After suffering a vicious attack, a reporter is sent to a remote mountain retreat that she discovers is populated entirely by werewolves.
The Howling (1981)
Directed by Joe Dante
Written by John Sayles and Terence H. Winkless
Starring Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, Dennis Dugan,
Christopher Stone, Belinda Balaski, Slim Pickens,
John Carradine, Kevin McCarthy
Based on the novel by Gary Brandner
The Howling has, for reasons that escape me, achieved cult classic status. A great many horror fans consider it to be one of the definitive werewolf movies. I, on the other hand, disagree entirely. The Howling is a boring, uninspired trundle that gives werewolf movies a bad name. Considering this came out the same year as the timeless classic An American Werewolf in London, it amazes me that the makeup effects look so dated and goofy. Add that to a poorly written plot and dull characters and you've got a film that barely kept me awake for an hour and a half.
Dee Wallace plays reporter Karen White, who is nearly murdered by a serial killer during a sting operation (why a reporter is involved in a sting with a serial killer is never fully explained). To help her relax, she is sent to a mountain retreat by a mysterious doctor (Patrick Macnee). Soon, she realizes that the retreat is home to a colony of werewolves who are trying to have her for dinner. The thing that bugs me the most about this film is the inconsistency with the werewolves. There's a scene featuring an iconic scene from The Wolf Man, in which Lon Chaney Jr. learns that he will become a werewolf during the full moon. You'd think this would be clever foreshadowing, yet the werewolves all walk around and transform freely in the middle of the day. There's certain rules that must be followed in movies like this, but if you're going to break them, don't mention another film that follows them. It's just lazy writing.
The plot of The Howling is virtually nonexistent. The film isn't scary, nor does it really make any sense. I don't know why it's considered a horror classic. If anything, it felt like a monumental waste of time to me. It's bad for any movie when the audience feels nothing for any of the characters, but I'd argue that it's especially bad for a horror movie. If there's no emotional connection, then none of the deaths really matter to anyone. You might as well be watching paint dry.