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The Howling (1981) Poster

(1981)

Trivia

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Rick Baker was originally doing the special effects for the film, but he left to do An American Werewolf in London (1981), leaving the effects job for this film in the hands of assistant Rob Bottin. Both this film and "American Werewolf" were released the same year and both received praise for their makeup work.
In the scene where Terri calls Chris from Dr. Waggner's office, we see a picture of Lon Chaney Jr. on the wall. Chaney played the Wolf Man in five movies (The Wolf Man (1941), Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), House of Frankenstein (1944), House of Dracula (1945) and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948). He was the only actor that played a Universal monster in the original film and all of its sequels.
There were times during shooting when Robert Picardo was very despondent about the hours he had to spend in makeup. On the Special Edition DVD, he remarked, "One day, after spending six and a half hours in the makeup chair, I was thinking, 'Trained at Yale, two leading roles on Broadway. My first acting role in California, my face gets melted in a low-budget horror movie.' All the crew had to say to that was, 'Bob, next time read the script all the way through first!"'
The final transformation had to be done all in close-up because the film had exceeded its budget by then, and this had to be shot in an Joe Dante's office because they had no money for sets anymore.
Robert Picardo improvised the line "I want to give you a piece of my mind" before pulling out a bullet from his head.
Dee Wallace was very uncomfortable in the porn shop scene. The discomfort on her face can be clearly seen.
Due to their work in this film, Joe Dante and Michael Finnell received the opportunity to make the movie Gremlins (1984).
This film and Howling IV: The Original Nightmare (1988) are both based on the same novel by Gary Brandner. Interestingly, "Howling IV: The Original Nightmare" actually represents the more faithful adaptation of the book than this film does.
This was Dick Miller's favorite of his films.
Filmed in 28 days plus days of reshoots, this film was notable for its special effects, which were state-of-the-art at the time.
Dee Wallace (Karen White) and Christopher Stone (Bill Neill) were engaged in real life when shooting the movie.
Art director Robert A. Burns had previously worked on the sets for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974). In fact, many of the grisly set dressings for this film were hold-overs from "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre"; most notably the corpse in the armchair seen in Walter Paisley's bookstore.
Jack Conrad was originally set to direct and write the film, but troubles with the studio forced him to leave the project. In addition Terence H. Winkless was writing the script at one point, but when his version proved unsatisfactory, he left the production. This eventually fell into the lap of director Joe Dante, who brought aboard John Sayles, with whom he had previously worked for Piranha (1978), to write the screenplay.
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The following characters are named after werewolf movie directors: George Waggner, Roy William Neill, Terence Fisher, Freddie Francis, Erle C. Kenton, Sam Newfield, Charles Barton, Jerry Warren, Lew Landers and Jacinto Molina (an alternate name used by Paul Naschy).
To add to the hidden puns through this film, there is a book placed near a phone during one scene: "Howl" by Allen Ginsberg.
The coroner tells a story about a "case" named Stuart Walker. Stuart Walker was the director of Werewolf of London (1935), the first Hollywood werewolf movie of the sound era.
Annette Haven was offered the role of Marsha Quist, which she turned down because she was opposed to the violent content of the script.
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The picture was released during an early-mid 1980s cycle of werewolf movies. These included Wolfen (1981), The Howling (1981), Teen Wolf (1985), Howling II: ... Your Sister Is a Werewolf (1985), Full Moon High (1981), Teen Wolf Too (1987), The Company of Wolves (1984), Howling III (1987) and An American Werewolf in London (1981).
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In line with other "wolf" puns in this film, the book Bill Neill is reading in bed is "You Can't Go Home Again" by Thomas Wolfe.
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A picture of a wolf attacking a flock of sheep can be seen above Karen White and Bill Neill's bed.
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When Karen White is looking in the shack in the forest, there is a can of "Wolf" brand chili on top of the fridge.
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At one point, Sam Newfield (Slim Pickens) is seen eating from a can of "Wolf" brand chili.
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This movie won the 1981 Saturn Award for Best Horror Film and had been nominated for Saturns also for Best Make-Up and Best Special Effects.
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Gary Brandner, who wrote the novel this film was based on, wrote the screenplay for Howling II: ... Your Sister Is a Werewolf (1985) - the only installment in "The Howling" film series in which he was screenwriter.
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In one scene, Erle (John Carradine) mentions UFOs and cattle mutilation. Around the time he wrote the screenplay for "The Howling", John Sayles was also working on a script for Steven Spielberg known as "Night Skies", which involved UFOs and cattle mutilation. The project was dropped, however, when Spielberg chose to make "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial" instead.
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This horror movie is ranked at the No. #81 spot on Bravo's "100 Scariest Movie Moments".
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The late Elisabeth Brooks (Marsha Quist) received an "introducing" credit.
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Director Joe Dante and screenwriter John Sayles had previously collaborated about three years before on Piranha (1978) in those capacities with Sayles taking a role in the director's later movie Matinee (1993).
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This took about four years from the time Gary Brandner's novel was published in 1977 and to when this film was made.
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The nickname of R. William Neill (Christopher Stone) was "Bill".
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The name of the television station was "KDHB".
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Karen White is a newscaster. When she first arrives at the colony, she is talking to a character played by James Murtaugh who played a newscaster in Blue Thunder (1983).
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Cameo 

Roger Corman: Uncredited, the famed B-movie producer, who had mentored the film's director Joe Dante, as a man waiting to use a phone box after Karen White (Dee Wallace). When Corman checks the pay-phone for change, this is an in-joke reference to the producer's legendary penny-pinching.
Forrest J. Ackerman: Uncredited, as a bookstore customer in the book shop carrying a copy of his magazine "Famous Monsters of Filmland".
John Sayles: Uncredited, the film's co-screenwriter as a morgue attendant.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Chris Halloran (Dennis Dugan) is watching the Looney Toons episode "Pigs in a Polka" (1943) with the Big Bad Wolf while talking to Terri Fisher (Belinda Balaski).
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Besides the many 'wolf' sight gags, character names and in-joke references, the book Bill is reading in bed after being bitten is by author Thomas Wolfe, as mentioned by another trivia entry. The title of the book "You Can Never Go Home Again" is also an in-joke, referencing the fact that now that Bill is also a werewolf and forever changed, he too "can never go home again", making this a double in-joke.
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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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