News anchorwoman Karen White (Wallace) hopes to get the scoop
of a lifetime when Eddie Quist (Picardo), a wanted serial killer, agrees
to meet her. When the meeting goes disastrously wrong and Karen is almost
killed by the maniac, she becomes completely traumatised by the incident.
Her therapist Dr. George Waggner (Macnee) suggests that she should stay
at his retreat on the coast to recover but when Karen gets there she finds
that her fellow patients have a secret that links them to the serial killer
she is trying to forget.
In the 1980s horror in Hollywood went through a bit of a renaissance
and it was low budget fright fests that were leading the way. Franchises
were born and horror would never be the same.
Along with all the masked serial killers, vampires and Things
from outer space, the werewolf came back hungry for its piece of flesh.
Alongside 'An American Werewolf in London', The Howling reinvented the legend
of the lycanthrope and introduced the movie going public to amazingly realistic
The work Rick Baker and Rob Bottin pioneered for American
Werewolf… and The Howling set the standard and has still to be bettered,
even with all the advances in special effects and computer generated imagery.
These transformations are realistic and terrifying, using pioneering makeup
techniques to transform man into wolf. We watch, in horror, as the wolf
comes from within the man to consume his humanity and release the beast.
Before our eyes we see claws appear from the ends of fingers, fangs appear
in rapidly protruding snouts and hair covers the victim's body in graphic
and horrific detail. The transformation of Eddie Quist is brutal and awe-inspiring
as the werewolf engulfs Robert Picardo. Rob Bottin make up effects are equally,
if not better than the work that Rick Baker did for American Werewolf and
he deserves just as many plaudits.
These amazing visual effects are backed up by performances
that are better than you'd equate with a movie with such a limited budget.
This was the role that got Dee Wallace noticed and kick-started career (she
got the part in E.T. because of this movie). As Karen White she plays the
traumatised survivor of Eddie Quist with a realistic gusto and you never
question her fear or terror at what she is experiencing. Robert Picardo
is exceptional as the twisted Eddie Quist. This is a character actor who,
after this performance, became a stalwart for every Joe Dante film playing
a host of loveable and memorable characters in his films. He also played
one of the best characters to grace the modern Star Trek Universe, the Doctor
in Voyager. So it is hard to believe that his breakout role was one of a
crazed psychopath who becomes a werewolf. Patrick Macnee is as good as ever
in a role that he could play in his sleep but there is a twist to his character.
The supporting cast is also good with another Joe Dante stalwart Dick Miller
injecting a bit of comedy into the piece.
When you take into account the very limited budget and the
technology available in 1981, The Howling is an achievement. Conveying a
real sense of terror, especially in the transformation scene, that berates
its B-Movie looks and slightly limited storyline, the movie is easily more
memorable than many a modern Hollywood horror fright flick.
Presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1 with Dolby Digital
5.1 surround sound, this digitally remastered transfer is very good. Bearing
in mind that the movie was made on a very low budget in 1981, the picture
quality is extremely good. The same can be said about the sound, with the
remastered 5.1 mix making the transformation all the more powerful.
Documentary: Welcome to Werewolfland (49.10 mins)
Director Joe Dante, director of photography John Hora, producer Michael
Finnell and stars Dee Wallace, Belinda Balaski, Robert Picardo and Dick
Miller reminisce about shooting The Howling. With behind the scenes footage
from the twenty-eight day 1981 shoot, the documentary charts the start of
many of the principles involvement in film and the first big break in all
of their careers. We find out how the small budget of $1.5 million dictated
the changes in werewolf lore from those established in the classic Wolfman
series but lead to originality in the screenplay. Robert Picardo discusses
the lengthy makeup process he had to go through to release the wolf within.
Director Joe Dante talks about his love of horror and reveals the in jokes
and references that riddle the film. This is a very good documentary that
allows the filmmakers and stars to hark back to the beginning of their careers
and how they changed the Hollywood horror genre forever.
Deleted scenes (10.14 mins)
These sixteen deleted scenes show more of the interaction within the colony
and reveal more about Karen White's trauma. Without a commentary track or
an introduction however we don't know why these scenes were removed from
the final print.
Outtakes (12.22 mins)
A montage of gaffs and goofs as the cast reveals problems with the werewolf
teeth, makeup effects and Dick Miller constantly getting his lines wrong.
Photo Gallery A collection of promo and behind the scenes from The Howling
Theatrical Trailer (1.25 mins)
The full trailer used to promote the film on its release in 1981
Teaser Trailer (0.23 mins)
The original 1981 teaser trailer that announced the movie to cinemagoers
The presentation of the movie and the documentary are first
rate making this a good special edition re-release of an 80s horror classic.
The omission of the commentary track that accompanied the US release is
a strange decision however as this would have made the package even better.
Fans of the movie will be disappointed with this but it should not but them
off seeing this classic horror remastered on DVD for the first time.
The Usher Home
| Hush, Hush... | The
Big Story | The Usher Speaks
@ Home | Coming Soon | Links
| Contact the Usher