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The Howling
The Howling
Actors: Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, Dennis Dugan, Christopher Stone, Belinda Balaski
Director: Joe Dante
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
R     2001     1hr 31min

A graduate of Roger Corman's school of low-budget ingenuity, Joe Dante gained enough momentum with 1978's Piranha to rise to the challenge of The Howling, and he brought along Piranha screenwriter John Sayles to cowrite th...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, Dennis Dugan, Christopher Stone, Belinda Balaski
Director: Joe Dante
Creators: Daniel H. Blatt, Jack Conrad, Michael Finnell, Rob Bottin, Gary Brandner, John Sayles, Terence H. Winkless
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Sub-Genres: Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 08/28/2001
Original Release Date: 04/10/1981
Theatrical Release Date: 04/10/1981
Release Year: 2001
Run Time: 1hr 31min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
Subtitles: Spanish, French
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Member Movie Reviews

Reviewed on 2/19/2019...
Great plot line and special effects without all the CGI non-sense. A must see for horror fans!
Reviewed on 1/21/2009...
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Classic werewolf movie now in an expanded DVD package!
Ryan Harvey | Los Angeles, CA USA | 07/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"When "The Howling" appeared in theaters in 1981, it heralded a mini-revival of the werewolf movie that took advantage of advances in special effects; two films followed later that year: "Wolfen" and John Landis's beloved "An American Werewolf in London." Although "The Howling" doesn't quite match the artistry and continual popularity of Landis's film, it nonetheless has aged wonderfully and is still one of the most enjoyable horror films of its decade. It's scary without getting too gory for the average viewer, has superb special effects that don't overwhelm the story, features a fun cast of familiar faces, and has a quirky sense of humor and loads of movie in-jokes for horror movie fans.MGM first released "The Howling" in a no-frills DVD that let the movie down: no extras, a cheap and scratchy transfer, and a very dull mono soundtrack. Thankfully, they realized the popularity of the film and are now giving us a nice edition with revamped sound (5.1 Surround), a sharp picture, and a big bowl full o' extras.John Sayles's script (co-written with Terence H. Winkless) unapologetically drops the classic werewolf legend into the modern-day -- in this case, the world of television news and the fad of self-help psychology. News anchor Karen White (Dee Wallace-Stone), while on a special assignment to lure out a serial killer (Robert Picardo from "Star Trek: Voyager") in the city, is attacked by something bestial. On the advice of psychiatrist Dr. Waggner (Patrick Macnee), Karen and her husband (Christopher Stone) head to Waggner's clinical retreat in the woods. However, there's something very disturbing about the other patients in the colony, and those weird wolf howls at night won't stop...The werewolf transformations supervised by Rob Bottin still have an amazing effect on viewers. Using air bladders, make-up, rubber, and pneumatics, Bottin was able to create a real-time transformation of a human into a nine-foot two-legged wolf. We see limbs snap, snouts grow, claws sprout, the whole deal, and it's damned incredible. (Amazingly, only six months later Rick Baker would do this movie one better with the transformation in "An American Werewolf in London.")The cast goes a long way to making the film work away from the effects. Dee Wallace provides the serious angle to the film, and is convincingly fragile. The rest of the actors add a wonderful loose humor: Slim Pickens, John Carradine, Belinda Balaski, and director Joe Dante's favorite actor, Dick Miller. The beautiful Elisabeth Brooks steals every scene she's in as a femme fatale who burns with sensuality, mystery, and one weird leather fetishist outfit. Director Joe Dante, who would go on to direct such wacky films as "Gremlins" and "Looney Tunes: Back in Action," puts his nutty sense of humor all over the film and packs it with in-jokes. The names of many of the characters are directors of werewolf movies, werewolf films and cartoons pop up on the televisions, and "wolf" items are scattered all over the place (Wolf Chili, a book by Thomas Wolfe, a reference to Wolfman Jack, a copy of the book "Howl"...and so on).The extras, most of which are on the flip side of the disc, are excellent. There's a feature-length commentary by Joe Dante, Dee Wallace, Christopher Stone, and Robert Picardo. Dante has plenty to say and is a very lively commentator, and this is a generally enjoyable audio track. "Unleashing the Beast," a fifty-minute documentary (divided into separate parts, but you can play them all together) goes into great depth on the making of the film. It includes new interviews with Joe Dante, producer Mike Finnel, cinematographer John Hora, writer John Sayles, and actors Dee Wallace-Stone, Robert Picardo, Dick Miller, and Belinda Balaski. Conspicuously missing is effects wizard Rob Bottin, but you can see him on "Making a Monster Movie," an eight-minute featurette that was made in 1981. It also contains vintage interviews with Joe Dante and Patrick Macnee. The extras also include two trailers, production photos, and deleted scenes and outtakes (some of which are very funny). But the really major extras for most people will be the new picture quality and the remixed 5.1 sound. If you're a purist, you can still listen to the original mono mix -- it's here too."The Howling" makes most early 80s horror films, with brute slashers cutting down dumb teenagers at summer camps and slumber parties, look pretty awful. This is fun, funny, scary, smart -- and the effects will still make your jaw drop or maybe your fangs grow."
cloudlio | Sao Paulo - SP - Brazil | 10/05/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"THE HOWLING is a rare original cult-movie, far from the reluctant werewolf pattern. The idea of werewolves instead of a single one hadn't been well developed before, as some legend variations. It has the legendary transformation scene with Rob Bottin's effects, stronger with Pino Donaggio's score (with no CD releasing yet). Rick Baker (Bottin's brother) was consultant and created later the Oscar winner effects of AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, other historical movie.Both movies are linked. Contemporaries, they represented a new era. There's no point discussing which one's the better. "AWIL" is more modern in a way, having non-sense humor, bloody scenes and unbelievable effects. THE HOWLING, earlier, has a classical movie profile, surprising plot and ending. Its characters were named after classical werewolf and horror movies directors, like George Waggner, Sam Newfield, R. William Neill, Erle Kenton, Lew Landers, Terry Fischer, Charlie Barton, Jerry Warren and Jack Molina. There are lots of ironies, like THE WOLF MAN quotations during the film and after credits, and the wolf cartoon in a tense scene. John Carradine, Roger Corman, John Sayles and Forrest J. Ackerman appear, giving additional charm. It's the first time more complex werewolves characters emerge, like Eddie (Robert Picardo, the scariest werewolf on movie history) and Marsha (Elisabeth Brooks, 1951-1997). Joe Dante made this classic with $1,6 million and used his own garage for the rated movies scene.Lots of ideas were borrowed later ("the gift" in WOLF). There were sequels non-related to the original, without the "THE" of the title. Most of them have nothing to do with each other. It's depressing to someone expecting a real sequel to watch HOWLING II.Comparing to THE HOWLING, Brandner's book is different in many aspects, but both are unique. If you liked one, try the other, but don't get anxious finding total equivalence, some points of one aren't in the other and vice-versa.Unfortunately, the movie had no lucky on TV. Its first release on VHS had a blueish image. Later, a brighter version came, yellowish, but allowing explicit sight of the effects and a better screen fitting. I can't tell which one has the original color or if none of them has. The MGM VHS release (August, 2000), after years of "out of print", is a very good presentation - no cuts, Hi-Fi Stereo. The only possible complaints are a few optical ghosts during the title presentation and a beautiful but not original cover. The light gets closer to the brighter version, with impressive color balancing. But I don't know if it's closer to the original.Lucky are those who watched it in the theater, with original color and no lateral reductions. We'll have to hope for a DVD version in a letterbox format, with tone color and light fidelity to the cinema's. A special edition, maybe director's, would be wonderful: interviews, soundtrack, theatrical trailler/teasers and more. Otherwise, loyal horror movies enthusiasts are not having what they deserve."
Wicked Cool Werewolf Movie!
Monty Moonlight | TX | 09/02/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Karen White (E.T.'s Dee Wallace-Stone) is a TV news reporter who's become the object of serial killer Eddie Quist's psychotic obsession. One night, in a daring attempt to catch the killer on live television, Karen comes face to face with the beast inside him. A rookie cop comes to the rescue, and fills Eddie with lead before Karen can be physically harmed, but she's already the victim of psychological damage. Even the famous Dr. Waggner (Patrick Macnee) can't help Karen remember the face she saw that night, which has been locked away deep in her subconscious. Finally, the concerned doctor suggests that Karen and her husband, Bill, spend some time at his "Colony," a retreat in the California woods for some of his patients who need to "unwind." When the two arrive there, however, they find the place is hardly a relaxing setting. Surrounded by strangers who just keep getting stranger, disturbing howls coming from the woods at night, and a sudden rash of animal mutilations, Karen is not having a restful stay. To make matters worse, the Colony's lovely resident nymphomaniac, Marsha, has designs on Karen's frustrated husband, Bill. Meanwhile, back in the city, Karen's friends and co-workers, Chris and Terry, are doing their best to discover the secrets of Eddie Quist, who they find has mysteriously disappeared from the city morgue. Their search leads them on a path of werewolves and the supernatural, and both will have to come to terms with what they believe if they are going to save their friend from the dangers that surround her before it is too late!

