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Digital Dismemberment: Scream Factory delivers again with a near flawless release of “The Howling” Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray Review

The HowlingDirector: Joe Dante
Producers: Mike Finnel, Jack Conrad, Donald H. Blatt, Rob Bottin and Steven A. Lane
Special Effects: Doug Beswick, Roger George, Rob Bottin and Rick Baker
Cast: Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, Dennis Dugan, Christopher Stone, Belinda Balaski, Kevin McCarthy, John Carradine, Slim Pickens and Elisabeth Brooks
Released By: Shout!/Scream Factory
Release Date: 6/18/2013

The Premise

“From the director of Gremlins and Piranha comes the ultimate masterpiece of primal terror. Filled with edge-of-your-seat suspense, “genuine thrills [and] amazing special effects” (Us), this riveting werewolf tale sinks its teeth into your deepest fears and never lets go.

Severely shaken after a near-fatal encounter with a serial killer, TV newscaster Karen White (Dee Wallace, E.T.)takes some much-needed time off. Hoping to conquer her inner demons, she heads for “the Colony”, a secluded retreat where her new neighbors are just a tad too eager to make her feel at home. Also, there seems to be a bizarre link between her would-be attacker and his supposedly safe haven. And when, after nights of being tormented by savage shrieks and unearthly cries, Karen ventures into the forest to find answers, she makes a terrifying discovery. Now she must fight not only for her life… but for her very soul!”

Ahh, one of the true crown jewels of the werewolf genre!  Joe Dante horror follow up to ’78’s Piranha, The Howling brought together a mass of talent including such names as Robert Picardo, Dick Miller, Forrest J. Ackerman and Roger Corman, as well as some of the most incredible transformation sequences (non digital) ever expressed to film.

Originally, Rick Baker was doing the effects work for the film, but he left The Howling to work on An American Werewolf in London. Baker left the effects job to assistant Rob Bottin. Also, many of the set dressings for The Howling were hold-overs from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre; most notably the corpse in the armchair seen in Walter Paisley’s bookstore. They were supplied by art director Robert A. Burns, who had worked on TCM.

The Details


The film begins with TV reporter Karen White on the trail of a serial killer. She has agreed to a meet up with him while being under the watch of the police department, with the meeting being set up in a downtown porno shop. While following her leads, she meets him in one of the booths and is almost killed by the madman until two officers gun the lunatic down in the porno shop, but not before Karen thinks she sees a terrible transformation beginning to occur before eyes. However, she can’t confirm what she saw later.

Terribly shaken, she keeps having nightmarish flashbacks to the event. After a breakdown on the air while trying to do a report about the event, she visits with Dr. George Waggner, who advises her to take time away with her husband to go to The Colony, a secluded retreat in the middle of nowhere.

While they are there, they meet a wide variety of people. There seems to be an abundance of friendship and kindness amongst everybody, almost to the point of suspicion. Karen’s dreams persist at the camp, and she even begins to hear howling and something prowling around outside of their cabin. While Karen is at the camp, two other reporter friends of hers look into the guy that tried to kill her.  Upon visiting the morgue, they find that his body is missing!

Back at the camp, Karen is in group therapy and tries to recall the events of that night to no avail. Walking back at night to the cabin, her husband is attacked and bitten in the woods but does not recall what attacked him. Karen calls her two reporter friends in the city, and they head up to The Colony as well, hoping to come up with a clue as to what is going on. Karen continues to have the weird dreams and visions. Meanwhile, her husband begins to act very strange, even having wild, half hairy werewolf sex with another member of the camp.

The next the day, the female reporter is looking at drawings that were done by Karen’s attacker and finds that they match up with locations at The Colony. She begins to explore the surrounding area and finds a cabin secluded in the woods — finding proof that he was indeed staying there. Upon her discovery, she is attacked by a werewolf, but manages to escape after hacking its arm off with a hatchet. As she attempts to call for help from Dr. Waggner’s office, she is found and bitten by another werewolf.

Her boyfriend hears the death over the phone and goes to buy silver bullets. Karen finds her dead friend with her throat bitten out in the doctor’s office and is then attacked by the serial killer/werewolf from the beginning of the film. After he transforms, Karen throws acid in his face and tries to escape to The Colony, only to find out the whole place is full of werewolves.

Does Karen escape and expose the truth to the world or does she become yet another victim? You are going to have to watch the film to find out…


The Dismemberment

Bonus Features:

Audio Commentary–  (Track 1)- With Director Joe Dante, Actress Dee Wallace, Actors Christopher Stone and Robert Picardo. Ported over from the MGM The Howling Special Edition DVD released in 2003. (Track 2)- With Author Gary Brander. (New for this edition!)

Howling’s Eternal– (Run time of 19 minutes) Interview and Behind-the-Scenes with Executive Producer Steven A. Lane, discussing the film and the others that followed in the series. (New for this edition!)

Cut to Shreds– (Run time of 11 minutes) Interview with Editor Mark Goldblatt. High point of interview is when he discusses the different elements of cutting as it pertained to the changing sequences. (New for this edition!)

Interview with Co-writer Terrence Winkless- (Run time of 12 minutes) Interview with Co-writer Terrence Winkless. Nice interview detailing his work on the film and some good stories about on the set.

Horror’s Hallowed Grounds: A Look at the Film’s Locations- (Run time of 12 minutes) Hosted by Sean Clark.  He takes us around to the various locations used for The Howling and shows us what they are and look like today. (New for this edition!)

Making a Monster Movie: Inside The Howling- (Run time of 8 minutes) Different clips of various cast and crew members discussing the making of The Howling. (Ported over from the MGM The Howling Special Edition DVD released in 2003.)

Interview with Stop Motion Animator David Allen– (Run time of 9 minutes) Interview with Stop Motion Animator David Allen. Nice details on the movement of the werewolves instead of using actors in a suit.

Unleashing the Beast: Making of The Howling- (Run time of 48 minutes) Same multi-part documentary ported over from the MGM The Howling Special Edition DVD released in 2003.

  • Deleted Scenes with Film Audio
  • Deleted Scenes with Commentary
  • Outtakes
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Poster & Still Gallery
  • Discs: 1
  • Format: NTSC
  • Color: Color
  • Rating: R
  • Aspect Ratio: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.85:1)
  • Language: English

The Verdict

Shout!/Scream Factory once again shows why they are at the top of the food chain when it comes to releasing special editions of horror classics to the masses! While some older films do not handle the transfer from standard def to high def, Scream Factory more than makes sure that the film does not suffer any quality issues.  The colors are nice and bold, the sound is rich and best of all, the FX work does not suffer going to a higher definition.

The special features are a nice addition to the disc as well. While we get the original commentary, “Making a Monster Movie: Inside The Howling” and “Unleashing the Beast: Making of The Howling” from the 2003 MGM The Howling: Special Edition, we also get a brand new commentary from Author Gary Brander, Howling’s Eternal, Cut to Shreds and the Horror’s Hallowed Grounds as fresh material.

With the inclusion of all of the special features, the Blu-Ray does not feel like the same tired retreads that we get from lots of DVD companies these days. A good buy for regular horror fans and a must buy for werewolf fans everywhere, make sure to pick up your copy of The Howling soon!

Movie Rating: 4 out of 5
DVD Rating: 10 out of 10

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