I’ll be honest, I always have a slightly weird sensation when it comes to re-watching and reviewing the first film in any horror franchise.

It’s trying to operate without the benefit of hindsight, or casting aside the dirge that may well have followed in the form of endless sequels.

And boy is that the case with The Howling, which has managed to churn out eight movies in its series – at least, that’s how many I think there are, I may even have missed some.

Anyway, here we have the 1981 original, restored and ready to go on blu-ray, and it remains a good watch.

A hybrid film of sorts (in many ways fitting considering the subject matter), this werewolf shocker kicks off with a pretty bleak opening, TV news anchor Karen White (Dee Wallace) being stalked by a serial killer named Eddie Quist (Robert Picardo).

Throw in a visit to a sleazy porn club, some grim footage of a rape and a bloody shootout, the action then switches to the far-more-laid-back Colony, a retreat visited by Karen at the behest of her therapist Dr Waggner (Patrick Macnee) as a means of her recovering from her ordeal.

Before too long though the Colony reveals itself as far from normality as can be imagined, instead chock full of shapeshifting werewolves – and when Quist himself pops up, Karen is certainly in for a bumpy ride…

With a script tweaked by John Sayles and under the direction of Joe Dante, The Howling certainly succeeds, but it is somewhat scattergun in its approach, jumping from very adult content to comedy throughout.

The effects are also a real selling point, with Rob Bottin’s transformation sequences certainly memorable.

Wallace makes for a solid lead (indeed, she should probably be held up as more of a genre icon than she is), and for horror fans there is also the delight of a virtual cavalcade of genre cameos, with the likes of Roger Corman and John Carradine popping up.

As far as the disc goes the picture looks great and there is plenty of enjoyable bonus content, with a couple of documentaries that look at both the film and the series as a whole.

I wouldn’t go as far as saying The Howling is a must-buy release, but it is certainly a worthy addition to any fan’s catalogue.

Blu-Ray Review: The Howling
3.5Overall Score
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About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.