This weeks moon cycle has been amazing and me being me, I seized the opportunity (I'll take anything) to watch a werewolf movie. Following their wicked creature feature, Piranha, Joe Dante and writer John Sayles returned with The Howling. An important rule when watching movies like this is to place yourself back at the time of it's release. As hokey as it might be now, The Howling was a damn effective and somewhat groundbreaking movie. The special FX were powerfully innovative for 1981 and if it weren't for An American Werewolf In London overshadowing it's release at the same time, this would have wound up the definitive werewolf movie. A television reporter is sent to a retreat after falling victim to a serial killer and unbeknownst to her, the retreat is a werewolf lair. Dee Wallace Stone headlined the movie at a time when she was THE scream queen of the 70s & 80s (screw Jamie Lee Curtis!). Acclaimed make-up artist Rick Baker was signed do all of the werewolf fx but he jumped ship at the last minute to work on American Werewolf... he won an Oscar for that work. And so while the werewolf fx are good in The Howling, they are over exposed and left on screen just enough to lessen their potancy. Less is more. But hey, the story is great, the gore is good and the movie is just heaps of fun.
And then there was The Howling II. It's a shit film right from the getgo. Of all the sequels in the franchise this is the only one to continue the continuity as we pick up shortly following the first movie. Christopher Lee stars and delivers a shlocky and hammed up performance as an occult investigator who leads a brother and a journalist on a hunt for the queen werewolf who's pack of cubs (for lack of better word) maimed a character from the first movie (I wont spoil for those who haven't seen). The movie was directed by Aussie Philippe Mora who helped forge the Ozploitation movement in the 70s. Its hard to tell if he's taking the material seriously or whether he's taking the piss and because of this, its a difficult movie to enjoy. He followed it up with The Howling III which is a blatant satire taking place in Australia with marsupial werewolves. It's now considered a trash gem and I'll review it some time down the track. It's a shame that this franchise ran out of steam so quickly though. There was a good mythology to work with as well as source material (novels) which were ignored.