The Howling (1980), starring Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, Elisabeth Brooks, John Carradine, Robert Picardo
The Howling – A shaken TV newswoman finds a doctor’s retreat crawling with werewolves. Directed by Joe Dante.
Review of The Howling
The Howling is a lower-budget 1980’s werewolf film. That, by itself, isn’t bad. After all, Casablanca was a B-movie. The setting is scary, the acting is good. At first, the audience is wondering if the TV newswoman Karen White (Dee Wallace) is just imagining the goings-on at the doctor’s retreat.
Some of The Howling is quite bound to the 1980’s. Patrick Macnee, plays his part as “mod” psychiatrist very subtly until the very end, as the doctor running the retreat. The doctor encourages married patients to “experiment” with other sexual partners. Including Karen’s husband. Some of The Howling is quite graphic, with nudity and gore violence.
The Howling is enjoyable – but be forewarned that it’s R-rated for a reason. It should also be mentioned that it spawned a sequel, The Howling II — which is good only to mock while watching.
Editorial review of The Howling courtesy of Amazon.com
A graduate of Roger Corman’s school of low-budget ingenuity, Joe Dante gained enough momentum with 1978’s Piranha to rise to the challenge of The Howling, and he brought along Piranha screenwriter John Sayles to cowrite this instant werewolf classic. Makeup wizard Rob Bottin was recruited to create what was then the wildest onscreen transformation ever seen. With Gary Brandner’s novel The Howling as a starting point, Sayles and Dante conceived a werewolf colony on the California coast, posing as a self-help haven led by a seemingly benevolent doctor (Patrick Macnee), and populated by a variety of “patients,” from sexy, leather-clad sirens (among them Elisabeth Brooks) to an old coot (John Carradine) who’s quite literally long in the tooth. When a TV reporter (Dee Wallace) arrives at the colony to recover from a recent trauma, the resident lycanthropes prepare for a howlin’ good time.
Dante handles it all with equal measures of humor, sex, gore, and horror, pulling out all the stops when the ravenous Eddie (Dante favorite Robert Picardo, later known as the Doctor on Star Trek: Voyager) transforms into a towering, bloodthirsty werewolf. (Bottin’s mentor Rick Baker would soon raise the makeup ante with An American Werewolf in London.) As usual, in-jokes abound, from characters named after werewolf-movie directors, amusing cameos (Corman, Sayles, Forrest J. Ackerman), and hammy inserts of wolfish cartoons and Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl.” It’s best appreciated now as a quintessential example of early-’80s horror, with low-budget limitations evident throughout, but The Howling remains a giddy genre milestone. –Jeff Shannon