“It's real!” - The Howling Review
PLOT - After a bizarre and near fatal encounter with a serial killer, a newswoman is sent to a rehabilitation center whose inhabitants may not be what they seem.
LOW DOWN – I don't exactly remember when I first saw The Howling but I'm sure it was my mother who introduced me to this total insane and very underrated werewolf classic. Many have said that this is the Se7en of werewolf films, and I honestly couldn't agree more. The surreal visuals, the girtty unsettling setting, and the mind blowing ending that leaves you completely speechless. Director Joe Dante brought us a very interesting and fresh look to a classic tale of a creature that was starting to get some new life breathed into it with the new decade. Sadly The Howling is often overlooked because another very famous werewolf film was released that same year, a movie with special effects and won itself a very well deserved Oscar. This movie is of course An American Werewolf In London.
This is a movie that I would honestly say goes down in my top ten list of all time favorite horror movies. I'm a huge fan of Dante's style of colors, face paced editing, and over the top dramatic score. This is a movie that very much feels like a weird nightmare that you're viewing. One that becomes a complete roller coaster of a thrill ride. Joe Dante previously established himself as a great filmmaker with Piranha which took elements that worked so well in Jaws, and made it into a fun B movie with plenty of tounge in cheek moments, suspense, and gore. Shortly before going onto bigger and better things like my personal favorite Gremlins, Joe decided to take his love of old school horror and a cutting edge bulging new take with practical effects and shape it into The Howling we all know and love.
With plenty of nods to classic werewolf films and characters, this movie feels and looks like it should belong among some of the most famous and favorite creature and monster movies ever made. (Which in my eyes it should.)
My first love of this movie has to be Dante's direction. The cinematography is simply stunning. It feels like a classic horror movie that's mixed with an eye popping comic book. Living, breathing, and in your face. I loved the fact the ever so lovely Dee Wallace Stone got her chance to truly shine in this movie. This is a story that seems so simple it puzzles me it took until 1981 to be made. I loved the switching of settings to the small rehab clinic out in the middle of no where. The shots of the beach and the bay were beautiful and made you feel isolated. I love the idea of how everything isn't what it seems. That these very overly friendly people all seem...a bit “off”. The suspense slowly builds, we get some crazy and odd characters, great over the top music, very weird werewolf sex (yep...I said it.) a brutal chase scene, some very awesome practical bladder effects, and finally leading up to the showdown that leaves you breathless. I love the big reveal at the rehab at the end in the barn and I simply love the line “"We can fit in," you said. "We can live with them."
And of course the very ending which in my eyes is one of the oddest yet most awesome endings of all time. Yeah sure there have been plenty of puppy jokes, but I think the effects were great, and loved the whole credits over the burger cooking. One thing that always bothers me is when the camera shows the burger cooking, when it;'s flipped...it leaves half the meat on the grill. Gross...
Besides that a great scary movie with mind blowing effects for the time, great actors, a beautiful score and location, and an even better ending. Sadly not much can we said about the sequels. I hate to admit I own a few of them sadly. I really think they screwed the pooch with that series. I mean the first one was simply awesome...why throw it all away? I'm sure in he future I'll be reviewing such titles as part 3, and either part 5 or 6 The Freaks. Besides that I couldn't help but laugh when I heard that Christopher Lee apologized to Joe Dante on the set of Gremlins 2 for starring in The Howling II Your Sister Is A Werewolf.