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directed by Joe Dante
USA 1981

 

This groundbreaking, darkly comic horror film from director Joe Dante changed the look and feel of werewolf movies in ways light-years distant from Universal's horror classic The Wolf Man. The story begins with television reporter/anchor Karen White (Dee Wallace) taking part in a dangerous police operation intended to trap psychopath Eddie Quist (Robert Picardo). When confronted by Eddie face to face, she witnesses something horrifying enough to trigger selective amnesia. Plagued by a series of violent nightmares, Karen decides to admit herself to a posh recovery resort known only as "The Colony," run by her eccentric New Age therapist, Dr. Waggner (Patrick MacNee), and brings along her husband, Bill (Christopher Stone), for support. The night after they arrive, Karen and Bill are unnerved by eerie howling in the woods.

Back in the city, Karen's co-workers Chris (Dennis Dugan) and Terry (Belinda Balaski) have been investigating Eddie's background after discovering that his body has disappeared from the morgue. Sifting through Eddie's possessions, they find a strange collection of artwork depicting wolf-like creatures, and decide to consult with Walter Paisley (Dick Miller, of course), the owner of an occult bookshop, on werewolf lore. Though he claims not to believe in the stuff he's selling, Paisley nevertheless convinces Chris to purchase a handful of silver bullets...just in case.

Back at the colony, Dr. Waggner has organized a hunting party after hearing Karen's account of the nocturnal howling, but the men find nothing but a rabbit, which Bill is told to bring to the cabin of the sultry Marsha (Elisabeth Brooks) to prepare for dinner. After resisting Marsha's less-than-subtle sexual overtures, Bill is attacked by a wolf while returning to his cabin. The following moonlit night, the sleepless Bill wanders outside to find Marsha waiting and the two make love by the campfire, their bodies undergoing a frightening transformation. Just as Karen is beginning to suspect that her husband is hiding a secret far more threatening than marital infidelity, Chris and Terry have come to realize -- too late, in Terry's case -- that Eddie Quist is not only still alive, but not quite human...and he knows he's being followed. Chris arrives at the colony too late to save Terry, but manages to find Karen just as the colony's residents -- all of whom are werewolves, including Dr. Waggner -- are assembling to decide her fate.

Dante fills his film with heartfelt homages to The Wolf Man and other classic horror movies, as well as a few clever visual puns and in-jokes from his tenure with Roger Corman, but never strays from the path to genuine horror, particularly when Rob Bottin's chilling monsters are onscreen.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: 10 April 1981 (USA)

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Comparison:

MGM Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC vs. MGM Home Entertainment (Special Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas and Gary Tooze for the Screen Caps!

1)MGM Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT

2)MGM Home Entertainment (Special Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

MGM Home Entertainment

Region 1 - NTSC

MGM Home Entertainment
Region 1 - NTSC
 Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:30:33 1:30:36 1:30:51.487
Video

1.82:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.6 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.80:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.4 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 48,209,534,131 bytes

Feature: 25,393,403,904 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.49 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

MGM Home Entertainment

 

Bitrate:

 

MGM Home Entertainment (Special Edition)

 

Bitrate:

 

Shout! Factory Blu-ray 

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono

English Dolby Digital 5.1; English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3328 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3328 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1582 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1582 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentaries:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1586 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1586 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1699 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1699 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

Subtitles English HoH, French, Spanish, none English HoH, French, Spanish, none English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: MGM Home Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.82:1

Edition Details:
• Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 1:27)

DVD Release Date: 28 August 2001
Amaray

Chapters 16
 

Release Information:
Studio: MGM Home Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.80:1

Edition Details:
• SIDE A:
• 16:9 widescreen and 4:3 fullscreen versions
• Audio Commentary by director Joe Dante and actors Dee Wallace Stone, Christopher Stone, and Robert Picardo
• EASTER EGG: Interview with Dick Miller (4:3; 3:30)
• SIDE B:
• 'Unleashing The Beast' documentary (4:3; 54:06)
• 'Making A Monster Movie: Inside THE HOWLING' featurette (1981 Promo Making-Of) (4:3; 8:01)
• Deleted Scenes (4:3; 9:31)
• Outtakes (4:3; 5:18)
• 2 Photo Galleries
• Trailer 1 (4:3; 2:16)
• Trailer 2 (16:9; 1:32)
• Trailers for THE FOG, CARRIE, and JEEPERS CREEPERS
• Collectible Booklet and Embossed Slipcover

 

