Dee Wallace is an intrepid TV reporter who tracks down a serial killer, and is almost killedfor her troubles. Traumatized, she withdraws to a rural resort, which at first seems idyllic.Gradually, evidence mounts that she is in fact staying in the middle of a werewolf colony. Stillone of the more satisfying werewolf films yet made (though Ginger Snaps has arguablycaptured the crown for best ever), Joe Dante’s film is a delight not only for the grislytransformations, b…t also as an in-joke treasure trove for genre fans. Not only are most of thecharacters named after previous werewolf film directors, but the cast is packed with horror andSF stars from the past.
The sound comes in both the original mono (which was the only option on the original DVDrelease) and new 5.1 surround. The enhancement works very well. There are no surround voiceflaws (though the dialogue sound quality does betray the film’s age), and the music is givensterling treatment. The sound effects are relatively low key, but there is some very solidenvironment creation nonetheless. Certainly one of the more successful mono-to-surroundconversions I’ve encountered.
Both fullscreen and widescreen formats are provided. The documentary clearly shows thatthe film’s original ratio is 1.85:1, as stated on the case, but what you actually get is 1.78:1, whichis a bit of a cheat. The opening scenes are rather murky as well (though this might now be a faultof the transfer itself). On the other hand, the flesh tones are good, and the blacks are terrific. Thecontrasts and colours become very good as you move into the film.
Side A offers a commentary track by director Joe Dante and stars Dee Wallace Stone,Christopher Stone, and Robert Picardo. The round table talk frequently degenerates into silliness,though it remains fairly scene specific and there is plenty of interesting information here. A bitmore serious is the hour-long documentary “Unleashing the Beast” on Side B. Divided into fiveparts, this is an examination of the film from conception to reception, and is good stuff. “Makinga Monster Movie” is a promo featurette from 1981. Also on Side B: a deleted scenes montage;an outtakes reel; 2 theatrical trailers; publicity photos; production photos; and trailers for theSpecial Edition DVDs of The Fog, Carrie and Jeepers Creepers. There arealso some liner notes. The menu’s is animated and scored down to the Special Features page(though the other secondary pages are silent and still).
I can’t help but wish that The Howling had been released in this format the first timearound. But better late than never.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- “Unleashing the Beast” Making The Howling” Documentary
- “Making a Monster Movie: Inside The Howling” Featurette
- Deleted Scenes
- Theatrical Trailers
- Publicity Stills
- Production Photos
- Liner Notes
- Bonus Trailers