Director: Joe Dante
Starring: Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, Dennis Dugan, Christopher Stone, Belinda Balaski
Imagine your worst fear a reality
Karen White is a tough and TV reporter that is currently putting her life on the line when she agrees to meet the famous serial killer Eddie “The Mangler” Quist while wearing a wire so that the cops can keep track of her and arrest the murderer. The wire is faulty and when she first meet him in a private room in a sleazy adult store, while a rape/snuff film is being shown, she comes very close to being killed but is saved by cops right before Eddie is able to finish her off.
Traumatized after this terrible experience, Karen finds herself unable to work and after being consulted by her therapist Dr. Wagner they both decide that the best thing for her is to take some time off together with her husband on a therapeutic retreat. The retreat is filled with strange and eccentric characters and Karen keeps hearing howlings at nighttime. While Karen is away on the retreat, two of her colleagues are still working on The Mangler case and finds out that there are links between him and the same retreat that Karen is currently at and they must now hurry to warn her before something terrible happens to her.
First, who would have thought that Joe Dante would be able to pull off such sleazyness as he did with the opening scene here! Why haven’t you done more of this Dante!?! The opening scene here is so great and sets the movie off to an awesome start. Dante does loose things up a little and sparkles some humour, although more mean-spirited than his usual, into the movie. He does make it turn into nearly a tribute to previous werewolves movies after a while, which makes it fun, but also takes away the possible tension from it. Dante and his team do create a good atmosphere throughout the movie and they show that they are filled with talent.
Another one with talent is of course scream queen Dee Wallace (E.T., Cujo) as Karen White. Wallace is a skillful actress who seems to always deliver a first-class performance, and this is no exception. She is also in good company here since The Howling is filled with good actors such as Patrick Macnee (This is Spinal Tap, Waxwork), her off-screen husband at the time Christopher Stone (Cujo, The Junkman) and John Carradine (The Boogeyman, Evil Spawn).
The effects done by Rob Bottin are great and while they might not be as groundbreaking as his work in An American Werewolf in London, it’s still above what you would expect at that time. The music also suits the film perfectly and Pino Donaggio (Don’t Look Now, Carrie) who did the score deserves a lot of praise for it. The story is based on a book by Gary Brandner.
The Howling is a great werewolf movie that spawned a bunch of crappy sequels. I think it might just be one of the all-time best werewolves movies made, at least top three material. It’s great and I can recommend it to anyone who enjoys those big furry monsters.