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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!


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-MonsterZero NJ





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Patrick: Evil Awakens is an Australian horror film that is a remake of Richard Franklin’s 1978 horror flick Patrick… which I must admit I haven’t scene until now but, that is being remedied as I write this. The story finds recently single nurse Kathy Jacquard (You’re Next’s Sharni Vinson) coming to work at a clinic specializing in the comatose and brain dead. The Roget Clinic is run by the brilliant but, cold hearted Dr. Roget (Charles  Dance) and his equally cold head nurse Matron Cassidy (Rachel Griffiths). Her only friend there is pretty and promiscuous Nurse Williams (Peta Sergeant) until she starts to feel sympathy toward a handsome brain dead patient named Patrick (Jackson Gallagher) who Roget uses as the focus of his experimental treatments… treatments Kathy finds cruel and unnecessary. But, Patrick may not be as brain dead as he seems and when he starts to communicate with Kathy through simple gestures and then through more advanced methods, she is delighted …until not only is Patrick’s true nature revealed but, the full force of his telekinetic power and his homicidal infatuation with her. Now she and anyone close to her are in mortal danger from a fiend whose mind is far from dead and whose intent is far from good.

Under the skilled direction of Mark Hartley, from a script by Justin King based on the original film, Patrick: Evil Awakens is a pleasant horror surprise that gives us a healthy does of chills and thrills and is loaded with heavy Gothic atmosphere that reminded me of the classic Hammer Horror films in their heyday. Even in it’s quieter moments, Hartley establishes an underlying tension far before Patrick reveals himself to be the powerful and demented fiend that his handsome, peaceful demeanor hides all too well. Patrick’s powers and intent are revealed slowly as first strange occurrences happen to injure the two men vying for Kathy’s attention, ex-husband Ed (Damon Gameau) and handsome Brian (Martin Crewes) and Patrick begins to communicate with her through electronic devices such as PC and cellphone. But, it’s not long before Patrick goes all Carrie and people start dying in gruesome ways and the film really takes off and has a blast with it’s story. And despite how outrageous things get and some weak FX betraying some of the more advanced applications of Patrick’s power, Hartley maintains the tension and dread while having a little over the top fun in his last act… and the last act is a blast of intense fun even with some borderline silly uses of telekinesis and the weak FX mentioned earlier. The film also has some sumptuous but, unsettling cinematography by Garry Richards and an atmospheric and very effective score by legendary Italian composer Pino Donaggio that help director Hartley deliver a horror that is both quaintly old fashioned and yet visceral, intense and modern. Not bad for a documentary filmmaker’s first flick!

The cast are exceptional, and go a long way in helping the preposterous scenario work, with Vinson once again playing a strong and resilient heroine but, with a very human and compassionate core. Charles Dance… a very underrated and skilled actor… creates a character that deftly walks the fine line between brilliant physician and obsessed Frankenstein in his Dr. Roget. He at first seems arrogant but, noble till, like Patrick, his true nature become clear. Rachel Griffiths also gives us a character that at first feels like just a cold-hearted bitch but, there are some interesting layers revealed as the plot progresses and Peta Sergeant is very lively and likable as Williams, the only person at the clinic that seems to have a heart aside from Kathy. The rest of the cast do well in establishing their characters despite not a lot of screen time and the work of the cast overall really helps make this the treat it is. They take their parts very seriously and along with director Hartley’s giving lots of respect to what could have turned out to be a silly story, give this horror the weight it needs even when it starts to go over the top.

So, Overall, I had a blast with Patrick: Evil Awakens. It’s a film which nostalgically reminded me of a Gothic Hammer Horror film yet very much a modern day chiller with a lot of visceral intensity and gore. The film isn’t afraid to go over the top but, wisely chooses when to do so and overcomes some weak FX while keeping the sillier uses of Patrick’s telekinesis from camp territory. It’s a fun and very effective horror and based on what I’ve seen while writing this, livelier and far more intense then the well made but, stuffy and low key original… and the remake honors that flick with some nice nods too. A very entertaining horror and a really effective feature film debut from director Mark Hartley. Sad this got dumped unceremoniously onto home media when it ranks as one of the better horror flicks I’ve seen so far this year.

3 and 1/2 nightmare thrown nurses.

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WARNING: Trailer is brief but, does give away a key character’s fate and one of the film’s better bits.




So, watched the original PG-rated flick while writing my remake review and while it is well-made and basically follows the same story… not to mention stars 70s Brit cutie Susan Penhaligon who I was crushing on as a kid after first seeing her in The Land That Time Forgotit is basically very low key and works more in melodrama and subtlety with Patrick’s (here Robert Thompson) moments of telekinesis being a lot more grounded and all done in camera. It was an interesting film and well acted but, I prefer the remake’s more stylish and intense approach. The original was also very somber and humorless compared to the remake which had a more fun with it’s premise.

So, in this case, while I am not fond of the horror remake trend, this is an example of a good one where the original isn’t perfect and is expanded and improved upon in the redo.

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