Release year: 1981
Director: Joe Dante
Screenwriter: John Sayles, Terence H. Winkless, Gary Brandner (Novel)
Starring: Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, Dennis Dugan, Christopher Stone, Belinda Balaski, Kevin McCarthy, John Carradine
Ratings: 1 Saturn Award: Best Horror
After a close encounter with a growling serial killer, Karen White (Dee Wallace) and her husband Bill (Christopher Stone) goes to a remote mountain resort to hopefully be able to leave the episode behind them. But they soon discover that things are not quite as they should be and the wolves are howling in the forest surrounding them.
Directed by Joe Dante (Gremlins 1984) this delivers the same tension and a storyline driven foreward with a skilled hand a sense for characters. Add special effects created by the assistant of Rick Baker, using a technique he mastered excellently in An American Werewolf in London, released the same year, and you are left with a brilliant and dramatic horror movie that will have you gripped till the end. As mentioned earlier, the special effects are of lesser quality than the similar work done by Baker, the changing scenes seems to drag on a bit, but they are neverless still better than a lot of later years’ computer effects and still impresses. Wallace (Cujo 1983) is wonderful as the woman the storyline is centered around, at once strong yet vulnerable, she is a perfect choice for a heroine and the fact that her and Stone was married at the time, assures a strong chemistry and natural sense of ease between them. They get great support from Belinda Balaski (Piranha 1978) and Dennis Dugan (Grown Ups 2010) as Karen’s friends who come to her rescue in times of distress and on the opposite side Robert Picardo (Innerspace 1987) and Elisabeth Brooks (Deep Space 1988) makes themselves noticed. The Howling won a Saturn Award for Best Horror and I dare say it will entertain today’s audience, so if you haven’t seen it yet, make sure to give it a chance.
NB: The trailer contains spoilers!
The climatic transformation had to be done all in closeup because the film had exceeded its budget by then, and it had to be shot in an office because they had no money for sets anymore.