other and vice-versa.
Unfortunately, the movie had no lucky on TV. Its first release on VHS had a blueish image. Later, a brighter version came, yellowish, but allowing explicit sight of the effects and a better screen fitting. I can't tell which one has the original color or if none of them has. The MGM VHS release (August, 2000), after years of "out of print", is a very good presentation - no cuts, Hi-Fi Stereo. The only possible complaints are a few optical ghosts during the title presentation and a beautiful but not original cover. The light gets closer to the brighter version, with impressive color balancing. But I don't know if it's closer to the original.
Lucky are those who watched it in the theater, with original color and no lateral reductions. We'll have to hope for a DVD version in a letterbox format, with tone color and light fidelity to the cinema's. A special edition, maybe director's, would be wonderful: interviews, soundtrack, theatrical trailler/teasers and more. Otherwise, loyal horror movies enthusiasts are not having what they deserve.
44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
Format: VHS Tape
Karen White (E.T.'s Dee Wallace-Stone) is a TV news reporter who's become the object of serial killer Eddie Quist's psychotic obsession. One night, in a daring attempt to catch the killer on live television, Karen comes face to face with the beast inside him. A rookie cop comes to the rescue, and fills Eddie with lead before Karen can be physically harmed, but she's already the victim of psychological damage. Even the famous Dr. Waggner (Patrick Macnee) can't help Karen remember the face she saw that night, which has been locked away deep in her subconscious. Finally, the concerned doctor suggests that Karen and her husband, Bill, spend some time at his "Colony," a retreat in the California woods for some of his patients who need to "unwind." When the two arrive there, however, they find the place is hardly a relaxing setting. Surrounded by strangers who just keep getting stranger, disturbing howls coming from the woods at night, and a sudden rash of animal mutilations, Karen is not having a restful stay. To make matters worse, the Colony's lovely resident nymphomaniac, Marsha, has designs on Karen's frustrated husband, Bill. Meanwhile, back in the city, Karen's friends and co-workers, Chris and Terry, are doing their best to discover the secrets of Eddie Quist, who they find has mysteriously disappeared from the city morgue. Their search leads them on a path of werewolves and the supernatural, and both will have to come to terms with what they believe if they are going to save their friend from the dangers that surround her before it is too late!
Only a few months before the legendary "An American Werewolf In London" was released, Joe Dante gave us the OTHER best werewolf film ever made, the original "The Howling." Rather than the lone, cursed wolf-man figure, The Howling gives us a very different take on the genre, portraying werewolves as pack creatures much like the real-life animals they take their names from. Everything from alpha leaders, to challengers, to mating, hunting, and socializing is shown from the werewolf's point of view, giving us a much more realistically-based depiction. These tall and very impressive looking werewolves are also able to shape-shift whenever they choose, day or not, making them quite the formidable adversaries. But "The Howling" doesn't disregard the traditional Hollywood legends completely. It still takes silver bullets or fire to kill these werewolves, and their condition is still spread as easily as a single bite. The Howling's effects are fantastic, only outshined by "An American Werewolf In London," released that same year, and just as in that film, the material is handled with great love and respect. It's loaded with humor and cute and funny references to wolf and werewolf pop culture, from cartoons and illustrations, to a can of Wolf brand chili. There's no shortage of gore and horror either though, with some genuine scares for any lone, nighttime viewers. The cast is excellent, studded with camp and horror favorites like Dick Miller, Patrick Macnee, Dee Wallace-Stone, John Carradine, Kevin McCarthy, Christopher Stone, Slim Pickens, Dennis Dugan, and Roger Corman, among others. Elisabeth Brooks is breathtaking as the frighteningly seductive temptress, Marsha. Now, for many, the final scene (or rather, the next to final scene) in which we see a VERY different type of werewolf, tends to "ruin" the scary and impressive style of the rest of the film. Don't let this ruin it for you! According to Dee Wallace in a recent interview at thewerewolfcafe.com, this different look of the final werewolf was done to depict the character in question's unwillingness to submit to the evil transformation. Knowing that makes the whole thing much more acceptable (thanks, Dee)! Overall, "The Howling" adds up to one frighteningly good time that I highly recommend!
