Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year! and: The Howling.

Happy New Year everyone!  Or as some like to think of it: Happy End of Days!  Whatever your preference I hope 2012 is a good one.  I am not one to be sentimental but I am pretty sure 1/1/12 was the 5 year anniversary of my blogging career!  Yes, what started out of sheer boredom and a way to distract myself from a wicked hangover has become become my number one hobby!  So thank you kind readers who put up with my misspellings and lazy dependence on swear words to express emotion!  I hope to bring you much more horror in the years to come!

And now on to another well plotted and structured review (not really).  Fangoria recently did a two issue spread on Joe Dante's The Howling, also known as the "the film usually overshadowed by An American Werewolf in London".  Both films came out the same year (1981), both share a similar theme (Werewolf! There! Wolf!), both are infused with humor (John Landis, better known for comedy, directed An American Werewolf in London), and both feature kick ass special effects!!  Yet, The Howling is treated like Werewolf's less attractive little sister!  I am guilty of thinking this as well.  In fact, I can't say with certainty I had ever seen The Howling before.  I remember the weird sequel with the marsupials, but I don't remember the original.  Thanks to Fangoria I have remedied this situation and and I can proudly say that that An American Werewolf in London IS a better picture! But The Howling is pretty damn good as well.

"I am prettier than David Naughton"

Karen White (Dee Wallace) is a television journalist about to uncover the identity of a notorious serial killer.  When the big reveal doesn't go quite as planned, Karen suffers a bout of post-traumatic stress disorder.  The television station's psychologist (?) recommends that she spend a few days at "The Colony," his retreat center set in the woods.  Karen heads out there with her husband Bill.

Who drives like this?

Meanwhile, Karen's friend and co-worker Terri (Belinda Balaski) researches the life of Eddie Quist, the serial killer now presumed dead.  This is old school research, before the Internet!  They actually go to a bookstore!  Terri and her producer boyfriend Chris (Dennis Dugan) discover that Eddie may have been a werewolf! Meanwhile, Karen discovers that her husband is probably sleeping with the local whore Marsha (Elizabeth Brooks) and that everyone at The Colony may be a werewolf!!!  Coincidence?  I think not!!

Cut to Rob Bottin's transformation sequence.  If you read this blog regularly you know I LOVE Rob Bottin!  And his work here is amazing!  The sequence is similar to Rick Baker's work in An American Werewolf in London but not as famous. I think the transformation is better in Werewolf.  The makeup is incredible, Landis shot it perfectly, and David Naughton sold the hell out of it.  But don't discount The Howling.  Bottin is a genius, and I was surprised at how effective the transformation was, especially the final one at the end.

The Howling, although not really scary, has a lot going for it.  There is a great chase sequence in the middle, some nice gore, and plenty of sight gags and cameos to keep a horror hound interested.  My favorites include cameos by Roger Corman and Forrest J. Ackerman, and bit parts played by horror heroes such as Dick Miller (Bucket of Blood) and John Carradine (practically every horror film ever made.)  When you watch it, keep an eye open for the numerous "wolf" references Dante scattered throughout the film.  Next, I watch the sequel, which I think is the one with the marsupials and I know is the one with an interesting closing credit sequence.

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