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The Howling

USA 1981
produced by
Jack Conrad, Michael Finnell, Daniel H. Blatt (executive), Steven A. Lane (executive), Rob Bottin (associate) for AVCO Embassy, International Film Investors, Wescom Productions
directed by Joe Dante
starring Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, Dennis Dugan, Chritopher 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 Martínez, Daniel Núnez, Michael O'Dwyer, Wendell Wright, Forrest J.Ackerman, Roger Corman, John Sayles
screenplay by John Sayles, Terence H. Winkless, based on the novel by Gary Brandner, music by Pino Donaggio, special makeup effects by Rob Bottin, stop motion animation by David Allen


review by
Mike Haberfelner

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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 (Elisabeth Brooks).

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.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD