Newest Review: ... the sound of wild coyotes? Or, is it something else.....and, how come Eddie Quist is one of Dr. Waggner's guests at The Colony, along w... more
The Howling (DVD)
Member Name: GentleGenius
The Howling (DVD)
Advantages: The beginning is good
Disadvantages: The remainder is awful
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 85 mins
DIRECTOR: Joe Dante
PRODUCERS: Jack Conrad & Michael Finnell
SCREENPLAY: John Sayles & Terence Winkless
Dee Wallace as Karen White
Christopher Stone as Bill Neill
Robert Picardo as Eddie Quist
Elisabeth Brooks as Marsha Quist
Belinda Balaski as Terri Fisher
Dennis Dugan as Chris Halloran
Patrick MacNee as Dr. Waggner
FILM ONLY REVIEW
Karen White is an investigative journalist and TV news reporter. Whilst being stalked by someone she believes is a serial killer who has been terrorising the community, Karen agrees to set herself up as bait so the police can catch the killer.
After following him into a sleazy porn parlour, Karen is forced by the killer, Eddie Quist, to watch a disturbing movie of sexual torture. After her screams draw the attention of the detectives who have been monitoring the situation, a scared and shocked Karen is taken home after a police marksman shoots Eddie.
Although Karen can remember entering the porn theatre, everything which happened afterwards is a blank in her mind, apart from vague flashbacks she experiences in dreams - yet, these flashbacks are too brief for her to hold onto. Traumatised, she begins to push her husband Bill away from her.
Karen is undergoing therapy with Dr. Waggner, who suggests that she and her husband Bill spend some time at his country retreat known as The Colony, in order to recuperate and relax.
Once at the The Colony, Kate and Bill encounter some of Dr. Waggner's other guest patients, who for the most part are decidedly odd.
Strange things then start to happen, and is the howling at night merely the sound of wild coyotes? Or, is it something else.....and, how come Eddie Quist is one of Dr. Waggner's guests at The Colony, along with Marsha, his vampish, sex-hungry sister?
Meanwhile, Karen's friend Terri Fisher senses something could be wrong after a strange telephone conversation the two women had. Terri engages the help of Chris Halloran, her boyfriend, and they both go on a quest to try and find out what is happening.
To begin with a quick, coincidental aside....I am typing this as a full moon is peeping through the tree branches....an owl is hooting in the distance, and right outside my living-room window, a fox yells a drawn-out, high-pitched baying sound to his or her mate.
The Howling is a film which I was convinced I'd seen before, but my recent viewing showed me I was obviously thinking of something else.
The proceedings get off to quite a good start, with the scene nicely set as Karen allows herself to be used as a police decoy in order to assist with the capture of serial killer Eddie Quist. The scenes set inside the porn parlour are well done and moderately disturbing, plus the aftermath as Karen and her husband try to settle back into normal life when the dust has settled, are put across convincingly.
Then, all is about to go haywire when Karen and Bill arrive at Dr. Waggner's therapeutical country retreat, The Colony. At first, The Colony seems like quite an unusual and interesting place, as there are some pretty strange characters present....but, it is at this point in the film where it all falls apart for me.
The acting by the whole cast is merely average....not all that good yet not too bad, but I found large swathes of the dialogue left a lot to be desired. It doesn't help when mediocre actors meet a less than mediocre screenplay, and I found the combination of the two in this instance yielded a distinctly lacklustre film from the conversational aspect.
Quite a few special effects are used and I don't doubt they were fairly good for 1981, but as far as filming techniques are concerned, The Howling in my opinion has to humble itself against An American Werewolf In London which was released the same year. Also, An American Werewolf In London is full of surprises, whereas The Howling is so desperately predictable from the point where Karen and Bill arrive at The Colony, that it turns out to be no more than just another run-of-the-mill werewolf film.
As the whole shebang wore on once the good bits were done and dusted, I found myself becoming increasingly bored with The Howling. I was able to anticipate every single thing which was about to happen, which of course mars the enjoyment factor of any film. Although this is a pretty short movie, I found that it really dragged, especially from just after the halfway point onwards. Everything was as expected, with little or no fear factor, no chills down the spine, no wondering if that really is the wind rattling against the window outside or something worse, no jumping out of my skin, no parts where I felt I had to look away from the screen for a moment....so, aside from the beginning, what for me was good about The Howling? Answer = nothing!
I do have the feeling that some minor parts of The Howling are possibly intended to be tinged with a vague sort of humour, but these little slivers didn't touch my funny bone at all. For most of my viewing time, my mind kept drifting onto An American Werewolf In London, making possibly unfair comparisons, preferring it and wishing I was watching it instead of The Howling. I appreciate that each film mood-wise is very different to the other, but there are similar aspects which in The Howling are little short of sub-standard in comparison.
The Howling was adapted from a novel, and I have no idea how closely it sticks to the original storyline, but whether it does or doesn't, I was left feeling unfulfilled, bored and firmly deciding that I never want to see it again.
I understand that there have been several sequels to The Howling over the years, none of which I have seen - nor do I intend to - and I just hope that at least one of them along the way has resulted in some kind of improvement. I can see within the first in the run of The Howling movies that there is capacity to expand and continue the storyline, but I just wonder if to do so has been worth it.
The Howling may appeal to people who have a morbid fascination with werewolves, but I feel that there are other, far better examples of this section of the horror genre which can be enjoyed.
.....20 minutes later....the fox is still baying and the full moon is still bright through the trees, having moved across the sky a little...but the owl appears to have shut up shop for the night.
At the time of writing, The Howling can be purchased on Amazon as follows:-
New: from £3.22 to £20.73
Used: only one copy currently available @ £7.64
A delivery charge of £1.26 should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
Summary: In my humble opinion, one to not bother with