An instant werewolf classic, The Howling
was directed by Joe Dante, a graduate of Roger Corman's school of low-budget ingenuity who had gained enough momentum with 1978's Piranha
to rise to this bigger challenge. He brought along Piranha
screenwriter John Sayles, too, and recruited makeup wizard Rob Bottin to create what was then the wildest on-screen transformation ever seen. With Gary Brandner's novel The Howling
as a starting point, Sayles and Dante conceived a werewolf colony on the California coast, posing as a self-help haven led by a seemingly benevolent doctor (Patrick Macnee), and populated by a variety of "patients", from sexy, leather-clad sirens (Elisabeth Brooks) to an old coot (John Carradine) who's quite literally long in the tooth. When a TV reporter (Dee Wallace) arrives at the colony to recover from a recent trauma, the resident lycanthropes prepare for a howlin' good time.
Dante handles it all with equal measures of humour, sex, gore, and horror, pulling out all the stops when the ravenous Eddie (Dante favourite Robert Picardo, later known as The Doctor on Star Trek: Voyager) transforms into a towering , bloodthirsty werewolf. (Bottin's mentor Rick Baker would soon raise the make-up ante with An American Werewolf in London.) As usual in Dante's movies (qv. Gremlins), in-jokes abound, from characters named after werewolf movie directors, amusing cameos (Corman, Sayles, Forrest J Ackerman), and hammy inserts of wolfish cartoons and Allen Ginsberg's "Howl". It's best appreciated now as a quintessential example of early-80s horror, with low-budget limitations evident throughout, but The Howling remains a giddy genre milestone. --Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com
A female TV reporter (Dee Wallace) goes to an out-of-town retreat in order to recover from a traumatic encounter with a serial killer. Unfortunately, her attempt to get some rest and relaxation is ruined by the fact that her fellow inmates are all werewolves. Joe Dante's horror-spoof brilliantly combines chills and laughs with amazing special effects and movie-buff references. Watch out for cameo appearances from B-movie maestro Roger Corman and director John Sayles (who co-scripted the film).