Of all the werewolf movies made in the 80s, few are worth watching. However, a few classic do exist, and most horror fans agree that “The Howling” is one of them. While not quite as accomplished as An American Werewolf in London, “The Howling” was received well enough to spawn a long running series and start a short-lived werewolf fad-which is probably how a movie as abnormal as An American Werewolf in London found funding.
Like many aspects of the film, the plot feels a bit dated. After an encounter with a serial killer, newswoman Karen White is sent to “the Colony” by her psychiatrist. The Colony is a sort of hippie commune where patients are sent for seminars and natural solutions for their problems. Of course, the Colony is really a front for a clan of werewolves, who quickly turn Karen’s husband into one of their own.
Yes, the plot is silly, and the special effects haven’t held up much better. But despite its age, “The Howling” is still one of the better werewolf films out there. While the werewolves look a bit “muppetesque” today, at the time they were top notch. The design of the creatures is unique, mixing elements of wolf and man more equally than most other werewolf films. But what works the best about “The Howling” is the mood. With a somber, hopeless feel straight out of “Taxi Driver” and a great ending, the film’s atmosphere far overshadows the thin plot and dated effects. Everyone involved with the making of the film treats it very seriously, from director Joe Dante and writer John Sayles to the cast and effects artists. This serious, straight-faced attitude is what made the movie work; a lot of hard work was put into creating a moody, frightening film. Although the film may have lost some of its bite over the years, it will always remain one of the most respected werewolf films ever.