I watched The Howling (1981) tonight. This is one of a handful of enduring werewolf films that came out in the early 1980s.
Here’s the setup: After a television newswoman (Dee Wallace) has a harrowing experience with a serial killer, she goes to a mountain resort to recover. The problem? The locals are all werewolves. Predictable hijinks ensue.
This movie is almost 40 years old, and well…it shows. The soundtrack sounds like elevator music. The choreography is dated. When blood splatters (as it often does in werewolf movies), it looks like something from a can marked Sherwin-Williams.
Nevertheless, there are some genuinely creepy scenes in this movie. One of the strengths of The Howling (noted even at the time) was the makeup artistry of Rob Bottin. The werewolves in this movie do look real, even if the blood doesn’t.
Strong performances in this film by Dee Wallace, as well as the late Christopher Stone and the late Elisabeth Brooks.
This movie does, nevertheless, contain a few clichés that would be best avoided by a savvy filmmaker approaching this subject in the modern era. For example: two metamorphosing werewolves having explicit sex. This would be hard to do convincingly even with today’s CGI technology. It was really hard in 1981, and should not have been attempted, in this viewer’s opinion.
This is not a bad movie, but it isn’t a particularly memorable one, either. Among werewolf films of that era, I much prefer An American Werewolf in London, which was released the same year.