Welcome to Delayed Perspective the blog about Film and TV and other random things I tenuously argue are related to the subject. The mission of Delayed Perspective is a self-defeating attempt to share with you my thoughts on the films and TV shows that have been out for a while and I have only just caught onto or caught up with.
Sometimes I will take a sideways look at a subject or sometimes I might do a straight up review, you never know, stranger things have happened.
This week’s DP is a film that has only been about for 32 years, so sit back and enjoy my long overdue assessment of Joe Dante’s horror classic The Howling;
Hey Isn’t That The Dude Who Played The Holographic Dr in Star Trek Voyager? (Why yes, yes it is)
A werewolf movie with the hilarious premise of a self-help group for werewolves is ahead of its time, and a sly barb at the Hollywood lifestyle. That the joke is carefully revealed as the film unfolds, whilst telling a very good story, makes this a classic of the genre.
Starring Dee Wallace (ET) and Robert Picardo (Star Trek Voyager) this is an early film from brilliant director Joe Dante and it displays what an innovative and instinctive filmmaker he is. Due to artistic, budgetary and practical reasons the full on werewolf transformation, that has made this movie so memorable, is saved until well over an hour into the film. Before then we are given deliberate delays and hints a plenty, all masterfully used by Dante to build up the suspense. When the moment finally arrives, and Picardo’s Eddie transforms it is a remarkable achievement in effects and is suitably gruesome. Dante experimented with frame rates to achieve some of the effects, a mere 31 years before Peter Jackson made the topic vogue.
Dante came on board as director for The Howling after the original director left the project and one of the first things he did was suggest his fellow “Corman school” graduate John Sayles re-write the screenplay and one of his creations, the colony, became central to the whole film. For those on the lookout for twists and turns, the truth behind the colony maybe easy to guess, nevertheless when the reveal comes it is still thrilling. The sense of unease building up to the revelation about the colonists is reminiscent of The Wicker Man and at points this film stylistically resembles Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This is no coincidence as Robert Burns, the production designer, worked on both films and helps to imbue The Howling design and set with a sense that some really bad shit is about to go down.
The Howling is scary and gripping because of Dante’s flair for choosing the right shot and his sparing use of effects, ensuring he wrings out every scare available for the budget he is working with. This film subverts the perceived concepts of werewolf lore and is a downbeat classic of the horror genre.
Next Week On Delayed Perspective – “Here’s looking at you kid”. A mere 71 years after the fact, Casablanca falls under my up to the minute gaze.