Retro Movie Review: The Howling


It has been a very long time since I had seen ‘The Howling’ but I remember it being a solid werewolf film and I also know it is considered a classic 80’s horror film.  One of the things I remember most from the movie is when I was a kid it came on TV and I was watching the scene where we see the first full view of a werewolf transformation.  My mom was standing behind me eating some soup or something and the dudes face begins to bubble and liquefy and my mom gets sick and runs out of the room hahaha!!!  So already the movie made a great memory for me!  So the question is, does the movie hold up or should it remain ‘Just a Memory’ for fear of ruining my good thoughts of the film after re-watching?  Well grab some Ozzy records and lets Bark At The Moon bitches!

The movie starts off with a famous TV reporter, Karen White, entering the seedy Red Light district of L.A. to meet with an individual that has been murdering women in the area.  This person for some reason has taken a keen interest in Karen for some reason.  Karen has been wired by cops to make sure they can try to capture the guy but run into difficulties and they lose track of her and have to send patrol cops to go look for her.  Karen does not know this and meets with the murderer in a shadowy peep show film booth.  While the porn rolls the murderer offers to show Karen a secret and suddenly we have a blur of action and cops bust in and shoot dead the murderer.

These events set up Karen to having nightmares and seeking help from a psychiatrist who runs a colony filled with ‘patients’ in the countryside.  Karen and her husband decide to take a break and go to the colony to seek help.  After they arrive they are met by various individuals with different kinds of personalities ranging from overly friendly to almost feral.  As the movie plays on it becomes apparent that the colony is filled with lycanthropes headed by the psychiatrist which offered Karen help.

The whole plan of the psychiatrist was to find a play for werewolves to subtly begin to integrate into the modern world by hunting cattle instead of people and while also covertly spreading their message in the media to help soften the public perception of werewolves when they become known.

The Howling’s story is very solid and is laid out really well in the movie.  The actors do a good job and the way the werewolves are revealed slowly in the movie really works in the films favor.  The movie also raises questions of how would a new culture that is held to certain stereotypes by another culture be received when trying to integrate.  We also see the viewpoints of whether such stereotypes are true or if people can adapt and change as times go on or fall into the very stereotypes that categorize them.

The Howling is also known for the ending it has.  Which involves people asking whether what they just seen or not was true and many questions left unanswered and was a problem ever really averted.  Also we never know what happens to the people that were involved at the news station and if there was a cover up or not.  Which really makes for an interesting ending to the movie and leaves the viewer wondering what has happened?

Now as great as The Howling is it does have a few flaws.  One was when Karen and her husband got into an argument which effectively removes him from the film.  The argument to me seemed to kind of come out of nowhere.  Now, the basis of the argument had merit but how Karen even knew about anything to argue about…I don’t know and it just felt a little forced to move the story ahead.

The second problem I had was why did the werewolves have such an interest in Karen?  Now I can imply from my own reasoning that they wanted her because she was a famous TV news reporter and since their plan was to secretly start trying to integrate into modern society she could have given them a voice in the media to where she could begin angling news stories to their favor.  Now, this is just what I kind of concluded, the film doesn’t seem to really clearly convey this unless I missed something.  I sometimes like this in movies and it wasn’t a big deal here but I can see where some people might be confused.

These are minor issues though as ‘The Howling’ is really modern age, for the time, classic werewolf film and a great 80’s horror gem.  If you haven’t watched the movie in awhile go back and revisit it as it has great story development and asks some poignant questions about culture clashes that are relevant today now more than ever.



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