6 sequels followed "The Howling," ALL of which have an awful reputation. I recommend checking them out and judging for yourself. They're all very different, and a couple might be rather enjoyable to you, but avoid the no-budget part 7 (New Moon Rising) at all costs.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2005
PLOT: The film opens in California. A recent occurrence of grisly murders has gotten the attention of the police. Famed newscaster Karen White (Dee Wallace Stone) has agreed to assist the police in a sting operation in order to find the killer. The biggest lead they have come up with is a mysterious man named Eddie (Robert Picardo). Following a phone call, Karen agrees to meet Eddie in a film booth at a porno shop. Karen goes (followed by the police.) Karen meets Eddie in the booth and suddenly a scream is heard which sends the police racing into the shop and firing at the booth. Eddie is killed from the bullet wounds instantly. Karen is left in such traumatic shock that she can't remember what she saw. She starts having strange nightmares and is forced to take a break from her anchor job. Karen's reporter friends, Terry Fisher and Chris (Belinda Balaski and Dennis Dugan) find the apartment of Eddie. It is filled with strange objects and realistic but strange drawings of people covered in hair. "The kid had talent," remarks Chris. By looking at the signature on the drawings, they discover that Eddie's last name was Quist. Karen later visits the psychiatrist Dr. George Waggner (Patrick MacNee). He is affiliated with Karen's news station and recommends that Karen go to his clinic in upstate California called "The Colony", in order to relieve some stress. Karen is accompanied by her husband R. William (Bill) Neill (real-life husband Christopher Stone). The other people at the colony are really weird, especially the eccentric yet sexy nymphomaniac Marsha (Elisabeth Brooks). At night, Karen awakes in her cabin to hear strange howling sounds from outside in the wilderness. By the time Bill wakes up, the sound has stopped. Terry and Chris later go to the county morgue to see Eddie's body, in an attempt to get some information for an upcoming TV special they are working on. When the morgue attendant (screen-writer John Sayles) opens the compartment door, he sees that the body is gone. There are also claw marks on the inside of the door. "You don't suppose someone could have stolen him, do you?," asks Chris. The attendant replies, "Well he didn't get up and walk out on his own." Karen is still having her nightmares and she still can't remember what happened in the porno shop. She has trouble fitting in with the people at the colony, but Bill starts to fit in right away and he constantly finds himself drawn towards Marsha. One night, on the way back to the cabin, Bill is suddenly attacked and bitten by some sort of wild animal. Before he can see what it is, it's gone. He is immediately treated by Dr. Waggner for rabies. Not too long after this, Karen realizes that she is in a place where no one is who they seem to be.
COMMENTS: Joe Dante's The Howling is a delightful film and easily one of the Top 5 best werewolf films of all time. It is based on Gary Brandner's1977 novel of the same name. It is not a faithful adaptation however. Dante and the other filmmakers wanted to make an homage for other werewolf films and they used Brandner's novel as the base. Many people have claimed that this is one of the few times when the movie is better than the book. The filmmakers decided to base the werewolves on original legends: they would look like large wolves standing on two legs, they can only be killed by silver or fire, if they aren't killed properly then they will regenerate, and they can change at will and don't have to wait for the full moon. Many of the character names have been changed to the names of directors of werewolf films. Many other references are made, such as Terry and Chris watching the Wolf Man on TV, Bill's reference to radio DJ Wolfman Jack, a photo of a young Lon Chaney Jr. in Dr. Waggner's office, Chris is seen watching a cartoon with the big bad wolf while he has a copy of the book "Howl" on his desk, and the sheriff of the colony is seen eating a can of wolf chili. Rob Bottin's special effects for the transformation scenes are absolutely amazing and he was only 21 at the time. I think it looks better than some of the CGI crap that filmmakers use today. No more cheap lap dissolve tricks from films like "The Wolf Man." Rick Baker served as the special effects consultant on this film and afterwards he did the special effects on "An American Werewolf in London", which won him the very first Oscar for special makeup effects. The Howling franchise introduced us to sexy female werewolves and Elisabeth Brooks as Marsha was a fine example. This