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Journalist Karen (Dee Wallace) has a run-in with serialkiller Eddie
(Robert Picardo) who idolizes her that is just too close for comfort. And
even though he is killed before he can do her any harm, Karen just can't
get over her experience - so she and her boyfriend Bill (Christopher
Stone) make a visit to the Colony, a woodland hideaway retreat run
by psychiatrist Doctor Waggner (Patrick Macnee).
But there, Karen doesn't get any better, and she soon starts dreaming
about wolves - and that apparently a wolf is loose in the vicinity killing
cows does not help one bit either. Chris meanwhile adapts far better to
life in the Colony, not in the least thanks to local nymphomaniac Marsha
Meanwhile back in the city, Karen's colleagues Terry (Belinda Balaski)
and Chris (Dennis Gugan) learn that Eddie's corpse has disappeared from
the morgue, and in an occult bookstore (run by genre fave Dick Miller)
they learn a thing or two about werewolves and soon come to the conclusion
that the Colony and Eddie have to have something to do with werewolves.
Terry makes a visit to the Colony, but soon she crosses paths with
Eddie - who suddenly transforms into a wolf and kills her ...
Eventually, Chris makes a visit to the Colony as well, armed with a
shotgun loaded with silver bullets, and now he and Karen learn a thing or
two about the place: Doc Waggner, a werewolf himself, founded the Colony
to teach its inmates how to control their animal self and live in harnmony
with humans. But now the dark forces - including Eddie - take over the
Colony who actually want to be animals sometimes, and they even go so far
as to kill the Doctor. Then they turn on Karen and Chris, by now the only
humans in the colony - but are held at bay by Chris's silver bullets and
ultimately whiped out ... but not before Karen is bitten by a werewolf and
thus turned into one herself ...
In an atttempt to warn the general public of the werewolf-threat, Karen
turns into a werewolf during her live news broadcast and subsequently has
shot herself dead by Chris - only the public is less then impressed,
thinking the whole thing to be a special effect ...
Plus, Marsha, the nymphomaniac has escaped the Colony-massacre ...
Generally hailed as a reinvention of the werewolf genre, The Howling
is actually nothing if not overrated: The many then trendy Freudian
references are as superficial and overly in-your-face as they are dated,
the dialogue tries hard to be sophisticated but hardly gets above soap
opera-level - best (or worst) example "We are so out of sync, we
never want the same things anymore" -, and some of the film's
plottwists are simply put pathetic.
Now that's not to say that The Howling is an all-bad film, it
features some really cool transformation sequences, it by and large avoids
ridiculous scenes of werewolves hulking about, and Joe Dante's ironic
intelligence as a director often shines through in little scenes, like
when a werewolf attack is intercut with a big bad wolf cartoon from
the 1930's or characters are repeatedly depicted watching the classic Wolf
Man - and scenes like these make the film somewhat worthwhile
after all, even if it has done little to reinvent the genre.