This Week in 1981: 'The Howling' Transforms Horror Movies
1981 was a good year for werewolves. Thirty summers ago, we saw 'Wolfen' and 'An American Werewolf in London,' but even before those, on April 10, 1981, there was 'The Howling,' the innovative and influential movie that kicked off a werewolf vogue that persists to this day.
The film, about a traumatized woman ('80s horror mainstay Dee Wallace) who takes refuge in a remote woodland resort that turns out to be populated by werewolves, was notable for its frightening makeup effects. Rob Bottin brought an unprecedented realism (if that's the right word) to the movie's werewolf transformation scenes, even before the more celebrated work by his mentor, Rick Baker, appeared in 'London' a few months later. The movie also updated the mythology a bit. Silver bullets are still key, but here, the wolves are shapeshifters who can transform at will (no waiting for the full moon). Also, 'The Howling' has what may be the first wolf-on-wolf sex scene.