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Howling, The (1981, Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee)

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In this inventive werewolf shocker, TV newscaster Dee Wallace, severely traumatised while acting as a decoy to help trap serial sex killer Robert Picardo, suffers recurring nightmares and is advised by psychologist Patrick Macnee to spend time with her husband Christopher Stone at his isolated Colony in northern California.

There Wallace is disturbed by strange howling noises coming from the nearby woods and discovers the mutilated corpses of several cattle. Local policeman Slim Pickens leads a search party but finds nothing. But later Stone is attacked and bitten by a beast. Meanwhile, Wallace’s television colleagues, Belinda Balaski and Dennis Dugan, continue to follow up leads to the sex killer, discovering a bizarre lycanthropic element to the investigation. Then Stone begins to undergo strange metamorphoses.

Dante and, particularly, co-screenwriter John Sayles, pay entertaining homage to the genre, not only to ROGER CORMAN, who makes a cameo appearance patiently waiting outside a telephone booth while Wallace completes her call, but also to several legendary horror film directors who supply The Howling’s character names — for example, Balaski is ‘Terry (Terence) Fisher’ and Kevin McCarthy portrays ‘Fred(die) Francis’.

Made on a relatively low budget and with just a one month shooting schedule, the extensive special effects by Rob Bottin of the man-to-beast metamorphosis are particularly impressive in creating a film that belies its budgetary origins.

production details
USA | Embassy | 91 minutes | 1981

Director: Joe Dante
Writers: John Sayles, Terence H Winkless, from the novel by Gary Brandner

cast
Dee Wallace as Karen White
Patrick Macnee as Dr. George Waggner
John Carradine as Erle Kenton
Dick Miller as Walter Paisley – Bookstore Owner
Belinda Balaski as Terry Fisher
James Murtaugh as Jerry Warren
Dennis Dugan as Chris
Christopher Stone as R. William ‘Bill’ Neill
Kevin McCarthy as Fred Francis
Slim Pickens as Sam Newfield
Elisabeth Brooks as Marsha Quist
Robert Picardo as Eddie Quist
Margie Impert as Donna
Noble Willingham as Charlie Barton
Jim McKrell as Lew Landers
Meshach Taylor as Shantz
Forrest J. Ackerman as Bookstore Customer
Robert A. Burns as Porn Store Patron
Jonathan Kaplan as Gas Station Attendant
John Sayles as Morgue Attendant
Roger Corman as Man in Phone Booth
Kenneth Tobey as Older Cop
Don McLeod as T.C. Quist
Bill Sorrells as Kline
Ivan Saric as Jack Molina
Steve Nevil as Young Cop
Sarina C. Grant as Hooker

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