The Howling Reviews

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½ April 10, 2015
Nice creepy feel to this movie.....a little too Hollywood but still a good monster story.
November 26, 2013
Being a well-received horror film by Joe Dante, The Howling sounded like a good old fashioned 80's horror piece.

It is clear that The Howling is done on a very low budget. Although it is a Werewolf-themed horror movie, it keeps the horror limited mostly to the implications until about halfway through the movie where is picks up a visual flare and progresses from there. In this manner it is familiar to Joe Dante's previous film, Piranha. The difference however is that Piranha was more about exploitation and how many deaths it could achieve while The Howling is a bit more creative in terms of story, characters and its general horror themes.
There Werewolf themes are implied for most of the film and the characters don't actually transform into them until about 47 minutes into the movie which constitutes more than half of the film. Up until then there is not that much horror, just some kind of surreal drama. After that, the atmosphere remains constant. The great thing about The Howling is that it benefits from having Joe Dante as director. As Joe Dante proved on Piranha, he knows how to keep atmosphere in a horror film effective. It's done by maintaining the atmosphere consistently once it begins and never letting it drop, and that is exactly what he does to the film. When the werewolves come into The Howling, they are there to stay and so is the tense mood and creepy thrills of the film. The second half of the film really makes The Howling a good film and renders it memorable viewing. The rest of the film is just a bit of waiting around, but the second half of The Howling truly maintains what is required to make a good horror film.
With low-budget 1980's horror films, there are three key components which define whether the film is successful or not: a tense atmosphere, good death scenes and plenty of nudity. Elisabeth Brooks supplies the nudity with a memorable sex scene in the film where the participant begin to transition into Werewolves, so The Howling has enough nudity in one brief scene. When it comes to the quantity of kills, there could possibly have been more and a little more blood and gore as well, but the ones that are present in the film are executed extremely well. The kills stand up fairly well on both sides in the film with plenty of Werewolves dying and humans being victimized in intense scenes of slaughter. There could have been a touch more blood and gore in the film, but as a whole The Howling succeeds in the three most central areas. It does so strictly during the second half of the film, but it is all done so consistently well for the latter half of the feature that it is able to transcend the first half of the film. The Howling really ends up being predicated all on how well the second half of the feature turns out because the starting 47 minutes is nothing but pointless plotting and shallow attempts at character building. The fact is that The Howling is not a film with complex plotting or character development, it is simply a low budget horror film and nothing more. It benefits seriously well from having Joe Dante as the director because his ability to exercise strong visuals gives the film a strong second act. It is just a matter of sitting through the first to reach the second. Yet unlike countless other films where one half is poor and another half is strong, the other half in The Howling is so strong that it gives a good name to the entire film. It may not be the smartest exercise in Werewolf mythology, but after a slow start it certainly becomes an entertaining one.
I didn't really find as much of the dark comedy in the film as others seemed to have been able to. There were mild deadpan comedy moments in the film, but they were too little to initiate much laughter. What is more important is the horror atmosphere, and it works because The Howling is able to spark up some thrills. It mainly does that through its visual elements.
The makeup effects for the film are very good. The costumes and prosthetics used to create the Werewolves look really creepy in a manner which is eerie and frightening in a legitimate manner, and despite its low budget there is nothing stopping The Howling from maintaining state-of-the-art effects. The designs of the makeup in The Howling is brilliant because it evokes a truly great appearance for its mythological creatures who all have strong movements and thoroughly creepy appearances. They pose a genuine threat to the characters in the film which makes the horror themes of the film effective on several different levels. All these elements play out against the backdrop of scenery and production design which really evokes a feeling of isolation and distance from civilization. Plus, the musical score is a certain kind of hauntingly intense which reinforces the horror mood and the eerie nature of the feature as well as bringing a strong sense of dramatization to the atmosphere. The Howling is surprisingly effective in its atmosphere, and it ends up reminiscent of the first Evil Dead movie without as much comedy, consistency or general overall qualities. The visual grace of The Howling is excellent because it has a sense of exploitation to it without hitting viewers over the head with that notion, and it ends up being a story that can genuinely be taken seriously due to the story not going ridiculously over the top in any way.

