howling_2Reel Rewind is an occasional column in which I’ll revisit some of our favorite/overlooked films, bringing along artists that I can’t get enough of. We’ll team up for some fun collaborations and bridge the gap between film appreciation and art. This time we’re joined by artist David Moscati

Year: 1981
Director: Joe Dante
Writer(s): Gary Bradner (novel), John Sayles, Terence H, Winkless
Region of Origin: US
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
Rating: R
35mm, Color, 91 mins

Before dropping hits like Gremlins, Innerspace, The Burbs and more, director Joe Dante’s made a little film called The Howling. A staple to horror aficionados and just shy of mainstream obscurity, Dante’s take on werewolf mythos is a fun, bloody affair that takes its time to earn its carnage, offering up a psychological script and a beautiful score by legend Pino Donaggio. While it isn’t the strongest of its kind, the film is a great look back at when horror was more than just jump scares, replete with iconic pre-CGI creature transformations from Rob Bottin (The Thing, An American Werewolf In London) which are gleefully gory and still mostly unmatched to this day. Werewolf films are usually hit and miss, but this one excels thanks to its stunning visuals and a primal story about the animal inside of of us all, just waiting to break free.

The story begins with a famous television news anchor named Karen White being stalked by a possible serial killer. As it turns out, she’s part of an undercover operation to help Police find a stalker and end a bloody reign of terror. The sting leads to a seedy porno theater and ends with a shootout, resulting in the death of the suspect and amnesia for Karen. It’s then when her therapist, Dr. Waggner, sends Karen and her husband to a secluded countryside resort known only as “The Colony”, with hopes that she’ll heal from her trauma and remember what transpired that fateful night. Things get strange from here though, starting with a seeming wolf attack and some suspect colonists who seem to be hiding a dark secret. In reality, The Colony turns out to have a sinister connection to Karen’s botched sting, and what she discovers will change everything – spoilers: the colonists are werewolves!!!!

howling_1Most notable about the film is the way it strikes a balance between dark humor and psychological chills, all while bringing werewolf lore into 80s countryside culture. Similar to what Nightbreed would go on to explore (albeit much more successfully), there’s a bit of social commentary regarding counter culture and a metaphor for the urges that we try to suppress. Like the best werewolf films, this one makes nods to the nocturnal creatures’ mythological roots while modernizing them and giving them a relatable slant. There are layers of erotic and psychological tension, playing with Karen’s dissolving mental state and the paranoia that comes from her trauma. It is refreshing to see a horror film that isn’t in a hurry to get to the good stuff, and it delivers when if finally unleashes a torrent of grotesque, crimson chaos. I’m talking about werewolf sex, tons of body mutilation and even some good ol’ faithful silver bullets! All that, and it knows not to take itself too seriously.

The Howling is a solid time for horror fiends and then some. It knows its limitations and plays to its strengths in the best way, occasionally surprising us with the unexpected. There’s a lot of blood, brilliantly designed creatures and plenty of payoff in terms of story and thrills. With age, it’s held up pretty well, and is good especially when there’s a full moon out and you’re in the mood for a strong creature feature.

Crome Rating: 3.5/5

And here’s David’s poster! I love that he’s taken the restraint of the film’s first half  to deliver a moody composition that insinuates rather than shows. We’ve seen tons of werewolf posters out there, so it’s refreshing to see him use the abstract shapes and negative space to get the point across in more subtler ways. Read on below to hear his thoughts!


From David: At this point it’s no secret that I am a huge fan of horror films. And part of that love is an appreciation for the classics. There is a romanticized notion behind the cult horror genre. Maybe it’s the lack of CGI. Or maybe it’s the quality of film. Maybe a bit of both. All I know is that when I watch these movies, I feel immersed in its culture. It’s a certain quality and rawness in the cinematography and storytelling. The Howling is a perfect example of this. It doesn’t show you too much, but what it does show is amazing.

Contest time!! David’s been gracious enough to allow one of our readers an original one-off ink sketch of the Howling! To get an idea what it’ll look like, check out his Instagram or the images below for all of his Inktober sketches. These are great, and this is a chance to win something unique – he’ll even handle shipping charges! The final piece will be 5″ x 7″ and it’ll be signed! (Fine print: sketches below are an aesthetic example only, the prize will be a Howling related sketch of David’s choice.)


How to win: All you have to do is Tweet this post and tag @cromeyellowweb or email your favorite werewolf film! You have until Friday, Nov 7, and a random winner will be selected the next day! Good luck! Enter as many times as you want!

Thanks to David Moscati for the amazing art, visit his website, Twitter or Facebook for more!