The Howling - A look back

Steve Withers

As any horror fan can tell you, 1981 was the Great Year of the Werewolf Movie. Michael Wadleigh’s awesome Wolfen may not have actually boasted wolf-men running about their New York hunting ground, but it’s terrifying atmosphere and adherence to Indian shape-shifting mythology and pack ofgenuine lupine stars puts the film firmly on the furry map. Low-budget horror auteur Larry Cohen uncharacteristically fumbled the ball when he brought us the howling japes of Full Moon High, though. But, most famously, this was the year that saw the two modern classics of the genre go almost snout-to-elongating-snout at the box office in a rip ‘em up riot of contorting bodies, savaged flesh and much howling at the Moon. Joe Dante’s The Howling just beat John Landis’ An American Werewolf In London to a release and brought the new breed of special makeup effects to a stunned audience first, launching prosthetic wunderkind, and new kid on the block (literally … he was only twenty-one) Rob Bottin upon an unsuspecting world … and opened the floodgates to the joys of stretchy latex, pulsating air-bladders, latex, chango-heads, latex, animatronics and yet more latex.

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