The Howling (1981)


Directed & Edited by: Joe Dante

Written by: John Sayles & Terence H. Winkless
Gary Bradner (Novel)


Dee Wallace .... Karen White
Patrick Macnee .... Dr. George Waggner
Dennis Dugan .... Chris
Christopher Stone .... R. William (Bill) Neill
Belinda Balaski .... Terry Fisher
Margie Impert .... Donna
Kevin McCarthy .... Fred Francis
John Carradine .... Erle Kenton
Slim Pickens .... Sam Newfield
Elisabeth Brooks .... Marsha Quist
Robert Picardo .... Eddie Quist
Noble Willingham .... Charlie Barton
James Murtaugh .... Jerry Warren

Release Dates: Theatrical: January 21, 1981 (France); March 13, 1981 (New York); April 10 1981 (North American Nationwide); Night Visions Film Festival: November 1, 2012 (Netherlands)

*Images courtesy at:





A TV newswoman named Karen White (Dee Wallace) meets up with a killer named Eddie Quist (Robert Picardo) in an Xrated movie theatre as he has some personal discussions he needs to sort out with her.
Suddenly she spots something terrifying about him and then she nearly encounters a death with the serial killer.
She keeps having nightmares about that horrible incident and her shrink Dr. George Waggner (Patrick Macnee) sends her and her husband Bill (Christopher Stone) to a retreatment center after she can't shake the awful feeling and to get rid of her amnesia while some coroners do some researching on the corpses the killer created on them with look like animal marks.

The retreatment centre is in a small village out in the woods by the ocean. There she has group therapy hosted by Waggner.
She finds the surroundings there friendly but very strange with the residents there especially when night time comes around as she hears terrible howling sounds.

She keeps having terrifying nightmares of what is going to happen there and then discovers that the village there is invaded by werewolves and also realises that she is in more danger there than the incident with the killer Eddie because even her husband is turned into a werewolf himself after being briefly attacked by one.


A great impressive beginning with a station getting ready for a criminal search as we have the lead character Karen White going into an xrated booth to talk to the mysterious person there as we have seen his mouth on the phone talking to her in which all of this looked very dark and mysterious. And then we see a dark shadow on what he looked like on him changing which makes you wonder as to what is going to happen here as this moment looked truly suspenseful to watch and drawing you in as to what will happen later on too.
Perfect psychological moment when she is about to go on the air at the news broadcast but can't concentrate as well as seeing hallucinations on what had happened beforehand as this looked effective and can psych you out while watching all of this.
Good discussons between Karen and Dr. George Waggner on a counselling session as to what to do to get things off her mind in which the moments here were believeably done by what we spot with the personalities between the two of them.
There's interesting campy moments with people there having a roast at the great outdoors which was well done as well as a strange eccentric old man Erle Kenton by wanting to take his life at a bonfire as this draws your attention leaving a clue that this place is the home of the werewolves. Also another mysterious moment that involves Marsha Quist being creepily charming towards Bill offering him punch as this leaves another mysterious moment which shines off nicely for a werewolf flick. Then it shows her getting aggressive later on as the scene looked perfectly intense while this moment happens.
Also a good moment with Karen having nightmares which looked good and twisted with the camera shots on these moments as well as her waking up and looking out the window and hearing a howling as well as a shot on the deep dark woods with mist as this looked truly frightening. Plus later on spotting some monstrous face in the woods staring at their cabin which gives you the chills big time.
Nice effective moments with Karen in group therapy at the lodge and almost losing control as this was solidly paced.
Nice still moments with Bill in the woods and then he is attacked by a werewolf with good brief scene's on this monster adding some nice brief terror in this scene.
A perfect memorable scene when Bill goes out at night near a bonfire and lusts with Marsha as this looked good and artsy as well as them turning into werewolves along with a great shot looking up on Bill revealing his fangs and growing hair as this moment was a classic. However things seemed to take a little too long while we keep watching and it eventually seems a little over the top.
A nice moment when Terry Fisher tries to look for something in the woods and something speaks to her to go into the cabin as this was genuinely scary for anyone who gets frekaed out easily while watching horror flicks. Plus some good shots on a werewolf crashing their hands through some walls and trying to get at her. Pretty suspenseful stuff.
Nice dark moment when Karen realises the mysterious person in the beginning of the story revealing himself and then good effects on him turning into a werewolf but yet this scene takes a little too long and should've been cut short.
Great creepy moment with Terry using a phone to call on what is happening as well as a good shot on a werewolf hand pressing a tape recorder on. Then later on terrific shots on the creepiest looking werewolf coming in for the kill. Great effects on making this beast looking monstrous as I tip my hat off to the person making this look good.
Great action moments when Karen is at the ceremony in a barn and we find the locals all surrounding there in which is a surprise to find out the innocent one's or even people working for the law is involved as this works in well for a twisted horror flick. Plus perfect action moments with Chris trying to save the day firing his rifle as well as great shots on these locals revealing their fangs and trying to attack when he tries to rescue Karen and get her away from the madness. LOts of struggling action sequences going on.
The most memorable moment is yet to come that involves Karen live on the news and what she's about to discuss as it was another classic moment in the story and sad as well. Of course we get to see a sequel some years later which seemed necessary since we want to watch more after seeing this happen.
Bottom line is that the film has some humor at first to make the viewers who gets scared easily to relax as that's just what happens when the film starts to roll as it becomes very serious with the terror on the werewolves. The film has terrific werewolf effects whenever someone turns into one too. Werewolf films became popular during this time period due to this one as well as An American Werewolf in London.

