As a child of the slasher generation, I watched very few classic monster movies growing up. When I did watch them, I was much more a Dracula girl than Wolfman fan. This was probably because I learned shortly after the first time I heard “The Three Little Pigs” that most stories depict wolves in a negative light and being a fan of wolves, I was having none of that.
The Howling was not my first werewolf movie, but after all the high quality, gruesome special effects of the 20th and 21st century, it was a let down watching this traditional scary movie. Surprisingly, the let down didn’t come from its lack of modern technology, though. The Howling has one of the best on-screen werewolf transformation that I’ve ever seen (if albeit too slow—why Dee Wallace and Dennis Dugan’s characters wait the nearly three minute transformation before they fight back is beyond me), but while they spent all their time producing the best special effects of the 1980s, they must have shirked their duties on the story. It was so boring! I know back in its day it wasn’t as predictable as it is now, but even when I know something scary is coming in a modern movie, I’ll still jump. There was no jumping during this viewing. And I watched it with the lights off.
Environmentally speaking—though, this would technically be more human than natural—werewolves were hunted to near extinction in the 1500s and 1600s. Yup, just like witches, they were “real,” and they were prosecuted. In most cases, though, they were just humans who had committed terrible murders. The few “werewolves” who are still alive today are people who suffer from Clinical Lycanthropy—a disease of the brain that makes a person believe they are transforming into a wolf. Only 13 cases have been officially been recorded since 1850.
Whether werewolves are real or not, I sure hope they’re more exciting than the beasts of The Howling. They may have looked cool, but they were pretty dumb contacting a news reporter and bring her and her husband to their secret lair. There are much easier ways to catch your prey, guys, and there are much better werewolf movies out there.
8/10 for Old Movie History Buffs
2/10 for anyone born after 1991
Featured photo courtesy of AVCO Embassy Pictures.