movie was also the first to show a "werewolf sex scene". Since this movie was such a big hit, Joe Dante later went on to direct movies such as "Gremlins", "Innerspace", "The `Burbs", and "The Explorers." Dee Wallace Stone went on to play the mother in "E.T." The Howling started a franchise and was followed by 6 inferior sequels: Howling II: Your Sister Is A Werewolf, Howling III: The Marsupials, Howling IV: The Original Nightmare, Howling V: The Rebirth, Howling VI: The Freaks, and Howling VII: New Moon Rising. Some were o.k. (Howling III), some were so bad that they were hysterical (Howling II) and one was so bad that it wasn't even funny (Howling VII). The original Howling is a timeless horror classic. I would recommend this film to anyone. The new special edition DVD is awesome. The picture and sound have been completely remastered and it can be viewed in full screen or the original widescreen theatrical ratio. It also features deleted scenes, outtakes, photo gallery, original theatrical trailers, commentary w/ Joe Dante, Dee Wallace Stone, Christopher Stone, and Robert Picardo, a 1981 documentary entitled "Making A Monster Movie: Inside the Howling", and a brand new documentary entitled "Unleashing the Beast: Making the Howling." Check out my reviews for the Howling II and Howling III DVDs as well.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2007
I love Horror films. When talking about the many sub-genres involved and the low percentage of quality horror films, some films stand out as merely "important" rather than achieve a level of greatness (Last House on the Left, Friday the 13th). The Howling is such a film.
When looking at the great werewolf films out there and considering the times they were released, the original Wolfman stands next to An American Werewolf in London as perhaps the greatest Werewolf films of there respective times. The Howling may very well be a challenge to the latter of these two films as the best of it's time. Both were released in 1981, but the Howling was developed before the Landis project. It doesn't really matter, as I do believe An American Werewolf in London to be better film but the Howling is an important film along with being entertaining. Neil Jordon's In the Company of Wolves came out a few years later and is my personal favorite of any in this sub-genre but all that aside, The Howling is a true horror classic and a werewolf movie fan's treasure. It is a must have of hardcore horror fans because it contains and helped identify the many traits we've seen before and after it.
The Howling starts off in a similar vein to that of the original Dawn of the Dead, putting the idea of a werewolf into the mainstream media (disguised as a serial killer) and it ends on a similar note. This allows us to sort of picture this mythical creature on scale with today's society, or at least that of 1981. It's dated and it's thrown right on TV so we can all feel connected. The film is handled as a kind of film noir at first and slowly brings itself from that and into the werewolf sub-genre in fairly atypical fashion. The acting is really only good by it's main protagonist, whose name escapes me. It also has it's share of character actors who we've enjoyed in these kinds of films before. The Howling isn't afraid to laugh at itself either, which I think is almost a must in horror films...it interesting how almost all other notable werewolf movies (i.e. Dog Soldiers, An American Werewolf in London) also make us laugh. This helped me in some respect to look past a lot of the dated special effects and to laugh at them. The film gets more microcosmic later on and sets itself up for some good scares and some eerie and outstanding howls in the night. Unfortunately, the film ends a bit too quickly, but the Howling remains almost as important as An American Werewolf in London for bringing this great myth back to the forefront of horror films again.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2013
I can always count on Scream Factory to present me with opportunities to revisit the cult classic horror films of the 1980s. "The Howling" gets an upgrade, marking the first time the movie has ever been available on Blu-ray. Many werewolf fans are wondering if the film feels aged in a high-definition format. I'm happy to report It's not without its faults, but holds up quite well.
After news anchor Karen White (Dee Wallace) is attacked by a mysterious stranger (Robert Picardo), she starts having bizarre dreams and night terrors about the incident. Karen's doctor (Patrick Macnee) convinces her that she and husband Bill (Christopher Stone) should go through his treatment at "The Colony." Strange things start to happen as soon as they arrive. Could Karen be cracking up or is there something sinister going on in the secluded resort?