The acting is very well done and strongly performed as Dee Wallace (Karen White) really steals the show with her performance by her freaked out wemotions on the wolves howling and being the target for a serial killer too in the beginning of this film. Also does well with her sobbing emotions after nearly being terrorised during the near beginning of her performance in which she made that moment believeable. Also shows a good disturbed attitude and getting frightened and choked up when she is gonna be on broadcast on her news hosting as she also got into this a great deal. Seemed to do a good job by getting upset in group therapy or reacting well to her nightmares along with acting perfectly uncomfortable when hearing howling sounds in the certain scenes reacting fully alert to all of this. Her ending scene in the newsroom as she has a terrifying secret is a true classic and will always be remembered.
Patrick Macnee (Dr. George Waggner) brought on a great deceiving charm to his role as a shrink as he shows off a great calm and mellow attitude onto the screen. He for sure knew his craft superbly. Also shows a good sympathetic type of behavior too. He drew in as someone mystrerious as it shows off well making you wonder if he will be behind the madness later on.
Dennis Dugan (Chris) really seemed to be fully energised into all that he did here as well as coming across as someone whom is level headed. Was sharp with his speaking as well as doing well with his odd aggressions when necessary. He was a true force of nature by all that he did here.
Christopher Stone (R. William (Bill) Neill) is great as the husband and really performs well along with showing his caring and sympathetic behavior. Does well acting uncomfortable with someone coming on strong twards him. Plus does well being alert to things too. Was great with his painful reactions when attacked. Got into his role extremely well when going into a lustful phase and turning into a werewolf just rolling with the punches and made this look natural.
Belinda Balaski (Terry Fisher) drew you in a great deal as someone perfectly level headed as well as showing great adrenaline into all that she did while looking for clues and doing well with her speaking on stuff. I found her a natural talent and pulled off her character well. She also does greatly reacting to the struggling moments bringing it to a hype.
Margie Impert (Donna) seemed to show off a decent bubbly attitude as well as coming off a bit odd and unusual. Really knew on what she was doing and coming off as someone whom is too friendly on stuff. She for sure made her part as deceivingly innocent and making you wonder as to how she is involved into the story too.
Kevin McCarthy (Fred Francis) drew well onto the camera as a TV news producer having a somewhat uplifting attitude but yet drew in a good seriousness to all that he did. Had the perfect rough looks to play this role as a boss at the studio. Speaks well as always for everything that I've seen him in.
John Carradine (Erle Kenton) brought it on and this time didn't have a minor role compared to the recent films I saw him in as he breezed through the scene's well as a disturbed old coot as he shows a great rough speaking and comes off very strangely. Plus does well with his upsetting emotions as well as acting a bit odd towards others. I tip my hat off to him for having a decent role in this one.
Slim Pickens (Sam Newfield) was an attention grabber in his supporting role in which he seemed to be someone whom is almost mentally challenged by the things that he said. Also has a good freaky looks to his part as you get the feeling that he's one of the werewolves. Springs into action here and there and does it with good horror style.
Elisabeth Brooks (Marsha Quist) had the best supporting role of them all in which she has a great wicked charm and temptation to her speaking and saying it very softly too. But had a nice coldness to it all. She for sure lived to play one of the werewolves by strutting her stuff here. Plus adds more good characteristics in a scene when she shows a perfect sharp aggression.
Robert Picardo
(Eddie Quist) lived to play a maniac werewolf psychopath as he had a sueprb dark voice and sounding perfectly gruff within all that he did. His evil actions and looks were convincingly scary while we watch him perform in action as well as coming off as very slick into all that he did here.
Noble Willingham (Charlie Barton) was a natural ham as a sheriff in the flick along with having a happy go lucky type of attitude too. Also comes across as a suspect of the werewolf pack seeming too friendly and helpful with things. Shows off a good southern type of accent too as well as his stocky looks too. He suited the part perfectly.

