The Howling

The Howling

Werewolves are among the most difficult monsters to get right onscreen. They lack the personality of vampires and the bone-chilling terror of zombies. Even so, a few filmmakers have managed to make terrifically effective werewolf movies. John Landis' An American Werewolf in London is certainly among the front ranks, as is Joe Dante's The Howling.

Originally released in 1981, The Howling stars Dee Wallace as TV news reporter Karen White. As the film opens, she ventures into L.A.'s porn district to meet the stranger who's been sending her disturbing messages. They have a terrifying confrontation inside a viewing booth, after which she develops amnesia regarding the incident. Her therapist, Dr. George Waggner (Patrick Macnee), sends Karen and husband Bill (Christopher Stone) to “the Colony,” a remote camp in the woods where he leads therapeutic encounters. Unbeknownst to her, initially, is that the Colony has werewolves poking around. Karen's journalistic instincts kick in, and she starts to investigate the strange occurrences going on around her. What she discovers is even more frightening than what happened in the porn shop.

The Howling is a cracking good horror film, anchored by strong performances. Rather than being a stereotypical female victim, Karen is smart, fierce, and formidable, even when she's vulnerable in the face of hairy beasts. The movie is also aided by groundbreaking special effects, which still look phenomenal today. Makeup wizard Rob Bottin developed a smoother, more convincing way to do werewolf transitions than had ever been seen before. Without a doubt, the showstopping moment comes when we spend several minutes watching a character morph into a wolf. This has to be one of the seminal moments in '80s horror.

Beyond that, the movie benefits from Joe Dante's distinctly off-kilter sense of humor. He packs his film with wolf references, including cans of Wolf brand chili sitting in the background of scenes, and a copy of Allen Ginsberg's “Howl” resting on a table. Many characters, including George Waggner, were named after directors who made werewolf movies. Cameos from producer Roger Corman and “Famous Monsters of Filmland” editor Forest J. Ackerman are incorporated in wonderfully humorous fashion.

Dante has always been a master of mixing horror and comedy - just look at Gremlins - and The Howling is surely one of his best works. A few moments look a bit outdated, but other than that, the picture maintains its impact. I don't think there's a better werewolf movie than this.

— Mike McGranaghan, The Aisle Seat

The Howling

Thu November 7, 2013, 7:30 only, VAC Basement Auditorium (1B20)

USA, 1981, in English, Color, 91 min, 1.66 : 1



10 films for $60 with punch card
$9 general admission. $7 w/UCB student ID, $7 for senior citizens
$1 discount to anyone with a bike helmet
Free on your birthday! CU Cinema Studies students get in free.


Pay lot 360 (now only $1/hour!), across from the buffalo statue and next to the Duane Physics tower, is closest to Muenzinger. Free parking can be found after 5pm at the meters along Colorado Ave east of Folsom stadium and along University Ave west of Macky.


Park elsewhere and catch the HOP to campus

International Film Series

(Originally called The University Film Commission)
Established 1941 by James Sandoe.

First Person Cinema

(Originally called The Experimental Cinema Group)
Established 1955 by Carla Selby, Gladney Oakley, Bruce Conner and Stan Brakhage.

C.U. Film Program

(AKA The Rocky Mountain Film Center)
First offered degrees in filmmaking and critical studies in 1989 under the guidance of Virgil Grillo.

Celebrating Stan

Created by Suranjan Ganguly in 2003.

C.U. Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts

Established 2017 by Chair Ernesto Acevedo-Muñoz.

Thank you, sponsors!
Boulder International Film Festival
Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts

Looking for a gift for a friend?
Buy a Frequent Patron Punch Card for $60 at any IFS show. With the punch card you can see ten films (a value of $90).

Virtual titles to stream from home

Cox & Kjølseth
: Filmmaker Alex Cox & Pablo Kjølseth discuss film topics from their own unique perspectives.

: Pablo and Ana share Zoom-based briefs on what's currently playing at IFS

Sprocket Damage
: Sprocket Damage digs deep(ish) into current and classic films and film-related subjects to bring to you insightful, humorous, and enlightening perspectives on the industry.

Search IFS schedules

Index of visiting artists

Thu Apr 27, 2023


At Muenzinger Auditorium

Sat Apr 29, 2023

The Illusionist

At Muenzinger Auditorium

more on 35mm...