Like most movies from the 1970s and the 1980s, "The Howling" is a slow-burner. This isn't one of those horror films that starts with a bang, keeps a frantic pace, and goes out with a bang. It slowly establishes its plot and characters and gives the audience a little at a time until the climactic and shocking end. Things might move too slowly for today's impatient audience. I even found it tedious at times. The scenes get choppy throughout and it seems like director Joe Dante was rushing things at some points.
Rob Bottin's special effects for "The Howling" are still just as effective today as they were in 1981. The werewolf transformation scenes are unnerving and quite detailed. One transformation takes what seems like three to four minutes. It's all about attention to detail when it comes to Bottin's practical effects and animatronics versus today's obsession with rapid fire CGI scenes of metamorphosis.
"The Howling Collector's Edition" is presented in 1080p high-definition widescreen (1.85:1) with 5.1 surround sound. The picture clarity is wonderful and the audio immerses the viewer in ferocious howls, sound effects, and a quirky musical score. The only problem is that the high-definition transfer exposes the dated animated effects in the movie, such as a couple distant shots of werewolves.
"The Howling" does feature quite a bit of the usual unnecessary nudity found in 1980's horror films. However, this time around director Dante attempts to justify it by analyzing our need to let the beast within out, mostly through sexual and physical acts of violence. The doctor, played by the late Patrick Macnee, convincingly regurgitates a lot of "primal scream" mumbo jumbo throughout the movie.
As usual, Scream Factory packed "The Howling Collector's Edition" full of exciting bonus material. Audio commentary is provided by Director Joe Dante and Actors Dee Wallace, Christopher Stone, and Robert Picardo. It includes the multi-part "Unleashing the Beast: The Making of 'The Howling'" and "Making of a Monster: Inside 'The Howling'" documentaries. We also get a tour of the film's locations thanks to "Horror's Hallowed Grounds." Deleted scenes, outtakes, a photo gallery, and theatrical trailers round out the special features.
Scream Factory proves to be a champion for horror classics once again with "The Howling Collector's Edition." This is one of those essential werewolf films which genre fans have waited to be released on Blu-ray. Although it's a bit slow and takes some time getting started, great special effects and interesting, albeit hokey, social commentary set this apart from the normal monster movie fare.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
(Updated for the Blu-ray edition 7/13)
Deftly combining social satire and horror, Joe Dante's The Howling remains a seminal and important film from the 80's. Unlike Steven Speilberg or Brian DePalma, Dante has managed to maintain his love of the genre and marry it to a modern sensibility. The screenplay by John Sayles captures the character quirks and clever plotting that would later appear in his own work as a writer and director. Sayles essentially junked the source novel keeping the key appeal of writer Gary Brandner's original work--a modern day Werewolf story. Sayles and Dante proceed to satirize the rising self help movement, sensationalism of tabloid television all the while paying homage to the Universal horror films the writer and director grew up watching as kids. Dante and Sayles fill the film with witty references to these old horror films via the names of the characters (almost every major character is named after a horror /werewolf film director) and clips (The Wolf Man and a couple of vintage cartoons and films crop up when you least suspect it) allowing a commentary within the film itself. It's self-reflective filmmaking at its best; it's witty and intelligent without falling into the art film school trap. It's clear that Dante and Sayles have a great love of old films.
Dee Wallace Stone plays Karen White a TV newscaster on to the most sensational story of her career; a serial killer (played by the marvelous Robert Picardo) who uses smiley faces as his trademark and has been terrorizing the city wants to meet with her to give her his side of the story. He feels that there's a special connection between them. He selects a porno shop in the seediest part of town. Whey they meet up face to face, he tells her that he has a special gift for her. He then begins to turn into a Werewolf. Her husband Bill (the late and under appreciated character actor Christopher Stone) is alarmed when the station loses contact with her through the wire they have her wearing. The police and her husband arrive in the nick of time to save her from Eddie the serial killer. Traumatized, Karen takes a sabbatical and, at the recommendation of someone else, visits a colony run by a TV psychologist guru George Waggner (the droll Patrick MacNee). She's blocked much of what happened with Eddie and continues to have emotional problems due to her encounter.Waggner suggests that he join her at the Colony where he works with patients in a group setting. She agrees as long as her husband will come along.
