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The Howling (1981)

R | | Horror | 10 April 1981 (USA)
After a bizarre and near fatal encounter with a serial killer, a television newswoman is sent to a remote mountain resort whose residents may not be what they seem.

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(novel), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Margie Impert ...
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Lew Landers (as Jim McKrell)
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Older Cop
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Storyline

In a red light district, newswoman Karen White is bugged by the police, investigating serial killer Eddie Quist, who has been molesting her through phone calls. After police officers find them in a peep-show cabin and shoot Eddie, Karen becomes emotionally disturbed and loses her memory. Hoping to conquer her inner demons, she heads for the Colony, a secluded retreat where the creepy residents are rather too eager to make her feel at home. There also seems to be a bizarre connection between Eddie Quist and this supposedly safe haven. And when, after nights of being tormented by unearthly cries, Karen ventures into the forest and makes a terrifying discovery. Written by Tim Kretschmann <Tim.K@VirComm.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Beyond anything human. See more »

Genres:

Horror

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

10 April 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Aullidos  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$17,986,000 (USA)
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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The name of the television station was "KDHB". See more »

Goofs

In the gun fight scene with Slim Pickens, he first pumps the action on his rifle and fires a shot. When the camera cuts back to him he fires and reloads a bolt action rifle. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Dr. George Waggner: Repression. Repression is the father of neurosis, of self-hatred. Now, stress results when we fight against our impulses. We've all heard people talk about animal magnetism, the natural man. the noble savage, as if we'd lost something valuable in our long evolution into civilized human beings. Now there's a good reason for this.
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Crazy Credits

A burger being fried on a grill plays out over the closing credits. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Remote Control (1988) See more »

Soundtracks

Howling Chicken
by Rick Fienhage and Joyce Fienhage
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
"The Howling"- A shaky but competent werewolf-thriller. Enthralling despite its faults.
23 January 2017 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The odd thing about Joe Dante's 1981 werewolf-thriller "The Howling" is just how far removed at large from the franchise it spawned the film is. With eight sequels of a decidedly sub-par quality to its name, it'd be easy enough to condemn and dismiss Dante's movie as "just another piece of schlocky 80's horror." But that would be doing it a great disservice. Truth be told, while it's not quite the classic its cult audience may build it up to be, "The Howling" is a consistently competent and entertaining affair. A good horror film despite some admittedly large faults in the production and a few moments of shaky storytelling. And a heck of a lot better than it's increasingly ridiculous sequels might hint at.

Dee Wallace stars as Karen White, an LA news reporter who is being stalked by an infamous serial killer. She agrees to take part in a scheme with the police and act as bait to draw the killer (called "Eddie") out of hiding. While the plan works and Eddie is killed, Karen is emotionally scarred by the event and begins to suffer amnesia and night terrors as a result. Her therapist sends her and her husband Bill out for a getaway to a therapeutic resort so she can get the help she needs to move on. However, things quickly turn sinister. The other residents of the resort are acting strangely, Eddie's body disappears from the morgue, and strange animalistic noises echo in the night... Soon, Karen will be forced to face a dark and dangerous presence in a fight for survival!

Based on the popular novel and adapted by John Sayles and Terrence H. Winkless, the film is quite fascinating and often enthralling with it's plot developments and clever handling of tone and setting. Characters are all well-defined and there's a good sense of pacing that keeps the proceedings moving along. Director Dante, better known for features such as "Gremlins" and "Explorers," does an excellent job, especially considering this is one of his earliest films. He creates a fantastic and oppressive atmosphere but also inserts a very subtle sense of comedy and playfulness with his subtle additions. There's some really nice in-jokes and some fun nods towards the old- fashioned cartoons that he so loves, and his camera-work is just a ton of fun and very quirky. The effects are for the most part also very good, especially when placed in the perspective of its time. The iconic transformation sequence still holds up to this day!

The actors involved all do exceptionally well. Wallace is just a joy as our heroine, who is realistically portrayed in her psychological torment and is endlessly likable and identifiable. Patrick Macnee adds a nice sense of class with his role as Karen's counselor and therapist. Future Adam Sandler collaborator Dennis Dugan does well in a supporting role as a co-worker of Karen's who is on a quest to help investigate the mysterious circumstances that are occurring. The late Elisabeth Brooks is seductive and frightening as a nymphomaniac who is obviously in on the dark goings-on. And the wonderful Robert Picardo wows in a supporting role as the serial- killer Eddie, who is so delightfully slimy and cruel, you can't help but love to hate him.

However, despite all the praise I've sung, I do have to admit that this is a film of quite a few flaws, and I don't think it holds up quite as well as some other films of its era. To start, it's incredibly dated and has sort-of a kitschy quality when it comes to the way some scenes and effects are handled, which creates a bit of a rift for the audience. There's some bizarre directorial choices made that will leave one scratching their head, such as the insertion of an absolutely unnecessary and poorly animated shot in the middle of a key sequence that sticks out like a sore thumb. It's just ludicrous. Certain plot-points and twists are telegraphed from a mile away with no subtlety. And I can't help but feel that the final act (which I won't spoil) is a bit of a patchy mess that doesn't quite add up and has some bizarrely tonal shifts that may turn some viewers off.

Still, those flaws can't change the fact that for the most part, "The Howling" is a resounding success and a very strong film. Solid direction, excellent performances, a fascinating storyline and for the most part top-notch effects make it a memorable and exciting horror experience. While the sequels it produced were often laughable and failed to come close to matching its quality, this original release remains a cult-classic for a reason. And so, I give Joe Dante's "The Howling" a very good 8 out of 10.


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