Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Flashback: The Howling

The Howling 1981
Director: Joe Dante
Writer: John Sayles
Starring Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, Dennis Dugan, Christopher Stone, Belinda Balaski, Kevin McCarthy, John Carradine, Slim Pickens, Elizabeth Brooks, Robert Picardo and Noble Willingham
There are many werewolf films, but for me one stands far above the rest as my all time favorite werewolf film and that is The Howling. It is a well crafted and scary film and it has some great acting performances. The transformation scenes are phenomenal and really freak you the hell out. And unlike American Werewolf in London, it does not really rely on the humor as much as that film does. All the humor does is accentuate the film. This is a film that has a claustrophobic feel at times and that is mainly due to the location the story takes place in. This is a film that gets better with repeated viewings and has some of the best looking werewolves in any werewolf film.
The plot basics are this, there is a serial killer running loose in New York and the only person who is in contact with him is news reporter Karen White (Wallace) and she helps the police corral and arrest him, but after her ordeal she needs some rest and rehabilitation. Her psychiatrist (Macnee) recommends a secluded forest area called The Colony. She goes there and at first it seems idyllic, but she hears strange sounds at night and soon her husband (Stone) begins to act strangely and she soon discovers the horrifying secret of The Colony and along with her friend (Dugan) tries to escape it.
This is a superb film. The direction by Dante is both humorous and eerie. A perfect example of this is the opening scene in the peep show. He really conveys the filthiness and depravity of the scene and makes it all the more horrifying when Eddie shows up. The script by Sayles has deft humorous touches that really ease the viewer during the tense parts of the film. I especially liked the scene in the book store that was very amusing and relieved the tension a bit. He really amps up the terror when needed though, like when Belinda Balaski is attacked by the werewolf in the office, that is truly a scary sequence. The cast is excellent. Wallace gives her best performance in this film. She is strong when called for and really shows the gamut of emotions needed for a role like this. Macnee is great as well, he plays the kindly doctor well until it is revealed who he really is and it pays off well. Brooks also brings a sensuous allure to her role and is very mesmerizing to watch. The SFX and effects by Rob Bottin are amazing and he gives us one of the best transformation scenes seen in any werewolf film. The score by Pino Donaggio really sets the mood for the film too and keeps you on the edge of your seat. This is one of the finest werewolf films and well worth digging up.
This one gets 5 out of 5

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