END OF SPOILERS:
Sporting the 2010 transfer (the same as the Studio Canal release from overseas), fans that have been barking at the moon for ages to get "The Howling" on Blu have gotten their wish but it hasn't changed into the big, bad monster that many were hoping for. It's a pity that Shout! Factory couldn't have asked for a new transfer to be done for the film.
"The Howling" looks better than the previous DVD edition however there's evidence of noise reduction being applied unnecessarily with the darkest scenes fairing the worst. There's a lack of depth and detail in many of the night scenes and the skin textures are, at times, scrubbed to a waxy sheen.
Still, for all these drawbacks the film is till a marked improvement over the previous DVD.
The audio sounds marvelous for a vintage film with a nice 5.1 DTS lossless transfer. The remix for this 5.1 presentation is quite good. Audio is clear and there's nice activity in the surround speakers.
The special features have all been ported over from the MGM DVD edition. We get the "Unleashing The Beast" documentary, "Making of A Monster" documentary, outtakes and a photo gallery.
What's new here is "Horror's Hallowed Grounds-A Look At the Film's Locations" which runs under 13 minutes taking us back to the locations hwere the film was shot. We also get a number of interviews including "Howlings Eternal With Steven A. Lane", "Cut to Shreds With Editor Mark Goldblatt" and an Interview with Terence H. Winkless the other screenwriter (John Sayles is the other one)on the film.
While the HD transfer isn't ideal, it is an improvement over the DVD and the additional special features that Shout! included are quite good. Although it would have been nice to see "The Howling" transformed into a bigger and badder monster than the UK version, it looks decent in this edition.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 30, 2013
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
One of Joe Dante's best films has now been released on Blu-ray by scream factory
that is part of shout factory
any fan of the film knows what the plot is and what the film is about
which is Werewolves, Joe Dante's 2nd film i think and it's made with so much rawness it's old school film making
cause of it's realism which i prefer compared to today's way which is mainly CGI film making
and cheasy acting in my opinion
CGI (Computer generated images), basically some scenes that require monster special effects
that get done with CGI which to me is cheating and looks fake compared to old fashioned special effects
but that debate can go on forever, everyone has opinions.
so this review is about the new scream factory release and how it's different from the old MGM DVD release
this new Collectors edition by scream factory as it all
all the special features/extras from the original MGM DVD release has been brought over to this
new collectors edition blu-ray, even the Unleashing the beast making of Doco has been brought over
so all the interviews are from 2002-2003 MGM DVD release
the Deleted scenes, outtakes have been brought over
and the Audio commentary by Joe Dante and actors have been brought over aswell from the 2003 release
except for 3 brand new interviews done in the past 12months
interview with Exect producer Steven Lane who talks about his involvement in THE HOWLING
and also talks about the sequels actually, he was exect producer for all 4 sequels i think
which is very interesting interview goes for 15mins
interview with Mark Goldblatt who was the Editor on the Howling
and an interview with one of the writers of the film, the screenplay had 2 writers
the new Blu-ray transfer is excellent picture and audio quality 10/10
any blu-ray release that comes out these days is widescreen so of course it's widescreen
better than the MGM release from 2003
As i said all the special features from the 2003 MGM release
has been carried over to this scream factory collectors edition
plus you get 3 brand new interviews added
so i think scrap the old MGM release and get this new scream factory blu-ray
definitely time to upgrade for sure definitely worth the money
5 stars i gave this new blu-ray version of THE HOWLING
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Of all the werewolf movies out there, this has to be the best ever!
The plot is intricate and complicated. The acting is well done. Suprise appearance by John Carridine is nice!
The subtle horror that grows and grows throughout is shown through Dee Wallace. When she finally witnesses a transformation in a doctors office the roller coaster starts downhill.
Very atmospheric and still very effective, this is a true jump out of your seat thriller, and a classic at that.
No humorous spots like 'american werewolf in london'. This one slowly grabs you and pulls you forward.