So The Howling has a generic and dull first half which is built on characterizing a generic and familiar plot as well as thin characters. Once it gets passed that, the full extent of Joe Dante's directorial work is felt which fills the film with visual magnificence, a tense atmosphere and a genuine sense of horror.
October 30, 2014
It feels like this movie was directed by the makeup artist. There are many scenes that are unnecessarily long and focus on special effects, which at times are awful even for the time. The movie starts off very confusing and all over the place with a news reporter meeting a murderer in a porn theater and suffering from amnesia of the incident. Next thing you know her psychiatrist tells her to go to a retreat where all of the people attending are having a bon fire and getting drunk. The music in this movie is also very weird and feels like it was taken from a 1940's monster movie. An example of this is a scene where a someone comes to a frightening revelation about artwork found at the killers house and organ music starts playing... very loudly might I add. This movie deserves a much lower rating than most people give it.
October 23, 2014
Favorite werewolf movie thumbs up.
October 15, 2014
Not a bad Werewolf movie, it got its moments and I really enjoyed the ending. I didn't realize they would be more than one werewolf so that was a surprise. The special effects was really great. I'd prefer An American Werewolf in London over this, but it's still pretty good.
½ October 10, 2014
Werewolf movies must be really difficult to write as there seem to be fewer made than vampire or slasher or even traditional giant monster.This one has an interesting take and the patented Dante sensory overload that keeps it chugging to a fun, if predictable, climax.
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.
August 28, 2014
A+ in makeup and sfx!
½ June 23, 2014
A TV news lady on the track of a serial killer is struck with amnesia after briefly confronting the killer before the cops off him. With her husband along for support, she seeks psychological help at a New Age retreat. Soon her hubby is acting weird and having werewolf sex. Not a bad film, but not as good as the other werewolf film from 1981, An American Werewolf in London (well, or The Night of the Werewolf).
June 11, 2014
With a creepy atmosphere and outstanding special effects, Joe Dante gives one of the best film of his carrer, and probably one of the best werewolves movies ever made.
½ June 8, 2014
The Howling is an excellent cult classic werewolf film from a time when werewolf films still had a set of fangs and were menacing creatures before they were turned into pussies by the Twilight franchise. Here is a film where the creatures are menacing, there is actual horror, and there is also a lot of gory fun and dark humor to be found.

After reporter Karen White has a near-death experience with a serial killer during a botched police operation, she is left with emotional trauma where she can't sleep, can't perform her job duties, and is always having emotional breakdowns.

At the behest of her therapist, she and her husband travel to the therapist's recovery retreat known as "The Colony," while her co-workers investigate who the serial killer named Eddie was.

Things seem to go okay for the couple at first, although they other members of the retreat can be rather strange, until her husband is attacked by a mysterious creature in the wilderness. Though, he lives, he begins to act strangely after the attack which worries Karen.

Meanwhile, during their time at the retreat, Karen's co-workers are also having a series of strange events happening around them as they investigate Eddie, like how his body has suddenly disappeared from the morgue, or all the strange drawings in his apartment, and several other things.

As Karen and her co-workers investigate, they unravel a deeper, more complex mystery not only surrounding Eddie, but also the members of "The Colony," in ways that could threaten their very lives.

The Howling is a very atmospheric and creepy horror film that takes its time to unfold, which is crucial because of the core mystery. While its reveal is nothing new, it is nonetheless very effective and menacing. The creepy and menacing nature of the film is also bolstered by the fantastic effects (At least for the time, depending on how much you like putting on the rose-colored lenses) . While the effects aren't as polished as say, An American Werewolf In London, they are still very good and werewolves are truly scary creatures.

The acting is also pretty good, though it does have its cheesy moments. Still, considering this is not only a monster flick, but also a monster flick from the 80's, the acting is far better than what it should be. The actors certainly made their mysterious characters fascinating to follow, especially as their mysterious sides were revealed.

