Today: May 24, 2024

The Howling

Released just four months before John Landis’ bigger budget An American Werewolf In London, The Howling was an indie success story that spawned seven follow-up films and three novels.

That success undoubtedly owes much to Rob Bottin’s extraordinary transformation scenes, and pioneering use of make-up effects and prosthetics. Surprisingly, The Howling was Bottin’s first solo project. He would later go on to work on on The Fog, The Thing, RoboCop, and Total Recall, while his mentor, Rick Baker, actually provided the effects for American Werewolf.

Impressive as the effects are, though, the enduring appeal of The Howling lies in its storytelling. Director Joe Dante, of Gremlins fame, is a master at combining horror with sly laughs and The Howling manages to be both dark and darkly humorous. There are no real surprises plot-wise: what pulls the viewer in is how the story’s told. 

Star Trek’s Robert Picardo is especially effective as the unhinged serial killer. Dee Wallace, as the traumatised Karen, is pitch perfect. While The Avenger’s Patrick Macnee plays suave with menace so well that we’re left wishing he’d done more horror.

The latest re-issue marks the 40th anniversary of the classic with a brand new 4K restoration, which comes in 4K Ultra HD, Blu-Ray, DVD and Steelbook editions. For those with a hankering to to know the technical details, the 4K 16-bit scan was made from the original 35mm negative. The image from the 1.20 negative was then cropped to 1.85 in order to respect the original format of the film projection. This is a restoration that took a few hundred hours of meticulously filtering in order to correct the defects related to the age of the film and to the wear of time—and the results are impressive.

The Howling is gory. There are some genuine shocks. And yes, there’s the requisite steamy sex scene. However, like all the best horrors what really makes The Howling a five star film is that it’s so unsettling. Dante knows how to keep his audience off kilter and, over three decades after its original release, The Howling remains a wonderfully unnerving, skin-prickling viewing experience. And, thanks to StudioCanal’s new restoration, the film is ready to be rediscovered by a new-generation of horror fans, who demand high-end visuals. In fact, commenting on the restoration, director Joe Dante said: “I can honestly say this 4K restoration is the best The Howling has looked since it came out of the lab in 1980— maybe better. I’m happy to have it back in circulation at last.”

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email: writerpaula@icloud.com

Previous Story

WIN! The Damned on Criterion Collection Blu-ray

Next Story

Chuck Steel – Night of the Trampires

Latest from Blog

Memory

Memory (2023)

Memory is an exquisite American drama in the tender embrace of Michel Franco’s cinematic prowess.

Enter the Clones of Bruce Unboxing

There have been so many books, documentaries, and even biopics of the immeasurably pioneering martial arts icon Bruce Lee. His life and work have been studied intensely, and his influence remains felt

BackBeat Unboxing

This month saw underrated Beatle-biopic BackBeat make its Blu-ray debut from Fabulous Films, surely delighting the band’s collectors and completists. Telling the story of the Beatles’ first bassist – the so-called ‘lost

D-Day 80th Anniversary

In just a couple of weeks, the world will observe the 80th anniversary of D-Day, the unprecedented allied invasion of the beaches of Normandy on 6th June 1944. It’s impossible to imagine

Lawmen: Bass Reeves Unboxing

Originally envisioned as yet another Yellowstone spin-off, Lawmen: Bass Reeves is one of the best television westerns in years. Fronted by a stellar performance from David Oyelowo alongside screen legends Donald Sutherland

Malum + Hunt Her Kill Her Unboxings

Following their big-screen double-bill release back in April, Screenbound Pictures have given Malum and Hunt Her Kill Her the Blu-ray treatment. These unapologetically grisly shockers are packed with unforgettable gore and unrelenting
Go toTop

Don't Miss

The Feast

Every director who aims to make a horror movie, should

The Howling – 4K Collector’s Edition Unboxing

With THE HOWLING, director Joe Dante (GREMLINS, INNERSPACE) and screenwriter