Before a time like today, where werewolves have big hearts, six packs, and protected us from those pesky depressing vampires, there was a time when werewolves were actually scary. And instead of patchy CGI, they used real special effects to create monstrous creatures. A great example of this is the first "The Howling". A wonderful piece of werewolf history that along with "An American Werewolf In London" set a standard for the genre.
"The Howling" has our good lady Dee Wallace as a reporter whom after being attacked by a serial killer with animal like tendencies, is sent to a rehab colony where the locals are a bit more rural than one would hope for. Her and her husband and two friends end up in the middle of wolf country and end up at the claws end of the community.
"The Howling" is one of those films that retains a lot of its relevance even after a quarter of a decade later. It's largest issue is that this film almost feels too big to be only an hour and a half. They really only touch on many of the great aspects of this film as the story flies by. On the surface its very much an 80s Horror film, including but not limited to having some pretty gooey violence and transformations and at least one somewhat out of the blue sex scene, but many of its underlying moments about humanity losing touch with nature and its animal instincts ring as true today as they did then. The character work and general concept of the film work out insanely well.
As I said though, some of its faults tend to come out of the fact that the story is much bigger than its time and budget. Character arcs sometimes feel rushed (particularly with the friends and locals) and some of the concepts are just quickly brushed over. The scene towards the end where they discuss the issue of why werewolves should 'fit into' society is a great scene but its far too short and quickly ran over. I wish that they could have gone into greater detail at times about the wolves and the characters.
"The Howling" does stand the test of time relatively well though and with its deep end story and pretty awesome design, I will always have a place for this film in my collection. It's a great Horror film, a great werewolf piece, and just a solid film.
Written By Matt Reifschneider