Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Good Barks: The Howling

Before you get mad, I do like this movie!  I'm not reviewing the other classic, 1980 Werewolf film to rip it apart like some random camper.  No, I'm a Completionist and need to give this film its due in order to wrap up The Howling franchise.  Well, at least until they make another film...which I hope they don't.  I suppose you could argue that the Teen Wolf show is an extension of this franchise, but I'm not touching that show with a ten-foot pole.  If you don't know, The Howling is a tale of a woman who goes to a Commune to get over a stressful event, only to find a worse place to be.  It's a pretty simple plot, but there's enough layer to it- plus a mixed narrative- to keep the film interesting throughout.  Rather than do a full-review, this will be like my reviews of Ringu and Children of the Corn.  It will be more of a bullet-point review with highlights of interesting/strange moments.  To find out more that you may not have known about this film classic, read on...
* The introductory scene sets up the nightmare that haunts our heroine- an actress who has appeared in many crap films since.  Speaking of crappy films, Roger Corman shows up as a guy waiting to use the Phone Booth.
* Slim 'I was in Blazing Saddles' Pickens is here playing the Sheriff.  While that's interesting enough, wait to you see his 'replacement' in Howling IV.
* This one is a double, actually.  First, Dick Miller is playing 'Walter Paisley,' who now runs an Occult Book Store.  Too bad he's going to be chased by those Gremlins, only to become a Janitor and die in Chopping Mall.

Second, Forrest J. Ackerman is here- finally in a good movie!- making sure to show off his magazine.  Nice and random, guys!
* I love how the Werewolves turn into cartoons briefly.  I know it's just a budgetary thing, but it adds style IMHO.
* If you're watching for it, the film is chock full of nods to Wolves, wolf puns and Werewolf films.  Hell, half of the people in the Commune are named after Directors of Werewolf films!
* In my favorite shot of the film, the killer Werewolf reveals himself in full for the first time by casually walking in and taking a file away from the lady Reporter.  No silly jump scare or over-Edited crap.  He's just like 'I'll be taking this...'
* How do you know that you're watching a film made in the '70s or at the tail end of it?  When I have to censor out more than just boobs.  It's kind of a shame to cover these guys in smiley faces too...
 * I like to think of these as the Peter Gabriel Werewolves, since they're randomly claymation.  I get it- they probably had only one- maybe two- suit to work with.

Not a bad shot, but a bit odd for me.
 * For all of Joe Dante's more-comedic work, you have to give him credit for drama.  Look at that tear, people!  The End.
No complaints here.  I have very little bad things to say about the movie.  There are odd moments and some effects- like the claymation- that don't hold up as well.  There are very little films made over thirty years ago that don't have stuff like that, unless their Director keeps redoing their effects.  Screw you, Lucas.  Anyhow, this movie's only real fault is that it inspired so many crap sequels.  Obviously, I can't really blame them for that.  The other thing is that it does change key events from the novel.  Gary Bradner has been odd about what he allows and doesn't with his stories.  He sold the rights to Howling III...only to have it become about Were-supials and the spirit of Tasmanian Tigers.  If you want to see a closer adaptation to his original work, check out tomorrow's review.  If you want to check out the best version, watch this movie.  Do you need more of an excuse?  Okay, there's this Carradine Face...
Next up, the good fun ends with the fourth film...which is essentially a Remake.  Yes, it is a book...but you can move on.  Stay tuned...

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