Retro Review: The Howling (1981)

The Howling, of all of the Werewolf movies that have come, the Howling could be one of the best.  When thinking about Werewolf movies, I have tried to pick the cream of the crop and today we have, the Howling.  This werewolf movie is based off a book of the same name by Gary Brandner.  This is a bizarre film, but a lot of fun.  When I was younger I remember seeing the sequels very often but never the original.  It took, until I was into my 20s before seeing the film.  It was always hard to find on VHS or DVD.  Now I have the trouble with the rest, I do have the sequel with Christopher Lee and it is pretty good.  In total there are 6 sequels and with each they get worse. 

  • Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf
  • Howling III: The Marsupials
  • Howling IV: The Original Nightmare
  • Howling V: The Rebirth
  • Howling VI: The Freaks
  • Howling: New Moon Rising

Yep that is the list, enjoy if you can find them and there is another film, not sure what to make of it, it is pretty terrible, released in 2011 The Howling: Reborn.  I just cannot tell if this is a remake or what, it has no connection to the original films, except it is about werewolves.  I wouldn’t bother seeing the film, it is hard to watch.  Not all of the sequels are worth watching, although I like most of them.  I missed New Moon Rising and it has been years since I have seen 3-6.  I have them on my list of movies to add to the collection.  There is a strange Blu Ray collection it is called, Howling Trilogy and it includes The Marsupials III, The Rebirth V, The Freaks VI.  For some reason the Original Nightmare is absent.

One thing before I move on to the story of the Howling, I love the look of the werewolf.  These days were are getting the wolf, rather than a “wolfman” type werewolf.  That is what I think of when werewolf, a wolfman.  I also loved this movie as it is not about a singular cursed werewolf, more of a pack.  But check out the werewolf, pretty awesome, especially for 1981, the special effects and make-up are so great in the Howling.  The werewolf from the Howling is the reason my wife has werewolf nightmares and has all here life, no joke.

the-howling-werewolf-joe-dante

If you haven’t seen the film it is about a Karen, television news anchor who is being stalked by a serial killer.   She works with the police, she takes part to capture her stalker by meeting him in a porno theater.  He forces her to watch a video of a young woman being raped, and when Karen turns around to see the stalker she screams.  The police gun him down and Karen suffers amnesia and is told to go to a place called “the Colony.”

Her and her husband go and find a bunch of weird people including a overly sexual woman who tries to hit on Karen’s husband and resists her sexual advances.  Eventually he is bitten by wolf like creature and he begins to act differently.  Later, we meet a resurrected Eddie the stalker again and find he is a werewolf and Karen gets attacked by her husband as a werewolf.  The movie starts off pretty crazy, slows down when they get to the Colony while meeting a suicidal man and a bunch of other crazy people.  It is crazy, but the ending of the movie does it for me, Karen goes on live television and shifts into a wolf and shows the world, but is shot dead immediately.  Which is one of the most amazing scenes of the film and Dee Wallace plays the part perfectly.

Dee-Wallace-as-Karen-White-in-The-Howling

This is a great film to watch, more weird than scary, but it works.   There were three notable werewolf movies released in 1981 An American Werewolf in London, which was released 4 months after the Howling.  There was also one I have not seen in many years, Wolfen.  An American Werewolf in London is possibly the best werewolf movie to date.  But don’t count out the Howling, it is fun.

Scream Factory released the ultimate Blu Ray edition with amazing cover art.  If you want to get a copy, this is the one to get.  It is jam packed with special features and I’ll have to say the HD was great, it was a really good transfer.  Plus, it has some pretty sweet cover art.  The Howling is one that should be in any horror film collectors, collection.

If you are upset about the $20 price, get over it!  The Scream Factory Blu Rays are 100% worth the money, with the quality of the picture and sound and the special features, it is worth $20.  Buy it now!  HELL, while you’re at it, grab the Scream Factories release of Howling II…I mean, it’s not over yet.

IMDB.com ranks the Howling at 6.6, and I give it a 7.6.

About Ray Marek III 243 Articles
I am a lifelong horror fan. I have written for a few web sites, Kung-Fu Comrades, Nightfall Unlimited and Rage of Rayzor. Freddy's Revenge was the first Horror Film I watched, I was 5. When my mom found out I liked horror films, she began challenging me. Soon to follow were the likes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Dawn of the Dead. Horror is in my blood, I want to share that with you...my blood...horror. I write unpublished comics. Lifelong dream is to write comics for a major comic book publisher or build my own comic book company.