The Howling (1981) starring Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, Dennis Dugan, Christopher Stone, Belinda Balaski, Kevin McCarthy, John Carradine directed by Joe Dante Movie Review

The Howling (1981)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Dee Wallace in The Howling (1981)

Animal Instinct

There is a lot of love for "The Howling" with many proclaiming it to be the best of its kind and before I continue I suppose I should say spoiler alert as by kind I mean werewolf movie and because I will mention some plot aspects further on. Now in fairness when I got to watch "The Howling" for the first time towards the end of the 80s I was not blown away but reasonably impressed especially by the scenes which feature special effects. But over the years "The Howling" has fallen down my list of movies and to be honest on my most recent watch left me sadly unimpressed.

Having been plagued with calls from a serial killer, TV reporter Karen White (Dee Wallace - The Perfect Husband) puts herself in danger by meeting up with him in an adult video store where he forces her to watch porn. Just before he tries to kill her the cops arrive and shoot him down but the experience leaves her traumatized and her marriage to Bill (Christopher Stone) strained. Under the advisement of Dr. George Waggner (Patrick Macnee - The Sea Wolves) they head to his retreat called The Colony whilst Karen's colleagues continue to investigate the serial killer. But before long Karen realises that there are some strange things going on at night in The Colony leading her to fight for her survival.

Elisabeth Brooks and Patrick Macnee in The Howling (1981)

When "The Howling" starts it does so with a great opening series of scenes as we follow Karen into an adult video store and we have the scene of her forced to watch porn in a cubicle. The scene is fiercely tense and culminates with a sharp but powerful scene and understandably leaves her traumatised. The trouble is that after that it seems to spin its wheels for a while even as we see the extent of Karen's traumatized state and her and her husband heading to The Colony.

But the most annoying thing is that not only do we get hints early on but once we reach The Colony it is pretty obvious what is going on, even a subplot surrounding the sexily dressed Marsha is pretty obvious. Yes with the interjection of scenes revolving around Karen's colleague's investigation we learn of something, a bit mystery surrounding the serial killer but it is too signposted that we have werewolves at The Colony.

As for the whole horror side of things well to be honest there is tension but nothing near to the level of scare needed to make this work for me. But of course "The Howling" has what is probably the greatest on screen transformation from human to werewolf. The transition scene is stunning although even then it seems a bit too long, to much of a showpiece scene which is given too much time.

What this all boils down to is that "The Howling" ends up just a good 80s werewolf horror movie but one which despite the great transition scene doesn't really scream that it is better than any other horror.