"The Howling (1981/Blu-ray/Shout! Factory)" Review

Review: When I was a child and seen The Wolfman for the first time I became curious in the whole werewolf legend and it caused me to see many more werewolf films throughout my life. For the most part that sub-genre does have some good films to offer. The Howling is one of those in the good catagory, but sadly I have not watched this film for a few years. One good thing about that is that it seemed like the first time watching it for myself. The only things I could remember from it was the amazing special effects that they had for the werewolves, especially their transformations. Lets get on with the autopsy!

The man behind the camera for The Howling is none other than Joe Dante who also brought us Gremlins and most recently The Hole. He has had a very good track record when it comes to making films and The Howling is definitely one of the best films he has done. Like his other films there is some humor added in even if it's like this film and is more subtle. One example I can give is when Karen White (Dee Wallace) and her friend are talking to the local sheriff and the friend makes a comment about that she sleeps like the dead and then they cut to a morgue where a body is getting moved to a table. It is subtle in ways, but very good dark humor.
This film works on so many levels just like most of Joe Dante's films. First there is an awesome cast that is comprised of Dee Wallace, Dennis Dugan, Robert Picardo, Kevin McCarthy, Dick Miller, and John Carradine to name a few. I also spotted a cameo early in the film from legendary producer Roger Corman. Dee Wallace does great as Karen White who is a news anchor who goes through a terrifying encounter with a killer that leaves her mentally scarred. She goes on a leave from work to get herself back to normal, but she gets more than she ever expected. Now my favorite character of them all is Walter Paisley (Dick Miller) who is the local occult bookstore owner, he plays a smaller role but sticks out like every role Dick Miller does. The rest of the cast memebers are great as well, but I don't want to blab on forever talking about them.
The film also has a great atmosphere and an increasing sense of doom. I especially like the scenes in the woods where you get nothing but darkness, fog, and moonlight beaming through the trees. In those scenes it throws me back to the original Wolfman which adds to the atmosphere so much. I really think that Joe Dante did that intentionally due to him being such a fan of Universal Monsters. Like you find with some of his films there is a twist that I wasn't really expecting at the end of the film. Now when it comes to the special effects they of course are done the old school way and they look awesome. Now I wouldn't say they look better than the ones from An American Werewolf In London, but they still look great nonetheless. Overall this was an excellent werewolf film that all horror fans need to checkout!
The presentation of this release looks fantastic, the film grain is intact and the colors bold. I was able to compare it to the previous DVD release by MGM and I can say that this is worth the upgrade. You also get a good amount of special features like you usually get from Shout! Factory releases. Overall this is a great release and worth every penny spent on it!

-Daniel "Damnation" Lee

Director: Joe Dante
Genre: Horror
Blu-ray Release Year: 2013
Theatrical Release Year: 1981
Time Length: 91 mins.
Company: Scream Factory (Shout! Factory)