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Default Howling, The (R2, PAL)




Reviewer: Dave
Review Date: February 22, 2001

Released by: Bride Picture
Release date: 12/2000
MSRP: $??.??
Region 2, PAL
Widescreen 1.66:1 | 16x9: No



The Howling has yet to make it to domestic DVD, though MGM is planning a bare bones DVD for release here in the US in late 2001. In the meantime, horror fans have the domestic laserdisc to enjoy, as well as what's being reviewed here - the recently released Region 2, PAL DVD from The Netherlands. Sadly, this DVD has no extras to speak of, and the MGM DVD isn't scheduled to have ANY of the wonderful extras from the laserdisc release! For those that can't wait, lets take a closer look at the Region 2 DVD of The Howling.

The Story

inline Image Karen White (Dee Wallace Stone) is a TV newswoman who's been contacted by a serial killer by the name of Eddie (Robert Picardo). Karen agrees to meet Eddie at a public location - a pornography store in the middle of the city. Little does Eddie know that Karen has teamed up with the police who are planning on using the opportunity to catch Eddie. But before police can determine where the meeting is going to take place, they lose Karen's signal. Karen goes in thinking the police will be there soon after, but the police only have a general idea of the area she's in. She enters one of the sex rooms as the back of the store; waiting inside is Eddie. Eventually he starts to attack her, but before he can do much the police arrive just in time and shoot Eddie dead. Karen has survived the ordeal and heads home with her husband Bill (Christopher Stone).

inline Image The nightmare may be over for the police in regards to Eddie, but for Karen it has just begun. She's haunted with visions of the attack to such an extent that she can't even make love to her husband or work in front of the camera. Karen begins therapy with Dr. George Waggner (Patrick Macnee), who suggests she take some time off and go recharge her batteries at his relaxation colony up in the woods. She takes his advice and heads up to the colony with Bill. Meanwhile, Christopher (Dennis Dugan) and Terry (Belinda Balaski) - two friends of Karen's that are fellow news reporters for the station - begin investigating the trail Eddie left behind.

inline Image Karen and Bill arrive at the colony and start off their r&r by attending a barbecue the residents of the colony are having on the beach. Bill isn't much for barbecues since he's a vegetarian, but it gives them a chance to introduce themselves. The next day the two begin to enjoy themselves - Karen plays tennis with a friend and Bill soon goes hunting with the boys and catches himself a rabbit. He has Marsha (Elisabeth Brooks), a resident at the colony, cook up the rabbit for him. When she makes a move on him he quickly pushes her away and heads back to his cabin. On his way back he's attacked by a wolf. He survives the attack but is left with some deep wounds on his arm. Between the attack and some noises she's been hearing out in the woods, Karen is freaked out. She calls home to Chris and Terry, who promise to come up and stay with her. Chris and Terry found many drawings wolf-like drawings in Eddie's apartment. During their investigation they visited a book store where they find lots of information on werewolf folklore. Terry ends up going alone while Chris tries to pitch a special on the life of Eddie to their boss.

inline Image Terry arrives at the colony and later that night she hears lots of howling wolves. As she begins investigating areas of the colony the next morning, she's attacked by a werewolf. She manages to escape into a nearby building, and has just enough time to call Chris and tell him what's happening. But before long the werewolf shows up and takes care of her for good. When Karen stumbles across Terry's body, she begins to discover the truth about the colony and many of its inhabitants. Now that she knows, can she make it out of the colony alive? Her only hope is Chris, who is on his way up with a pocket full of silver bullets. Will that be enough to stop a mob of bloodthirsty werewolves?


inline Image Director Joe Dante did an incredible job creating a very dark, scary and unique werewolf movie with The Howling. Though I do prefer An American Werewolf in London, The Howling takes a very close second place. Certainly The Howling is a much, much darker and scarier than Werewolf in London, but I loved Werewolf in London's wonderful story, special effects and the character development that really makes you care about the characters. While many characters are likable in The Howling, I didn't find myself caring for them as much. Overall the effects in An American Werewolf in London are superior, but I think The Howling has the best transformation scene. The Howling also lets you see more of the werewolf throughout the movie which is nice.

