MONSTERZERO NJ’S MOVIE MEMORIES: HAPPY 42nd ANNIVERSARY THE HOWLING (1981)

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HAPPY 42nd ANNIVERSARY THE HOWLING (1981)

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The Joe Dante werewolf classic turns 42!!

The Howling was released 42 years ago, and its anniversary has brought back memories, as I saw it with friends at a special preview screening, weeks before it’s March 13th release, at the now long-gone Stanley Warner Theater in Paramus, NJ. Preview screenings were quite common back in the 80s before there was an internet and were used to spread advance word of mouth to promote movies before websites like Rotten Tomatoes and Bloody Disgusting did the job as they do now. As such, we didn’t know quite what to expect as the only knowledge of the movie came from Fangoria articles and brief commercials on TV. There was no Youtube to view trailers either. If you didn’t catch a trailer at your local theater with another movie, you missed it.

 

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Howling heroine and future horror queen Dee Wallace knows there is something lurking in the woods!

For those unfamiliar… The Howling is a true horror classic and is regarded as one of the best werewolf movies ever made. Joe Dante, fresh off of Roger Corman’s Piranha, re-teamed with writer John Sayles for a fun and spooky tale of lycanthrope loose in the California hills that was based on a book by Gary Brandner. After a traumatic close call with a strangely animalistic serial killer named Eddie Quist (Robert Picardo), young newswoman, Karen (Dee Wallace) is sent to a holistic retreat by her therapist, Dr. Waggner (Patrick Macnee) for treatment. But unknown to Karen and her husband, Bill (Christopher Stone), The Colony is actually a haven for werewolves that the therapist is trying to civilize…and that a certain, Eddie Quist was one of his ‘patients’. Some of the pack have other ideas and are looking at Karen as their next meal.

 

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Rob Bottin’s amazing transformation FX that beat Rick Baker’s American Werewolf work to theaters by five months!

We all loved it! It was fun, scary and Rob Bottin’s make-up, gore and werewolf transformation effects blew us away. The mix of twisted humor and horror elements was perfect! It’s been my favorite werewolf movie ever since…sorry American Werewolf in London. Personally, I am not a fan of the sequels that followed and was very disappointed at the route they took with Howling II, which has now become a cult favorite all these years later after initially being scorned. Why they didn’t do a direct sequel and bring back Marsha (Elizabeth Brooks) was beyond me and how they screwed up a sequel that starred the great Christopher Lee, I’ll never figure out.

 

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There is something malevolent and hungry stalking a remote retreat in the California woodlands.

Accepted by horror fandom as a horror classic and one of the best werewolf movies of all-time, The Howling has remained effective all these decades later and Rob Bottin’s prosthetic transformations effects still lauded as a far better than any CGI could hope to be. Dee Wallace is also renown as one of the queens of modern horror and it’s still counted as one of legendary filmmaker Joe Dante’s best movies!

HAPPY 42nd ANNIVERSARY THE HOWLING (1981)

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-MonsterZero NJ

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