HMM Day 9 – The Howling

In my more younger days, one of my most favorite things to do was go to heavy metal shows. I’m telling you all, there’s nothing better than death metal shows! The music is heavy and intense, at certain points you can feel your heart miss a step or two. There’s nothing better than going to see some of your favorite bands and let loose in the pit. A place of brutal tranquility, brotherhood and shooting the shit. Tell me any other place where you can get blasted in the face or crack a rib and still feel a sense of companionship with your assailant?

I still remember seeing Becoming The Archetype and while I was in the pit, a dude in a wheel chair came in. He was being pushed from behind by his friend. Let me tell you, the dude was a monster! Just rolling in and clearing the way. He was swinging his arms and wailing on anything that crossed his path. If you fell down in front of him then he and his friend would just roll you over. He was like a cybertronic tank with flailing appendages and he bore his teeth and smiled as he tanked you over. The victims didn’t care! Who can get pissed at a guy in a wheel chair?

It’s good to let out your inner beast once in a while. Hitting the gym, breaking some boards, fighting a group of annoying teenagers, driving real fast. I always felt like these kinds of activities were good for culture and the mosh pit was my release. It’s a way for a young man to unwind all that pent up aggression and let it out in a positive manner. You didn’t have to go ballistic and kill a bunch of people like those stupid Purge movies. Lightly tapping into your inner beast is just enough to give a certain release. Without it and you become a pent up monster, ready to burst and cause terror.

I know of this one lady. Her name is Karen White and let me tell you, she needs to release. That’s why today we honor 1981’s The Howling for day nine of our Horror Movie Marathon!

The Howling is a 1981 horror film directed by Joe Dante. You may know of Joe, he’s brought us a couple movies you may or may not have heard of like… Gremlins, The Burbs, Piranha and one my most favorite films 1993’s Matinee.

The Story

A nice reporter named Karen is helping the police capture a serial killer named Eddie Quist. After a close call with death Karen and her husband head out to a retreat instructed by her doctor. Once there the compound has peculiar things going on. There are strange people and strange sounds coming from the forest. Karen soon learns the retreat is home to a pack of werewolves!

Werewolf films are a strange sub-genre to the horror catalog. The amount of werewolf movies is overshadowed by vampires and they don’t get as much attention as most. I think it’s because a good werewolf film is a hit or miss scenario. Everything revolves around the wolf and if you make it look terrible then it can ruin your entire movie. If the werewolf looks like shit then your movie is shit. You as a director are putting more on the line when attempting this monster film. But hard core horror fans love them and I think it’s because the werewolf represents something in us all. That meek person that has some deep inner beast within us. We’re logical people with and understanding of what is right and wrong at least those of us who are sane. We don’t hurt people and most desire a certain peace when it comes to our actions. But once in a while… we wouldn’t mind letting out a little aggression.

In the early early 80’s a trend of werewolf films hit like a disease. I think when one studio decided on a high budget film, others took notice and had to get into the game. Kind of the late 80’s underwater horror films. You had An American Werewolf in London, The Howling and Wolfen. Between the three films American Werewolf In London and The Howling are arguably the best and within those two, the debate rages on. In my opinion Joe Dante’s The Howling is the best of the two. At least that’s what I have come to realize through the years.

The film is soaked in rich atmosphere. It’s like you’re seeing everything as some strange dream sequence. Dante imbues rich colors of red and green throughout the movie and it gives it a majestic tone. When Karen is looking off into the forest one night, the eerie light in the distant makes the forest seem alive and enticing. Which is the entire plot of the movie. I will say, the cinematography alone is enough to make this movie the ultimate champion of werewolf films.

Another thing is the werewolf’s themselves. They completely kick ass and are ten times more terrifying than the rest. Most werewolf films make them look stiff and less mobile. American Werewolf is great but you can tell it’s a mobile prop. You never get great close ups of its figure. It’s not a bad thing, much better than Wolfen which doesn’t even have werewolves. Instead they use dogs! They aren’t even wolves!

But The Howling are free moving and interact with their surroundings. It’s like you’re seeing a real werewolves. You see how large and menacing they are. They’re a part of the scenery as much as the actors. They aren’t stiff because there is an actual actor wearing the suit.

Comedy?

Supposedly this movie is a comedy. But I don’t get it. The only scene I can think of that made me laugh was when Karen White is turning into a werewolf and they flip to different viewers reacting. They’re seeing this lady turn and everyone is acting like it’s no big deal. I can see that and laugh but as for the rest of film. It’s pretty serious shit which is good. The very beginning has Karen working with the cops to catch Eddie. So she meets him in a porno store. You can tell Dee Wallace didn’t have to act uncomfortable because they actually filmed this scene in a porn shop. The film has this disturbing setting and does things that make you go “eww.” I for one don’t see the infamous werewolf sex scene as funny. In fact I feel the opposite… jealous! Who wouldn’t want to have awesome hairy howling werewolf love making?

Special Place

The Howling has a special place in my heart. It was the first actual horror film I encountered as a young child. Not necessarily the entire film but just the famous Eddie transformation scene. It freaked me out so much that I had severe nightmares for a long time. But it did send me on a path of appreciation and love for the genre. I would have given anything to be a werewolf, especially one that can change whenever they want. The Howling is a film that implies the werewolves live consciously with their inner beast just like how we do every day.

It’s a brilliant movie that demands respect. Both for its edgy style and amazing effects that were way beyond its time. So on this day of the horror season watch and love 1981’s The Howling. Thanks for reading day nine of my horror movie marathon!

Thanks for reading! Check out other past day nine entries.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Great shout this one. For me, American Werewolf In London still has the best transformation, but The Howling has the best werewolves.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. nscovell says:

      Yea it’s always a toss up between the two

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The shame there being that there are some good titles in the genre that get overlooked. Dog Soldiers, Ginger Snaps, and Late Phases for example are well worth watching IMO.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. nscovell says:

        Yea they do. Silver bullet is one of my favorites along with Bad Moon

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Silver Bullet I haven’t actually seen. Bad Moon though is a good one. Dog vs Werewolf is a great scene.

        Liked by 1 person

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