Fright Fest Review #16: The Howling (1981)

Sure, she's cute, but she's a real bitch when it's that time of the month.
Sure, she’s cute, but she’s a real bitch when it’s that time of the month.

Subgenre:  Werewolf

Summary:  After a traumatizing encounter with a serial killer, a newswoman visits a rural retreat plagued by werewolves.

Review:  The Howling opens with T.V. reporter Karen White aiding the police in an attempt to catch a serial killer who’s obsessed with her.  After nearly getting killed in the sting operation, she takes a break from her job to visit a rural retreat recommended by her therapist.  The Colony, as it’s called, seems pleasant enough at first, but soon after Karen arrives she can’t shake the feeling that someone – or something – is stalking her.

As is the case with most good werewolf movies, The Howling shows restraint in showing these creatures.  All we get are glimpses of fur and sharp fangs until the third act, which boasts one of the best werewolf transformation sequences I’ve ever seen (though An American Werewolf in London’s remains king).

Though ostensibly a horror movie, The Howling succeeds as a mystery as well.  The turns its story takes aren’t particularly revelatory, but they’re not completely predictable either.  For the majority of the movie, the plot is efficient-if-unremarkable; that is, until the ending.  The Howling’s final scene is creepy, funny, and sad all at the same time, and will stay with you long after the credits roll.

The Verdict:  With its impressive effects and playful sense of humor, The Howling is a must for any werewolf fan.  I give it seven-and-a-half lusty lycanthropes out of ten.

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