Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Even Werewolves Need Therapy, or Thoughts on The Howling

 1981 was a great year for the lycanthropic sympathetic, with the release of three werewolf movies, AnAmerican Werewolf in London, Wolfen and Joe Dante’s The Howling.  80’s Scream Queen Dee Wallace plays TV news reporter Karen White, investigating a serial killer who turns out to be a werewolf.  Although the movie was released in 1981, it has a gritty 70’s vibe, especially with the first transformation at an adult video store.
The bulk of the movie takes place at a mysterious seaside retreat where all the guests seem to enjoy the barbecues a bit more than normal and you get woken up by mysterious howls in the night.  Karen participates in group therapy sessions to get over the trauma of that first werewolf encounter, which she’s conveniently blocked from her memory.  What she doesn’t realize is that everyone at that retreat is a werewolf, including the therapist, played by the always debonair Patrick Macnee.  
The Howling is a hard R with the infamous werewolf sex scene in the woods (they start off as people, if that helps), and the ending remains terrifyingly tragic and surprisingly accurate, even after 35 years.  The impressive werewolf transformations were done by Rob Botin, who went on to work on my favorite remake, The Thing (1982), Robocop (1987), Mimic (1997), and Fight Club (1999).
Director Joe Dante is most famous for Gremlins (1984), which is probably due for a remake.   Veteran scene chewer Slim Pickens shows up as the county sheriff, you may remember him from a little movie called Dr. Strangelove (1964), or another obscure film called Blazing Saddles (1974), along with Hollywood royalty John Carradine (David’s father) and a very young, almost unrecognizable Robert Picardo (the Emergency Medical Holograph from Star Trek Voyager) as the werewolf serial killer Eddie Quist.  Also look out for national treasure Dick Miller as a bookstore owner; check out his IMDb, which lists 177 credits going back to 1955.  And be sure to spot Forrest Ackerman browsing at that bookstore, and if you don’t know who Forrest Ackerman is, I don’t know if we can still be friends.


my first novel? thanks for asking:) I wrote a 4 book supernatural martial arts series concerning the ongoing feud between a group of kung-fu killer witches in san francsico’s chinatown.