Probably Dante's darkest film, and an interesting take on lycanthrophy as sexual aggression and predation. These werewolves aren't just feral beasts, they're lusty, even sadistic, emphasizing the hell the protagonist lives through as a struggling survivor of a sexual crime. A far cry from the lighthearted mischief of Gremlins indeed.
A local news reporter tries to help police capture a serial killer, and accidentally stumbles upon a wellness retreat full of werewolves in Joe Dante's genre classic. The special effects are pretty strong for the time, especially considering the film's low budget, but its characters aren't particularly interesting. Dante directed much stronger films (GREMLINS, PIRANHA), but this one spawned numerous sequels.
Would give it a 2.5 if possible. Starts out well and ends well, but most of the time spent in the resort feels undercooked and bland. The way they split between Karen's story and Terri/Chris hurts both plots, I especially felt like we should've gotten more of Terri and Chris who were much more fun to watch. The transformation scenes are good, though.
Somewhere between ambitious practical effects and interesting ideas of human's repressed drives, there is a blank space where the story was supposed to be. The reason for that are bland characters that are used as an excuse for excessive transformation scenes that usually try to grab more than they can handle. In spite of that, werewolves were never more horrendous than this, thus making it a proper werewolf flick.
Joe Dante's The Howling is an effective but forgettable genre movie that has more bark than bite. The creature FX are stellar given the time, but there is something deeply missing here. The characters never come to life and the subject matter isn't nearly as captivating as the filmmakers think it is. I was hoping for a film that would be much more fun with more character. A stepping stone that would lead to Gremlins.
"Repression. Repression is the father of neurosis, of self-hatred. Now, stress results when we fight against our impulses. We've all heard people talk about animal magnetism, the natural man. the noble savage - as if we'd lost something valuable in our long evolution into civilized human beings."