With a scary atmosphere, terrific storytelling, good acting, funny dark humor, gore, terrific special effects, and more, The Howling is an excellent cult classic horror film that still holds up really well, even without the rose-colored lenses that a lot of these types of films require to view them in this day and age. If you want a werewolf flick with some real bite, this is a very good one.
May 24, 2014
The ending is one of the best endings in a horror movie, also the graphics are the best in all werewolf movies. An excellent werewolf movie.
May 22, 2014
Okay, it's not a good movie but Joe Dante is known for his B-movie homages. That said, it came out before the legendary American Werewolf in London, so considering this, The Howling is actually a quantum step forward as far as werewolf movies go. The make-up effects and animatronics had never been seen in a horror film like this before. Interestingly, we spend half the film focusing on characters and the ending is quite clever. That said, it's a painfully silly movie to watch at times. For some odd reason it has been banned in the UK because of the extras on the DVD. Something to do with the "snuff footage" shot for that little porn movie our main character watches at the beginning of the film. As far as I can see, the extras don't contain anything new regarding that scene. Perhaps, it's because Joe Dante admits that it was very difficult and disturbing to shoot that scene.
May 19, 2014
The Howling was a monster movie that was a pleasant surprise for me in particular. I loved the story and the setting which works perfectly for the werewolf myth. The special effects were astounding for their time, and most people who love horror movies still remember those effects 24 years later. Joe Dante's directing of the movie is slow at first but quickly picks up pace during the last half, starting with an incredible scene around a campfire. For those who saw the movie, you will know what scene I'm talking about. The acting could've been better, but I guess it's adequate for a movie like this. It's better than the acting in all of the Friday the 13th films put together, and I'm sure most will agree with me on that point. Along with An American Werewolf In London, The Howling is one of my all time favorite werewolf films so far. Neither one is great, but both are enjoyable nonetheless, with The Howling edging out American Werewolf In London in my opinion.
May 11, 2014
While I am not usually a big fan of werewolf movies (aside from Teen Wolf),The Howling changed this view very quickly. Amazing special effects for the time! The transformation from human to werewolf is outstanding with the final product of the werewolf being exceptionally awesome! The first half of the movie proves a little slow, but quickly picks up in an intense werewolves vs. humans all out battle in which both sides take a beating. If you are looking for a monster movie with lots of 80's fun and cheddar, then this film will fix your craving!
April 8, 2014
Extremely well crafted, entertaining, yet amusing The Howling is one of the best Horror films in the 80's and it is also one of the best werewolf movies ever made since An American Werewolf in London plus this is also Joe Dante's best film out of all of his movies in his filmography. The Howling is about a young reporter name Karen White who goes to The Colony following advice from her psychiatrist after a traumatized plan in trapping a serial killer who stalked her. But soon when Karen enters The Colony the locals aren't who they are at all and she soon learns that the locals are werewolves and she must escape before she gets killed by the werewolves. I love this movie and to be honest this is a marvelous film from start to finish and Joe Dante sure knows his style when it comes to making Horror films and he does have some talent when it comes to making Horror films and The Howling is always Joe Dante's best film in my opinion. One of the magnificent things about The Howling is that the movie not only has an interesting plot but the film is also well paced thanks to a clever script the movie works well a lot. The second thing I like about The Howling is that the film is very suspenceful and there are loads of suspenceful scenes in the film that will freak you out(The first attack of the werewolf, The cabin scene, The psychiatrist's office attack and the groundbreaking finale)plus the movie is extremely atmospheric which gives the movie a werewolf feel and of course next to the atmosphere the special effects are one of the true main highlights of this movie. All of the effects are well done in this movie I mean it check out the scene where Eddie Quist transforms into a werewolf the effects are top notch and extremely powerful and it is even way better than the CGI crap now a days used in most werewolf movies and this is the by far the best werewolf transformation scene in a werewolf movie since Wes Craven's Cursed transformation scene. But the true main highlight of the film is the sounddtrack by the great Pino Donaggio who also composed the soundtrack for the 1976 Brian DePalma classic Carrie. Pino Donaggio seriously managed the soundtrack very well in this movie and I adore the score in the finale even the attack at the psychiatrist's office which delivers some nice suspense at the exact same time. Now the acting here is fantastic Dee Wallace did a magnificent job with her performance as the protagonist Karen White while the rest of the casts did the same thing as well and all of the casts did a fantastic job with their performances in the film so far. Director Joe Dante created an amazing Werewolf movie that every Horror fan loved and he shows proof that he has skills when he made this movie and he also knows the world of Horror very well and this is his best effort since The Twilight Zone The Movie. Overall The Howling is an amazing werewolf film that can give any Horror fan a slight of amusement and entertainment at the same time. This movie gets a 10/10.
March 21, 2014
I don't say this often but I think The Howling is one horror movie that while good, wouldn't be a bad basis for a remake. With some upgraded special effects and a few plot tweaks I think it could be something pretty cool nowadays. On it's own, The Howling is a pretty good werewolf movie, mostly it suffers from not having aged well.
½ March 16, 2014
Sadly, this has more in common with yawning than howling.
March 2, 2014
The Howling (Joe Dante, 1980)
[originally posted 19Jul2001]

Joe Dante has done some amazing work in his time. He's also done some godawful things for which he should be ashamed. The Howling falls dead in the center of those two. It's creepy, atmospheric, and effective, due in no small part to the incredible talent assembled behind the scenes (John Sayles adapted Gary Brandner's novel; Bottin produced; Dante directed). Unfortunately, it also shows exactly why Dee Wallace never made it past B movies, with the arguable exception of E.T., and disease-of-the-week TV flicks. I mean, she's just bad. The rest of the cast makes it work, though, including "holographic doctor" Robert Picardo in his big-screen debut as the serial killer obsessed with Dee. His line "I'm going to give you a piece of my mind," and the action that follows it, are some of the finest moments in horror film.

As a sidelight, this was also the only major film in which the late Elisabeth Brooks appeared (as Marsha, the seductress who goes after Dee Wallace's husband). Brooks is worth seeking out in just about anything, but this is the only flick you're likely to find on rental-house shelves. (She actually made four; the other three were all late-eighties products that have unfortunately faded into obscurity.)

If you didn't see this when it came out, you'll probably find it somewhat on the cheesy side. Well, okay, it is, but remember that in 1980 this was groundbreaking stuff by anyone's standards. For those of us who did catch this one back in the day, it makes for a great nostalgia trip. Makes a great double bill with its contemporary Wolfen (1981). ***
½ February 4, 2014
Special effects in this one makes it worth watching. Keep in mind it's before CGI. Better than average werewolf story.
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