inline Image The Howling doesn't go to the level of humor found in Werewolf in London, and as I said it is a much darker movie, but don't let get you into thinking The Howling is humorless. Not the case at all - there's a few spots of humor to be seen throughout the movie. One I enjoyed quite a bit is when Terry is being attached by the werewolf and she calls Chris on the phone. When the movie cuts to Chris you see that he's watching a big bad wolf cartoon playing on his TV. So here you have this tense moment in the movie when Terry is being stalked by a werewolf, yet at the same time a dose of humor is injected when you see this big bad wolf cartoon playing on the TV. It works nicely; it gets you to let your guard down slightly, which may weaken your defenses for what's to come. There's other humorous scenes too, but part of the enjoyment is finding them on your own. I can see where many people might enjoy The Howling as it mostly sticks to a straight horror movie, except for a few small jokes thrown in occasionally that are often not even noticeable. If you goal is to get scared or to scare someone else, I think The Howling does a better job with the scaring aspect.

inline Image I also like how Dante dealt with the characters personalities in terms of knowing that they were a werewolf. In most werewolf movies the characters don't want to be a werewolf and their only desire is to end the curse. These people weren't upset about it and they didn't feel like it was a curse - they act as if it's a blessing to be a werewolf. What it boils down to is that they're evil people that are shapeshifters. They enjoy hunting, killing and eating humans, just as many humans enjoy hunting, killing, and eating deer. The rules are slightly different here too. They don't only change when the moon is full. These werewolves will change whenever they damn well please - middle of the day or the middle of the night, it's no matter to them. All of these elements combined - wonderful effects, good acting, a good plot, and its uniqueness - make The Howling the classic werewolf movie that it is.

inline Image From what I hear, most of The Howling sequels are quite bad. I've only seen the New Moon Rising sequel, which I imagine is the worst sequel ever created in the history of sequels. I may checkout the other sequels though because I've always heard mixed opinions on them, plus it's always best to judge for yourself. But make no mistake, the two best werewolf films ever created were made in the early 80's - An American Werewolf in London and The Howling. If you haven't seen them, crawl out of the hole you're been living in and go buy them today! VHS, DVD or laserdisc - whatever it takes to see them.

Image Quality

inline Image The Howling is presented in an non-anamorphic widescreen transfer in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio. I expected either a similar transfer to the Image laserdisc or one that was a bit weaker. To my surprise, I found the image on this DVD to be slightly superior to the Image laserdisc. In fairness, I should point out that the laserdisc was released in 1995 and the DVD in 2001. You'd expect the DVD to be superior given the time difference, but this is an import DVD, and the quality always varies on them. The biggest difference is the lack of print blemishes on the DVD when compared to the laserdisc. The image is a bit sharper on the DVD as well, though there's still various nighttime scenes that are soft and lacking in detail. Colors are slightly faded and flesh tones come across a bit pale, but I think those problems are partially due to an even bigger problem - the entire image on this DVD is consistently too bright. It's especially noticeable during scenes with fire - the middle of the flames are so bright that is hurts to look at them. MPEG artifacts are minimal, but they are visible in a few dozen scenes. The various fog scenes hold up surprisingly well, having little or no artifacts appear.

I'm going to rate the DVD image quality slightly higher than the laserdisc - a C for the DVD, whereas the LD scored a C-. I have to say, though, that I still prefer the image on the laserdisc. I feel it has a more accurate representation of colors and flesh tones - two very important aspects of image quality. On the other hand, the DVD is a bit sharper and has hardly any blemishes - another very important aspect of image quality. When I way each, those are the grades I come up with. Personally, I'd take the laserdiscs' blemishes and softer image over the DVDs' MPEG artifacts and brighter image.

Sound

The sound is in Stereo. No distortion or back noises are evident, and dialogue was clear. Sound seems to be identical to that on the laserdisc, though the laserdisc is presented in mono. Really the only difference I could hear is that the score on the DVD is a bit louder and has more impact.

Supplemental Material

inline Image No extras, unfortunately. Be sure to read The Howling laserdisc review to see what you're missing!

Final Thoughts

One of the best werewolf movies ever that all horror fans must see! DVD is decent in the audio/video department, but sadly there aren't any extras. Not even a stinking trailer! Hey, at least the MGM DVD will have a theatrical trailer! D'oh! Anyway, if you can hold out for the MGM DVD, I'd suggest you do so. Chances it will have a superior image compared to both the R2 DVD and the Image laserdisc. Unfortunately, at the moment, the MGM isn't scheduled to have ANY of the extensive supplements found on The Howling laserdisc. Meaning Howling laserdisc owners should still hang onto that gem of a disc!

Rating

Movie - A-
Image Quality - C
Sound - B+
Supplements - N/A

Technical Info.
  • Color
  • Rated 16
  • 1 Disc
  • 8 Chapter Stops
  • English Dolby Digital Stereo

Supplements
  • N/A

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