Directed by Joe Dante [Other horror films: Piranha (1978), Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983, segment ‘It’s a Good Life’), Gremlins (1984), The ‘Burbs (1989), Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990), Trapped Ashes (2006, segment ‘Wraparound’), The Hole (2009), Burying the Ex (2014), Nightmare Cinema (2018, segment ‘Mirari’)]
I saw this movie once many years ago, and I didn’t care for it then. Upon rewatching it, my views haven’t really altered all that much.
The Howling has more than a few positive qualities. Plenty of the actors and actresses are either good or fun, the special effects are very well done, there are some tense scenes, and the setting itself (forest retreat) is pretty decent.
Dee Wallace did a very good job, especially near the beginning, of a woman suffering from the aftermath of a violent attack. I didn’t really care for where the story took her, but still, she did a solid job. Patrick Macnee stood out also, as did Belinda Balaski, who, along with being a rather attractive woman, was one of the few characters really trying to figure out what was going on. And need I mention Dick Miller? His appearances are always fun, and this one was no different.
The special effects certainly were top-notch, with good werewolf transformations and severed arms. Really, if there’s one reason to watch this film, it’s probably for what they were able to do as far as the effects went, as even by today’s stands, they’re impressive.
The problem is, though, despite the positives (the Colony, in concept, was cool, for instance), this movie just didn’t jibe well with me. I’m not sure what it is – it has elements I rather like throughout the film, but it just didn’t work for me.
Often hailed as a werewolf classic (which, let’s be honest, isn’t that much an accomplishment), The Howling didn’t do much for me. It had a memorable ending, memorable transformations, memorable actors. But the movie just falls flat, despite all that, and end up well below average.