The Howling - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Howling Reviews

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Super Reviewer
October 2, 2014
In tandem with 'An American Werewolf in London', the transformation sequence in 'The Howling' is not quite as painstakingly excruciating and terrifying but it's within the proximity of impressive special effects from Rob Bottin. The chest inflates, the snout protrudes and the skin effervesces with hair. However, the end result is a shaggy muskrat that is more mangy and unkempt than goosebump-inducing. Such is the case for most of 'The Howling', a kitschy, obnoxiously winking B-picture that attempts to spoof self-help gurus but the satire is hokily ill-advised with this dross. A female werewolf in the newsroom squelches tensile-wire tension because the prosthetic is insufferably adorable and sublethal. Likewise the reaction shots from the viewing publics (a nuzzling couple, a Spanish cashier, etc.) are ridiculously tongue-in-cheek and plagiarized directly from a Zucker Bros. farce. Also I apologize for my lack of sophistication but I've never been an acolyte of Harryhausen stop-motion animation and a few frames of baying wolves is truly atrocious.
Super Reviewer
½ March 6, 2011
Aside from An American Werewolf in London, The Howling is one of the best werewolf films ever. Joe Dante crafts a solid werewolf film with great acting, terrifying moments and good acting. The film does have room for improvement, but overall, The Howling is a solidly crafted film. After a near fatal encounter with a mass murderer, reporter Karen White is sent to a rehab facility to recuperate from her ordeal. However she soon realizes that things are strange and aren't what they seem. The film is brilliantly directed by Joe Dante who previously helmed Piranha and went on to direct other classics such as Gremlins and The Burbs. The film feature a terrific cast of actors, Slim Pickens is of course, one of the most noteworthy names of the cast and he delivers something totally different from his previous work. The film features awesome special effects by Rob Bottin who would later create the astounding effects in John Carpenter's The Thing. The Howling is a terrific piece of horror cinema that is most definitely a classic. The film has a terrific plot and great scares to keep the most diehard Horror fans pleased. Joe Dante is a very underrated director, and all of his films have something to love about them. The Howling is tense, horrifying and totally strange the way a horror film should be. I once saw a review by Roger Ebert stating that this was a film that shows a women being the victim, he threw this film in the same basket as I Spit on Your Grave and other slasher films of the early 80's. Ebert seemed to forget that THIS is a WEREWOLF film not a slasher film. Man, I hate that critic. Anyhow this brings me to a point. The Howling is not a film that shows the woman being the victim, sure the main character recovers from an ordeal where she almost gets killed by the hands of a serial killer, but in no way is this glorifying it. That plot device sets the tone to the story, and The Howling should not be dismissed as trash. The film is a good old fashioned Werewolf film that scary, thrilling and exciting. A well written and executed horror film. Also it shows that Roger Ebert doesn't know shit about what he's talking about.
Super Reviewer
September 18, 2011
Karen: A secret society exists, and is living among all of us. They are neither people nor animals, but something in-between.

"Imagine your worst fear a reality"

The Howling is a decent werewolf film. It doesn't match some of the best of the genre, but it also exceeds the great majority. Joe Dante always brings a lot of fun to his movies and The Howling is no different. The movie is fun in sections, but throughout I'd call it only mildly engaging. The whole colony setup was really obvious, so it was all very predictable.

I liked the movie for the most part and will say that it is a worthwhile watch. There are a few scenes in the movie that are really well done including a really cool ending that I loved. The rest of the movie is just good enough to get you through to the great scenes. The cast isn't great, but it isn't bad. The performances are admirable without being all that good.