Only a few months before the legendary "An American Werewolf In London" was released, Joe Dante gave us the OTHER best werewolf film ever made, the original "The Howling." Rather than the lone, cursed wolf-man figure, The Howling gives us a very different take on the genre, portraying werewolves as pack creatures much like the real-life animals they take their names from. Everything from alpha leaders, to challengers, to mating, hunting, and socializing is shown from the werewolf's point of view, giving us a much more realistically-based depiction. These tall and very impressive looking werewolves are also able to shape-shift whenever they choose, day or not, making them quite the formidable adversaries. But "The Howling" doesn't disregard the traditional Hollywood legends completely. It still takes silver bullets or fire to kill these werewolves, and their condition is still spread as easily as a single bite. The Howling's effects are fantastic, only outshined by "An American Werewolf In London," released that same year, and just as in that film, the material is handled with great love and respect. It's loaded with humor and cute and funny references to wolf and werewolf pop culture, from cartoons and illustrations, to a can of Wolf brand chili. There's no shortage of gore and horror either though, with some genuine scares for any lone, nighttime viewers. The cast is excellent, studded with camp and horror favorites like Dick Miller, Patrick Macnee, Dee Wallace-Stone, John Carradine, Kevin McCarthy, Christopher Stone, Slim Pickens, Dennis Dugan, and Roger Corman, among others. Elisabeth Brooks is breathtaking as the frighteningly seductive temptress, Marsha. Now, for many, the final scene (or rather, the next to final scene) in which we see a VERY different type of werewolf, tends to "ruin" the scary and impressive style of the rest of the film. Don't let this ruin it for you! According to Dee Wallace in a recent interview at, this different look of the final werewolf was done to depict the character in question's unwillingness to submit to the evil transformation. Knowing that makes the whole thing much more acceptable (thanks, Dee)! Overall, "The Howling" adds up to one frighteningly good time that I highly recommend!

6 sequels followed "The Howling," ALL of which have an awful reputation. I recommend checking them out and judging for yourself. They're all very different, and a couple might be rather enjoyable to you, but avoid the no-budget part 7 (New Moon Rising) at all costs."