Some things are best not shown in close-up. The werewolf
transformations in The Howling may have been excellent for their time, but they still produce a
smile on my face. Too much bulging facial manipulation. I like the hair by hair approach of
American Werewolf in London myself. In fact, Lon Chaney, Jr.'s black and white time lapse
transformations were a lot eerier to behold. At least The Howling includes a television snippet of
Maria Ouspenskaya's warning to all watchers of werewolf movies "He who is bitten by a werewolf and
survives, he himself becomes a werewolf." Procreation the Ouspenskaya way.
|A Rick baker facial. ©MGM
TV Newscasters are great heroines in horror flicks. Karen White gets
herself involved with a serial killer story and the fall-out from her up close and personal
involvement is a quiet trip to the country to calm her nerves. The Colony, a retreat run by
Dr. George Waggner, seems like a bizarre choice to clean the heebie-jeebies out. Every other
resident seems to be suffering from chronic horror movie syndrome. Her husband gets a bit too close
to one one hungry nymphomaniac, and Karen takes too many calming walks in the spooky woods.
My advice is never trust anyone named "Quist."
Director Joe Dante is truly a horror aficionado. He even named one of his
main characters Dr. George Waggner after the director of the familiar 1941 version of The Wolf Man.. Dante uses point of view camera work that has long since
become cliché de rigor for every would-be horror director. At least Dante makes sure that The
Howling retains a sense of hoot.
Dee Wallace can't make Karen White very convincing, but at least she can cringe
with the best of the horror actresses. She also manages to look relatively unconcerned on those
long walks in the woods. Patrick McNee is pretty bland as Waggner. The chewing scenery award goes
to Elisabeth Brooks as Marsha Quist.
The anamorphic transfer is pretty decent. Grain is relatively tight. Perhaps
there could have been a bit more snap to the picture and black levels certainly could have been
deeper. Considering all the dark scenes, The Howling shadows are revealed effectively.
Images are fairly sharp. Color is slightly muddy. Dolby
Digital 2 channel mono is clear with creaky effects sounds amplified.
John Wayne invests Ethan Edwards with enormous dignity and
determination. A classic western from director John Ford. Mesmerizingly beautiful.
With the introduction of the Columbia Super Bit collection it looks
like a new wave of repackaging marketing might be just around the corner.New Edition: Bit by Bit
Selections from the Feature Archive
include articles on Akira Kurosawa, Frank
Darabont, Blonde Bimbos, Hollywood Street Gangs, or Vietnam: The
Hollywood Pariah, and many more....
Click on the image of The Heistmasters for an interesting feature on the tough guys that
pull off the big jobs.