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With: Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, Dennis Dugan, Christopher Stone, Belinda Balaski, Kevin McCarthy, John Carradine, Slim Pickens, Elisabeth Brooks, Robert Picardo, Margie Impert, Noble Willingham, James Murtaugh, Jim McKrell, Kenneth Tobey, Don McLeod, Dick Miller, Steve Nevil, Herbie Braha, Joe Bratcher, Bill Sorrells, Meshach Taylor, Ivan Saric, Sarina C. Grant, Chico Martinez, Daniel Nunez, Michael O'Dwyer, Wendell Wright, Forrest J. Ackerman, Roger Corman, John Sayles
Written by: John Sayles, Terence H. Winkless, based on a novel by Gary Brandner
Directed by: Joe Dante
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 91
Date: 01/20/1981

The Howling (1981)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Talbot Scouting

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This post-modern werewolf movie may not the greatest werewolf movie ever made, but director Joe Dante is a rabid horror fan and pays tribute at every opportunity to any number of well-known and obscure classics. His enthusiasm can be infectious. After a brutal experience with a stalker/serial killer, a woman (Dee Wallace) is sent to recuperate at a "colony," where her husband is bit by a sexy female werewolf (Elisabeth Brooks).

Slim Pickens plays drawling sheriff Sam Newfield. Dante regulars Kevin McCarthy, Belinda Balaski, and Robert Picardo are here, and look for a great Dick Miller playing "Walter Paisley" once again (his A Bucket of Blood character in name only), as a cynical occult bookshop owner, and John Carradine as a hilariously sulky old man. Roger Corman, Forrest J. Ackerman, and screenwriter John Sayles, among others, appear in cameos. The practical FX by Rob Bottin, who was originally Rick Baker's assistant, are still highly effective. Pino Donaggio contributes an appropriately over-the-top score.

Fans will finally be happy with MGM/UA's 2003 DVD version, including a commentary track, a making-of doc, outtakes, and lots more. It was released a few months before John Landis' similarly tongue-in-cheek An American Werewolf in London, though the latter film was the bigger hit. In 2013, Shout! Factory released an excellent collector's edition Blu-ray, with many of the same extras.

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