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Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Howling Review

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For some reason, I have been on a werewolf watching kick as of late. Last night I watched one of the best lycan movies ever, The Howling.
Directed by Joe Dante of Gremlins fame, The Howling follows Karen White (Dee Wallace-Stone) who is a Los Angeles television news anchor as she is being stalked by a serial murderer named Eddie Quist (Robert Picardo). In cooperation with the police, she takes part in a scheme to capture Eddie by agreeing to meet him in a sleazy porno theater. Eddie forces Karen to watch a video of a young woman being raped, and when Karen turns around to see Eddie she screams. The police enter and shoot Eddie, and although Karen is safe, she suffers amnesia. Her therapist, Dr. George Waggner (Patrick Macnee), decides to send her and her husband, Bill Neill (Christopher Stone), to "The Colony", a secluded resort in the countryside where he sends patients for treatment. Too bad The Colony's patients all carry a secret... I found this to be one of Dee Wallace's best films, along with Cujo, and her on screen chemistry with Christopher Stone was very real. I am sure that can be partially contributed to the fact that they were married around the time of filming The Howling. As with most werewolf films, the transformations are one of the main things used to draw in the viewer. Rick Baker was originally attached to the film but left to work on An American Werewolf In London, and he gave us the best transformation ever seen. On The Howling, the FX were handed over to a young man by the name of Rob Bottin. Bottin's most celebrated effect was the on-screen transformation of Eddie Quist, which involved air bladders under latex facial applications to give the illusion of transformation. Even though it was creepy and filmed very well, it couldn't stand up to the job Baker would do on AWIL. The story for The Howling is the true strength here. Taken from a novel by Gary Brandner of the same name, the film actually deviates a lot. One of the biggest changes was that in the book, Karyn is raped by a man in her apartment and ends up having a miscarriage, thus giving her a nervous breakdown. In the movie, she is saved by the police before she is attacked by a werewolf in an adult bookstore. I think the scenario in the novel was much more effective for giving someone a nervous breakdown. This film is the best in the series, with only part 3 being somewhat entertaining. If you have never seen The Howling, give it a try. The ending has always been memorable to me and the film took itself serious.