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The Howling 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray (1981) - 4k Review

The Howling 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray

Primal terror has never looked this good before!

Writer/Director Joe Dante (Gremlins) humorously takes on America’s culture of violence with 1981’s The Howling.  Manically led by a charging performance from Patrick Macnee (BBC’s The Avengers), The Howling and Dante – alongside Jon LandisAn American Werewolf in London – singlehandedly revolutionized the stale werewolf picture, rescuing it from its creaky past with humor, thrills, and cameos galore.  Dante’s The Howling remains a cult favorite because it nails the hair-raising scares required to muzzle the laughter.

"hits hard with scares and self-aware, satirical laughs"


Dee Wallace stars as Karen White, a Los Angeles television news anchor who is being stalked by a serial murderer named Eddie Quist (Robert Picardo).  When an ambush goes awry and she’s actually attacked by her stalker, she and her husband Bill Neill (Christopher Stone) are sent – by her therapist, Dr. George Waggner (Macnee) - to "The Colony", a secluded resort in the countryside filled with the most interesting type of folks, for recovery.

With a just-in-the-nick-of-time performance from John Carradine and cameos from Slim Pickens, Dick Miller, Roger Corman, John Sayles, and Forrest J. Ackerman, the wolves descend on the unsuspecting and the “rest and recovery” is over for Karen and company.  Bill is bitten and seduced by Marsha Quist (Elisabeth Brooks) and begins transforming by firelight in the dead of night.  When Karen’s friend, Terri Fisher (Belinda Balaski), is summoned to The Colony, the whole truth is revealed, and the truth of The Howling begins to unravel.  There is no rest for the wicked, it seems.

Loosely based on the 1977 novel by Gary Brandner, The Howling is its own self-referential beast entirely.  Dante and Sayles co-authored the script with the same tone that they lathered their previous collaboration, Piranha, with.  The result is the same.  The Howling hits hard with scares and self-aware, satirical laughs.  It also launched six sequels, with The Howling II: Youe Sister is a Werewolf starring Christopher Lee being the most notable.The Howling 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray

It can’t be denied that what made The Howling the most famous for filmgoers back in the day was the initial transformation scene of Stone’s.  While practical effects artist Rob Bottin tops himself with Picardo’s head bubbling transformation scene, the film never – narratively, that is – recovers from the magic of practical special effects.  These scenes are long and focused and never shy with what part of the human anatomy they show shape shifting as men and women turn into their werewolf state.  The Howling also features stop-motion animation by notable animator David W. Allen, and puppetry intended to give the werewolves an even more non-human look to them.

Dante would perfect everything about tone with his hit comedy/horror film Gremlins, but The Howling is the necessary steppingstone in Hollywood.  Without this, you don’t get the gift of Gizmo.  It’s that simple.  And, if you are a child of the 70s, then I’m sure the film has enough memories of its own to make this release from Scream Factory a perfect night at home.  It might not always follow the established rules of werewolf lore due to the fact that the animals can change at will, but that only makes it more exciting … and unpredictable.

Enjoy The Howling’s laughter and its slaughter.  I dare you

5/5 beers

 

The Howling 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray

4k details divider

4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray

Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray
- February 15, 2022
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set
Region Encoding: 4K region-free; blu-ray lokced to Region A

Karen White (Dee Wallace-Stone) is a television news anchor who is being stalked by a serial murderer named Eddie Quist. In cooperation with the police, she takes part in a scheme to capture Eddie by agreeing to meet him in a sleazy porno theater. Eddie forces Karen to watch a video of a young woman being raped, and when Karen turns around to see Eddie she screams. The police enter and shoot Eddie, and although Karen is safe, she suffers amnesia. Her therapist, Dr. George Waggner (Patrick Macnee), decides to send her and her husband, Bill Neill (Christopher Stone), to "The colony", a secluded resort in the countryside where he sends patients for treatment.

Video:

The Howling is presented on 4K Ultra HD thanks to a stunning new 4K restoration from Studio Canal with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.86:1. This is a significant upgrade from the previous edition, with better clarity, improved contrast and more robust color. Oh, the neon!  Colors are bold and energetic with rich saturation in the primaries, adding to the film's sly self-aware sense of humor. Black levels are true and accurate for the most part with some of the best moments taking place at night. Shadow details are very well-defined, allowing fans to really appreciate the special effects work of Rob Bottin and the amazing transformation scene. Generally speaking, this is a really nice-looking high-definition presentation that makes a few minor missteps, none of them fatal.

Audio:

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 gets the fur flying!  Crank up those howls and enjoy the solid sound design!

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Ported over from MGM’s original DVD release is a great audio commentary between Joe Dante and actors Robert Picardo, Dee Wallace, and Christopher Stone.  This is a must-listen for fans.  There is also a commentary with novelist Gary Brandner.

Special Features:

The disc is housed inside a blue, eco-elite case with brand new reversible cover art and a cardboard slipcover.  Hats off (once again) to Scream! Factory for giving a beloved horror film from the deluxe blu-ray treatment.  You get a good mix of the old - including a solid 50-minute making-of piece called "Unleashing the Beast," an 8-minute archival piece, and a batch of outtakes, trailers, and photos – and the new.  The brand-new featurettes include deleted scenes (with optional Dante commentary); an episode of Horror's Hallowed Grounds in which host Sean Clark offers a quick and amusing modern glance at the exteriors used back in 1981, and some rather fascinating interviews with stop-motion animator Dave Allen, editor Mark Goldblatt, and co-writer Terence Winkless. This is another GREAT visual upgrade for Horror Hounds.

  • Howlings Eternal with Steven A. Lane (19 min)
  • Cut to Shreds with Editor Mark Goldblatt (12 min)
  • Interview with Co-writer Terrence Winkless (13 min)
  • Horror's Hallowed Ground: A Look at the Film's Locations (12 min)
  • Making a Monster Movie: Inside The Howling (8 min)
  • Interview with Stop Motion Animator David Allen (9 min)
  • Unleashing the Beast - The Making of The Howling (49 min)
  • Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary (11 min)
  • Outtakes (7 min)
  • Theatrical Trailer (1 min)
  • Photo Gallery (7 min)

4k rating divider

  Movie 5/5 stars
  Video  5/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 5/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

3.5/5 stars


Film Details

The Howling 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
91 mins
Director
: Joe Dante
Writer:
John Sayles; Terence H. Winkless
Cast:
Dee Wallace; Patrick Macnee; Dennis Dugan
Genre
: Horror | Thriller
Tagline:
Beyond anything human.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Silver bullets my ass! Get up, T.C.!"
Theatrical Distributor:
AVCO Embassy Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
April 10, 1981
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
February 15, 2022.
Synopsis: After an intense confrontation with a serial killer, news anchor Karen White (Dee Wallace) is left traumatised and suffering from amnesia. In need of recovery, Karen takes refuge within "The Colony", a country retreat organised by her psychiatrist Dr Waggner (Patrick Macnee). But things at "The Colony" aren't as idyllic as they originally seemed and as blood curdling screams break the midnight silence, Karen's memories slowly begin to come into focus.

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The Howling 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray

 

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