Must see! again and again.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2013
Werewolves taken seriously and fantastically ! I can still watch and enjoy this movie alongside new releases--and not because it's so bad it's good, but because it's just plain good! This is the second best werewolf movie ever made--behind An American Werewolf in London (also 1981). FOR THE SUPERFANS: There are a lot of major familiar faces in this movie. The director also took every possible chance to throw wolf cartoons, movies and books in the background, werewolf movie directors' names for characters, etc. throughout. This could make for a great horror geek drinking game!
After a stalker (Robert Picardo; Legend, Munchies, 976-Evil) attacks newscaster Karen (Dee Wallace; E.T., Cujo, Critters, Hansel and Gretel), she is a wreck--she can't work, she can't sleep. As a form of rest-and-relaxation therapy, Dr. Wagner (Patrick Macnee; Bloodsuckers, Waxwork, Waxwork 2) prescribes some time at 'the colony.' So she and her boyfriend Bill (Christopher Stone; Cujo) venture to this hospitable, beachside, group-therapy retreat run by Dr. Wagner.
The locals are a mixture of odd, inbred, occult and hillbilly--but generally friendly. Colony locals Marsha (Elisabeth Brooks) and Erle (John Carradine) serve as harbingers that something strange is going on...you see, they're all werewolves!
Annnnnd, that's the plot.
Meanwhile, Karen's colleague Terry (Belinda Balaski; The Food of the Gods, Piranha, Gremlins) is investigating werewolves with her boyfriend. Why? Because Karen's stalker had weird werewolf drawings--including a werewolfed-up Karen--all over his apartment. Evidently, he was a werewolf! Under the guidance of used bookstore owner Dick Miller (Piranha, Gremlins), they watch old movies, read up on lycanthropy. Then Terry joins Karen and Bill at the colony while Terry's boyfriend rounds up some silver bullets.
Yeah. This makes sense. I often seek sage advice from used bookstore owners in small towns. Especially when dealing with all things supernatural. Totally normal.
The build-up is long and slow, but things get moving when Bill is attacked by a werewolf during a display of non-CGI, creature costume effects that today's standards find laughable. Suddenly Bill, a vegetarian, is eating meat and loving it and succumbing to the sexual draw of "the beast within." Keeping in step with sex and the beast, the first transformation scene is mid-coitus. On camera we see incisors elongate, but otherwise the camera looks away, then returns to a yet hairier, now contact-lensed Bill. The effects turn to crude "wide angle" silhouette animation. It's awful in terms of effects quality, but in its 80s horror-ness, it is not without some charm. Further indicative of budgetary and technological limitations, we largely see only the head or only the claw or arm of a werewolf during attack scenes earlier in the movie. Again, though, with an 80s horror appeal to it.
However, breaking away from typical 80s limitations, we do eventually see many good shots of "whole" werewolves. I must say, for 1981 (or even today!!!), it looks really impressive and rather cool even next to more recent releases using CGI (Underworld Awakening) or costume/make-up (Cursed). It's more lean, tall, shaggy and rough looking; more sinister and monstrous than simply a man-wolf hybrid. This really may be the scariest looking werewolf ever. They did a damn good job!!!
The gore is not abundant in the first hour, but several scenes delivers some cool, gross, slimy effects after the hour mark. I should also add that, like what more we see of the creatures later in the movie, we likewise will see more provocative transformations with pulsating skin and elongating jaws. We see a long transformation that the director really wanted us to enjoy, much as in The Company of Wolves (1984) or An American Werewolf in London (1981). They're fun celebrations of slimy latex prostheses.
Director Joe Dante (Piranha, Gremlins) took a new approach to the werewolf movie and it worked. Dante gives us werewolves that regenerate at a "realistic" speed with their classic vulnerability to silver, but unlike most movies of the time, he presented werewolves as a subspecies living in a group, like a wolf pack. Other approaches up to that time were limited to single, cursed individuals depicting werewolves. These depictions were very Jekyll and Hyde, with the afflicted individual having no control or recollection of the actions of the wolf. In The Howling, lycanthropy is still a transmittable affliction, but it alters the psychology of the afflicted rather than adding an altogether new and mutually exclusive personality.
The ending is cool--and even gets farcically ripped in Howling 3: The Marsupials. Make sure you see this classic. Even effects whores will be happy with the gore, transformations and make-up work which stand the test of time.