Basically The Howling ends up being a movie that I'm in between on. It's good enough for a recommendation, but not good enough to say you need to watch it. If you're a fan of the genre, definitely watch it because it is good enough for at least one viewing. Just don't expect a movie that exceeds An American Werewolf in London.
Super Reviewer
September 24, 2010
My favourite modern werewolf film, I loved it! The story is suspenseful and mysterious, and the special effects are really good. If you like werewolf movies, I highly recommend it.
Super Reviewer
½ December 6, 2010
This was kinda boring. I did like the classic werewolves and the ending and not just because it was the end of the movie.
Super Reviewer
November 18, 2009
It's ridiculously 80s, but that's one of the best elements. It has a lot to do with pop culture dealing with urban legends, which was pretty original. I loved the glossy look of the movie and the effects (just bizarre). You gotta love Dee Wallace and the crazy bunch of werewolves terrorizing her. While it's a little outdated, it's still a fun movie.
Super Reviewer
March 29, 2007
A TV news anchorwoman helps to trap a serial killer and retires to a new age colony to recuperate, only to find it is stalked by werewolves. This film came out at around the same time as An American Werewolf In London, and both were lauded over for their ground breaking SFX, but this is definitely a case of the passage of time separating the wheat from the chaff. American Werewolf's FX may have been the headline grabbers, but the wit and intelligence of the script and likable, characterful performances have made it stand the test of time admirably. Unfortunately, The Howling has fared a lot worse. I've never rated Dante as a director, and his clod-hopping approach is as evident here as ever, filling the screen with dry ice and clumsy dream montages, 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 instead. And he was obviously so proud of the effects that the camera lingers on them making the transformation scenes last an age, which serves only to make you see how rubbish 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.
Super Reviewer
½ January 7, 2009
Great special effects that were state of the art for 1980. *Dee Wallace as a werewolf looks like a Pomeranian on steroids.
Super Reviewer
December 4, 2008
After a traumatizing encounter with what she believes to be a serial killer in a peep-show booth, a female investigative reporter goes to a strange resort to recuperate, where things get even worse. Suspenseful horror movie with an atmosphere of oddly erotic evil and transformation scenes that still stand up today.
Super Reviewer
½ July 2, 2007
One of the better werewolf films in the series with some jumpy scenes.
Super Reviewer
½ June 30, 2008
A good humoured fairly tongue in cheek werewolf movie. Similar in tone to many of Dante's other projects such as Gremlins and Small Soldiers. The story is nicely paced and has a few surprises in store. The effects are simply amazing, still holding up today and being very effective. Gruesome and painful like a transformation should be. Dee Wallace is fairly good as the lead, though why she stands still looking only moderately shocked during the main transformation is anyones guess. The rest of the cast are also very well suited to their roles and just about avoid cliches. Can't wait to see the others in the series.
Super Reviewer
½ February 16, 2007
A good 80's werewolf movie that is high on blood. It's pretty good but not really the best writing in the world.
Super Reviewer
July 10, 2007
I liked the urban setting at the beginning, but this movie soon departed to a wilderness setting where a community of werewolves lived in harmony.

That's what the Howling movie series is about; werewolves trying to exist in the real world without persecution.

It's all cool, but not too scary. There was the scene where the bad werewolf threatens Dee Wallace-Stone in the cabin. People rave about the effects, but the facial transformations looked all air-inflated. The werewolf sex scenes were wild! The ending was very unexpected and tragic.
Super Reviewer
June 20, 2007
I didn't like horror films until this one. Totally changed my film viewing habits. The transformation scenes made me want to become a makeup artist. I saw it again recently, and it's not as spectacular as I remember, and even hokey at times. But it still holds a fond place in my memory.
Super Reviewer
½ June 5, 2007
I'm not usually a fan of most werewolf movies, but this one is both subtle and lurid at different times, which I find engaging - though the effects are often clumsy compared to today's quality of prosthetics etc (the hand metamorphosis and Eddie's acid burn face were still pretty cool even so). I also found the serial killer/media slant on the story rather enjoyable. I think the film might improve with repeated viewings, as I saw this before (but didn't remember until halfway through) and enjoyed it, but not as much as I did this second viewing.
Suneel J.
Super Reviewer
November 22, 2011
A faulty addition to the werewolf genre, despite its own unique storyline. The transformation scenes are top notch and add a sense of realism with the makeup. The plot twist is very predictable and much of the acting is below average, if not bad. There are few scenes that are legitimately scary, but they are a breath of fresh air due to the slow start. A poor film that had plenty of potential to be classic, but fails in so many ways.
Super Reviewer
½ July 28, 2010
Jon Dante is an unfairly underrated horror director, and while 'The Howling' is no where near as good as 'An American Werewolf in London' (which was also released in 1981), Dante manages to make the final half hour so suspensful and scary that it pretty much makes up for the narrative shortcomings of the rest of the film.
Super Reviewer
January 11, 2009
What a waste of my life. I do not understand why this is herald as one of the best werewolves movies, it really was a terrible story. It wasn't scary and I didn't care about any of the characters.
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