- Movie Rating -

The Howling (1981)

| March 13, 1981

On the exact same day that I saw Jerry Lewis’ comeback comedy Hardly Working, I also saw the werewolf picture The Howling.  I expected so much from the Jerry Lewis movie and so little from the werewolf movie.  My conclusion: Stay on the job because you never know what you’re going to get.

The Howling is a superior horror movie that seems determined to breaking away from the usual tenets of the genre by not just having a creep lurking in the dark and pouncing on half-dressed nubile young women.  No, this one has a story.  It has a creepy villain.  It has a protagonist who experiences trauma that we can identify with.

Dee Wallace plays Karen White a newswoman who is stalked by a serial killer Eddie Quist (Robert Picardo).  As the movie opens, she is part of a police sting operation to trap him in a sleazy porn theater.  The plan goes well, but she is left severely traumatized and so her psychologist recommends that she and her husband go away to a resort called “The Colony.”

Turns out that the serial killer was only the beginning of her problems has she and her husband become slowly aware that they have been cast into a secluded nest of werewolves, all of different sizes, shapes, machinations and psychological torment.  What makes it work is that we aren’t sure right away exactly what is happening.  This isn’t one of the movies in which we are ten steps ahead of the main characters.  We know only what they know and that ratchets up the tension.  This is a smart thriller, a good horror film that trusts it audience by giving them more than just the four-step requirements of The Killer, The Motivation. The Victims, The Showdown.

More I cannot say about this movie.  By calling a werewolf picture, I’ve already given too much away and by saying that it works while you’re watching it, I’ve already given you an expectation.  I won’t say any more except that this is a good genre piece, a scary movie that will not insult your intelligence.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1981) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized