The Howling - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Howling Reviews

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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 13, 2014
Awesome werewolf flick.
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.
January 27, 2014
Some of the effects may look a bit dated now but this is still a great werewolf story and an entertaining enough horror film. It follows the story of TV journalist, Karen White (played by Dee Wallace), who has been on the trail of a homicidal murderer. After an attempt to snare the psychopath goes wrong, Dee and her husband take respite at "The Colony", a kind of hippie commune run by therapist Dr. Waggner. However, all is not as it seems at the retreat and Karen, her partner and a couple of her colleagues uncover a dark secret with some pretty horrifying outcomes. There's a less than subtle sexual thread to the movie which permeates much of the action. Generally the effects are good for the time although we do, I feel, linger longer on the animatronic transformations than is really credible. Indeed there are a few scenes where, rather than staring in disbelief as various characters sprout hairs, slobber and grow huge fangs and claws, the protagonists would be better served to run like hell....and they'd probably make over the county boarder before the changes are complete. Once we have got through the metamorphoses and we have fully-fledged werewolves, they are amongst some of the best on film and certainly up to that point in the history of the genre. Director Joe Dante puts in some nice touches that reference directly and indirectly the old Universal Lon Chaney movie of the 1940s. Later he went on to direct Gremlins and you can really see how his style was developing here. There are also a few darkly comic moments that lighten a sometimes clunky and cliched script. There's a nice supporting cast in the form of the cuddly Patrick MacNee, rather portly Slim Pickens, vampy Elisabeth Brooks and 80s macho-man Christopher Stone. This movie is what it is and doesn't pretend to be anything sophisticated. It has been surpassed by slicker production methods and CGI effects but retains a good atmospheric feel and is a great, late-night genre piece to be enjoyed in the early hours on a chilly night.
December 30, 2013
A good werewolf movie is a very rare beast indeed, I can think of only two, and this is one of them.
½ December 21, 2013
Reasonable werewolf movie, though the bar is set pretty low in that genre. Plot is better than most horror movies. The special effects were probably fairly innovative in 1981, now they look incredibly cheap and lame.

Performances are OK. Good to see Slim Pickens as the Sheriff.
December 17, 2013
Gave this another look since we've been watching/re-watching a bunch of 80's era horror staples the past few weeks.

The film still holds up rather well, though I'm beginning to hate Dee Wallace' character, she's got this rather whining tone from the first word she speaks, and has little to do except be a victim and whinge about this or that.

The special effects are rather well-done, though not as slick as American Werewolf In London, as this production had to resort to some animation at one stage of things in the last reel.

December 4, 2013
Favorite werewolf movie thumbs up
½ November 6, 2013
Haven't seen it since I was a kid, and it turned out a lot better than I remembered! Great acting, cool visuals, awesome effects, engaging story. A really, really cool werewolf flick! RECOMMENDED
½ October 21, 2013
It's a unique take on werewolf horror that broke new ground with its special effects for the wolf transformations. There are a few references to other films that involve werewolves,, and the premise is frightening.
½ October 18, 2013
don't see what all the hype was about with these movie, not sure how they made so many of them, it was cheesy and the american werewolf movies are way better than these
October 16, 2013
The storyline wasn't that great. A little dull at times, but great special effects/makeup for the early 80's.
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