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The Howling

D: Joe Dante C: Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, Dennis Dugan

Forty years after Universal’s wolf man and twenty after Hammer’s it seems to have dawned on no less than two filmmakers that the evolution of special effects since then might make a full  transformation possible. However, instead of reprising the Hollywood Central European setting, Joe Dante opted for a modernization.

Now, the lycanthropes are simply another minority trying to adapt under the supervision of a psychologist. This being 1980, and WEREWOLF LIVES MATTER still a long way off, they can’t very well go around slaughtering lycophobes to protest the unjust treatment of wolves in the medieval period.

In fact, the good doctor has them on a diet of beef, which must be something like a veggie burger to us humans. As is to be expected, these noble savages are branded serial killers, or even sadists – where are the Democrats, when you really need them?

The effects are of course the real star, which is actually a pity. Impressive and groundbreaking as they may be, they seem patchy and incomplete.

There’s a reason for this, Rick Baker abandoning the project, when he got a better offer, the result being that the definitive transformation scene is to be found in AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. Predictably, Rob Bottin’s creations are more fanciful, like the illustrations in a book of fairy tales, clashing with the gritty realism of sensation journalism and porn shops, and leading up to the final revelation of Dee E. T. Wallace turning into a poodle.

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