The Howling is a 1981 horror movie from director Joe Dante. It was adapted from a 1977 novel by Gary Brandner and it had a string of sequels that are so bad – you can’t believe that they actually made seven of them.
The screenplay was by John Sayles who had worked with Dante on their 1978 Jaws spoof / rip-off Piranha. The film stars Dee Wallace-Stone as TV reporter who is being stalked by a serial killer. The movie starts with Wallace-Stone meeting the killer in a sleazy porno theatre as part of a police sting. The experience is so traumatic Wallace-Stone’s psychiatrist (Patrick Macnee) recommends a secluded resort called The Colony so she can recover. Once there it quickly becomes clear that something more sinister is going on.
Dante and Sayles’ loosely adapted Brandner’s novel – they added in-jokes and changed character names to pay homage to several horror directors. Partrick Macnee’s character was Dr. George Waggner. Waggner directed The Wolf Man. The movie had impressive werewolf transformation effects but these were overshadowed by another awesome 1981 werewolf movie An American Werewolf in London. The Howling only showed the head being transformed while An American Werewolf in London showed the whole body.
Really good werewolf movies are few in number and this is one of the few that are good. Dante would go on to direct Gremlins and Sayles would move into the director’s hat and create such films as Lone Star, Passion Fish, Eight Men Out, The Secret of Roan Inish, and Matewan.