A porn actress is gagged on screen at an X rated movie theatre and her breasts and full body shot are exposed.
Elisabeth Brooks
takes off her cloak near a bonfire and is naked from the top to the bottom while there are some brief butt shots by Christopher Stone's character as the two starts to fornicate before turning into werewolves.

There is some guts at a mortuary when they research an attack by the killer.
A werewolfs hand is chopped off by an axe and looks quite gruesome too as the hand is still moving.
A woman's throat is sliced open by werewolf claws and then she is later seen gutted and torn apart.
A guys face is torn while he becomes a werewolf.

Pino Donaggio composed the music beautifully with classical sounds of violin and other stuff which really works great for this film. Has the high sounds and also nice peaceful moments for the calm scene's. Plus combines old fashioned organ type music which sounded a little too dated for a flick like this but that's my only criticism. We also hear the odd chiming and some string playing too which sounds good as well. He is a true classic gem for this music. He has also composed music for various foreign films too. For ther closing credits nice southern music by a hamrnocia and accoustic guitar playing having a good sadness with it all which seemed necessary.

Bill Neill: I'm looking for my wife.
Marsha Quist: Why?

[looking in what was Eddie Quist's morgue locker]
Chris: He's not here!
Morgue Attendant: He was here this morning!
Terry Fisher: (noticing the damage on the inside of the locker door) Look at the door!
Chris: You think somebody took him?
Morgue Attendant: Well, he didn't just get up and walk away!

Karen: There was howling just a minute ago.
Bill Neill: It was probably somebody's stray dog.
Karen: It didn't sound like any dog I've ever heard before.
Bill Neill: Honey, you're from Los Angeles. The wildest thing you've ever heard is Wolfman Jack. This is the country.

[On how to kill werewolves]
Bookstore owner: Silver bullets or fire, that's the only way to get rid of the damn things. They're worse than cockroaches.

Bookstore owner: [talking about his occult bookstore] The Manson people used to hang out here and shoplift!

Eddie Quist: (to Chris) Hello, bright boy.

Chris: Eddie?
Eddie Quist: You know me, but I don't know you. Why is that?

Eddie Quist: Don't you know anything?

Chris: You're crazy!
Eddie Quist: Oh, I'm much more than that!

Eddie Quist: I'm gonna give you a piece of my mind. I trusted you, Karen. (proceeds to pull a piece of his skull out a bullet hole in his head)

Erle Kenton: You can't tame what's meant to be wild, doc. It just ain't natural.

Chris: I've got silver bullets in here. (points rifle)
Jerry Warren: Silver bullets my ass! Get up, T.C.!

Dr. George Waggner: Thank God! (drops to the ground)

Fred Francis: [on the phone after Karen freezes during a newscast] Who knows? Maybe she's pregnant. Listen, get in touch with that Fujiama, Fujimoto, or whatever the hell her name is and get her ready for the 11:00 report.

Erle Kenton: We should have stuck with the old ways. Raising cattle for our feed. Where's the life in that?
Charlie Barton: Humans *are* our cattle.
Erle Kenton: Humans are our *prey*. We should feed on them, like we've always done. Screw all this "channel your energies" crap.