31 Horror Movies I Own #12: The Howling
“I’m gonna give you a piece of my mind….”
A couple of years before he exploded my 80s kid brain with fuzzy adorable Gizmo and his nemesis, Spike, in Gremlins, Joe Dante directed what I still think is one of the finest werewolf movies ever made: The Howling.
In the most bone-headed move ever, a television station sends their attractive star female reporter Karen (Dee Wallace, at the time with Stone accompanying her name) undercover to a sleazy porn theater to entrap Eddie Quinn, whom they suspect of raping and murdering several women. Um. What.
In the theater, Karen is attacked by Eddie, who, after he’s shot, pulls a piece of his brain out of the bullet hole in his head and utters the quote I’ve noted above. BRILLIANT. Anyway, it traumatizes Karen enough that she gets amnesia.
At her therapist’s suggestion, she’s is sent to recover at “The Colony” a hippy-dippy commune-style recovery center located in the middle of nowhere, and filled with helpful patients…or are they?
Witchy over-the-top sexpot Marsha wastes no time hooking up with Karen’s frustrated husband Bill, sparking a chain of events that lead the initially naive Karen to find out the truth: The Colony is full of werewolves who want her to join them (one of us! one of us!) and the supposedly dead Eddie is among the group and hell-bent on claiming her for his own.
The Howling is known for its then state-of-the-art special F/X, and even now, the werewolf transformations (save one at the end, wherein the “good” person turns into a fuzzy, teddy-bear cute werewolf) are impressive, being both fascinating and GROSS.
The wolves are ruthless, making the murders that take place particularly gruesome, and the final scene finishes off the movie perfectly with a clever sense of humor. Despite its cheese, The Howling is, was, and always will be my go-to werewolf flick.
Even though I’ve seen all the sequels, none of them made enough impact on me to remember a single plot detail—except 1991’s direct-to-video Howling VI: The Freaks—because I have a weird fascination with traveling carnivals on film, so apparently I saw that one more than a few times. Still, none of them standout like the first.