DVD Release Date: 26 August 2003
Amaray

Chapters 32

Release Information:
Studio: Shout! Factory

 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 48,209,534,131 bytes

Feature: 25,393,403,904 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.49 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary by director Joe Dante and actors Dee Wallace Stone, Christopher Stone, and Robert Picardo
• Audio Commentary with source novel author Gary Brandner (moderated by Michael Felsher)
• 'Howling Eternal' interview with producer Steven A. Lane (18:49)
• 'Cut to Shreds' interview with editor Mark Goldblatt (11:20)
• Interview with co-writer Terence H. Winkless (12:32)
• 'Horror's Hallowed Grounds' visit to the locations (12:15)
• 'Making a Monster Movie: Inside THE HOWLING' featurette (8:01)
• Interview with stop-motion effects artist David Allen (8:48)
• 'Unleashing the Beast' documentary (48:33)
• Deleted Scenes with optional director commentary (11:29)
• Outtakes (7:03)
• Theatrical Trailer (1:28)
• Photo Gallery
• EASTER EGG: Interview with Dick Miller (3:38)

 

Blu-ray Release Date: June 18th, 2013
Blu-ray
in Slipcase

Chapters 18

 

Comments

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

 

ADDITION: Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray (June 2013): Shout! Factory's new 1080P transfer looks significantly different from the older MGM DVDs (which both look the same to me). Skin tones cool on the Blu-ray but there is a heavy greenish tinge to the visuals (especially the darker scenes). Early and mid 80s films seem fraught with these types of issues generally indicating the less-stable film stock used in that period. It doesn't look bad - and for all I know is accurate. The HD certainly improves beyond the SD with superior contrast supporting sharper detail. The image quality shows some thickness and despite its inferiorities seems a strong replication of the original with tighter colors, more pure whites, no artefacts or noise and some pleasing film grain. It is imperfect but I feel confident that this is the best it can look at present.

 

Dante's The Howling is filled with audio effects and we get the option of two DTS-HD Master tracks - a surround 5.1 at 3328 kbps or a similarly robust 2.0 channel stereo. I opted for the surround and heard some decent separation and the 'howls' had abundant depth. Maybe not always as head-turning-ly crisp as you might desire but the bass response in the 5.1 has intensity. The score is by Pino Donaggio - who has done notable work with De Palms including Carrie, Dressed to Kill and Blow Out. It exports tension at every turn and definitely benefits from the lossless rendering. There are optional English subtitles (sample below) on the region 'A' Blu-ray disc.

 

 

Shout! Factory have added a number of supplements to their Blu-ray package. We get the same audio commentary by director Joe Dante and actors Dee Wallace Stone, Christopher Stone, and Robert Picardo as found on the 2003 DVD but also another, second, commentary with source novel author Gary Brandner (moderated by Michael Felsher.) There are a few featurettes produced by Shout! Factory and Red Shirt like the 19-minute 'Howling Eternal' interview with producer Steven A. Lane and 'Cut to Shreds' - an 11-minute interview with editor Mark Goldblatt. We also get a 12-minute interview with co-writer Terence H. Winkless and an equal amount of time visiting the filming locations entitled 'Horror's Hallowed Grounds'. 'Making a Monster Movie: Inside THE HOWLING' is a short 8-minute featurette and a 9-minute piece with stop-motion effects artist David Allen. We get the lengthy 50-minute  'Unleashing the Beast' documentary found on the old SE as well as deleted scenes (optional commentary), Outtakes, a Theatrical Trailer and Photo Gallery.

 

I'm inclined to agree with Jonathan Rosenbaum - that Joe Dante is a national treasure. he seems to encapsulate all the inner child spookiness in his films. The Howling is a hoot and the Blu-ray is an incredible package. For horror fans this amount to a must-own, IMO. Recommended! Enjoy!

 - Gary Tooze

 


 Menus
(MGM Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. MGM Home Entertainment (Special Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT
 

 

 

 

 Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 


 CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample

 

 

Screen Captures

 

1) MGM Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) MGM Home Entertainment (Special Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3)  Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1)MGM Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2)MGM Home Entertainment (Special Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1)MGM Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2)MGM Home Entertainment (Special Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1)MGM Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2)MGM Home Entertainment (Special Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1)MGM Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2)MGM Home Entertainment (Special Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1)MGM Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2)MGM Home Entertainment (Special Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1)MGM Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2)MGM Home Entertainment (Special Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

 


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras: Blu-ray

 
Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

MGM Home Entertainment

Region 1 - NTSC

MGM Home Entertainment
Region 1 - NTSC
 Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 




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