Day #219: The Howling (1981)

Synopsis:

[From IMDb:] After a bizarre and near fatal encounter with a serial killer, a television newswoman is sent to a remote mountain resort whose residents may not be what they seem.

My take:

I’d completely forgotten how intense the beginning of this movie is. After being forced to watch bondage/rape porn by a serial killer during a sting gone wrong, Karen White (Dee Wallace) then witnesses his death at the hands of a trigger happy police officer who could’ve quite easily killed her in the process.

Yikes. We haven’t even got to the werewolf stuff at this point.

I’d also completely forgotten how misogynistic at least some of the characters are. After the serial killer is shot, the adult store clerk says something like, “I knew I shouldn’t have let a broad in here”. After a clearly traumatised Karen is led off-screen after having what appears to be a PTSD-related panic attack, her boss is all, “I don’t know, maybe she’s pregnant or something”.

I like to think this is what Karen would have said to them if given the chance.

I like to think this is what Karen would have said to them if given the chance.

The movie meanders around a bit in the middle, as the audience receives information about werewolves from secondary characters, while Karen and her husband (Christopher Stone) mingle with the locals and get introduced to some of the local customs – like hunting, being hunted, and having affairs with women casually wearing leather dresses.

Y’know, country stuff.

There’s some more werewolfy stuff that goes on, which employs the use of special effects that veer between “I bought this costume at a $2 shop” and stuff that actually looks pretty cool, where Belinda Balaski has an opportunity to bring some scream queenery to the movie; and then some more men treat Karen shittily, which is a close second when it comes to the overarching theme of this movie.

Hmph.

In contrast to my usual take on movie endings, I think that The Howling has a fantastic ending. It seems to push back against the way that Karen has been characterised and treated throughout the movie. It shows her taking some control, which her character sorely lacks throughout the movie.

[Spoiler alert] It’s just too bad they had to make her look like a shih tzu. [Spoiler alert]

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