August 2, 2013

Blu-ray Essentials: The Howling (1981)

When it comes to buying horror movies on Blu-ray, we have one issue; we already own so many horror movies on DVD, that upgrading them all to Blu-ray would cost a small fortune. There are some titles that we have to own in the best format available however, and so we open to you our Blu-ray Archives, which consist of what we consider to be Must Own Horror & Genre Blu-ray's.

The Howling (1981)
Scream Factory (Shout! Factory)
Price: $18.58-$24.99 (Amazon)
Discs: 1 50 GB Blu-ray Disc
Video: 1080p
1.86:1 AR
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1/2.0
Subtitles: English
Region A

Because it's one of the 2 best Werewolf movies ever made*, that's why. *Sure, that's all subject to debate, but come on... truly great Werewolf flicks are a rare, rare bird, and you know this.

To finally have this classic Joe Dante flick on Blu-ray is a truly wonderful thing. Along with An American Werewolf in London, The Howling is widely regarded (and rightly so) as one of the best Lycanthrope movies ever made. It's full of dark humor, boasts some of the best Werewolf transformation effects ever filmed, and it's a great, nostalgia-filled trip back to the 80's, when Horror flicks felt like more of an art form than just simple movies.

What really made this movie for me, was Robert Picardo's portrayal of Eddie Quist; the troubled Werewolf that gets the lions share of awesome on screen gags. The "Come on, bright boy!" scene is one of my all-time faves, Horror flick or otherwise.

I've seen him in tons of things since The Howling, and never realized that he was the man behind Eddie Quist.
The video transfer is a solid one. It's crisp, colorful, and immersive; It's really the best that the film has ever looked on any format. You can see that some DNR was applied here and there, which doesn't bother us all that much, but Videophiles may find it distracting. We're just glad to have a gorgeous transfer that looks like "new," and makes the visuals of the film pop like they never have before. Overall this transfer isn't perfect, but it's close enough for us.

Those of you who are rocking a surround-sound system will love the audio transfer that Scream Factory has given us here. It's not only clear and sharp in most parts, but to hear a bunch of creepy howls in the night coming from different speakers all at once, really adds to the feel of the movie. The transformation scenes sound particularly sharp here too, rips, tears, cracks and all. Overall, the movie sounds great.

Shout Factory excels at jamming their Collector's Edition's full of extras, and this disc is no exception. The Howlings Eternal documentary and the commentary track with Joe Dante and his cast were our faves. It's all great stuff, especially for die hard fans of this flick.
  • Howlings Eternal with Steven A. Lane (1080p; 18:49)
  • Cut to Shreds with Editor Mark Goldblatt (1080p; 11:20)
  • Interview with Co-writer Terrence Winkless (1080i; 12:32)
  • Horror's Hallowed Ground: A Look at the Film's Locations (1080p; 12:15)
  • Making a Monster Movie: Inside The Howling (1080p; 8:01)
  • Interview with Stop Motion Animator David Allen (1080i; 8:48)
  • Unleashing the Beast - The Making of The Howling (480p; 48:33)
  • Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary (1080i; 11:29)
  • Outtakes (1080p; 7:03)
  • Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 1:28)
  • Photo Gallery (1080p; 7:02)
  • Audio Commentary with Director Joe Dante, Actors Dee Wallace, Christopher Stone and Robert Picardo.
  • Audio Commentary with Author Gary Brandner
I never realized that she was such a goody-goody until watching/listening to these special features.
If you love this flick, you're crazy not to own this version of it. Blu-ray is the best format to view our old faves in, and none do it better these days than do the folks over at Scream Factory. This is as extensive a BD release as this movie is ever likely to get, so it's a no-brainer to add it to any good Horror collection.

Get it, y'all.

4 out of 5 Blu Masters.
The late, great Elisabeth Brooks broke many a heart back in her day, and just might be the sexiest Werewolf to have ever existed. She's truly great in this one.


  1. I just watched it again, thanks to you. It was so forgettable to me that only at the last scene I remembered I've seen it (a trilzion years ago).

    What is it with the American fascination with small towns and isolated places where nothing good happens, yet all city folk seem to happily go there? Is it a sort of lemming syndrome? Just stay out of the pool, so to speak.

    Anyway, I don't disagree with you that it may be one of the best werewolf movies, but that's just because all of them suck really bad.

  2. Plenty of "Foreign" Horror does that too though. Eden Lake, Wold Creek, Them, Fritt Vilt... it's jsut an easy plot device to get most slasher/survival Horror flicks going, I guess.

    And most do suck. American Werewol din London, The Howling, Dog Soldiers... Those are the only ones that come to mind when I think of "good" ones. Maybe Wolfen.

    Tough sub-genre.

  3. Dog Soldiers really was good, I agree (and it starred Tommy from Trainspotting). We get all these werewolf/vampire/zombie flicks and sometimes a combination thereof, but nothing else. Invent your own creature, damn it! Or at least use something else: trolls, thale, leprechauns (although I admit only Irish people would make that work), etc.

    Personally I would love a horror-darkcomedy with tanukis, but that's just me. Or can you imagine a horror with Inuyasha style demons? Just take your pick:

    My point is that there should not be a werewolf subgenre to begin with.

  4. Tiny off-topic, but this discussion with you spurred a quest for werewolf movies. How about one filmed in Romania? Wolf Girl (2001). Watched it yesterday and, even if it is a low budget movie and not really about werewolves, I found it pretty good.

  5. Wolf Girl.. havent heard of that one, I'll have to go and Google it right now..