Picks and Pans Review: The Howling
The hero of this bracing horror is Rob Bottin, 21, who has created special effects to rival those in Altered States. We're in traditional werewolf territory, but Bottin's makeup wizardry is absolutely unique. Actors become drooling, snout-nosed beasts without trick photography in scenes that win audience gasps—deservedly. There are unexpected laughs as well, thanks to the screenplay by John (Return of the Secaucus Seven) Sayles and newcomer Terence Winkless. Their satirical shots hit everything from self-help groups to Wolfman Jack. The protagonist, Dee Wallace (the upstaged bar girl in "10"), is a TV anchorwoman who uses herself as bait to line a sex maniac (Robert Picardo) and bigger ratings. Then Patrick (The Avengers) Macnee, a smoothie TV shrink, invites Wallace to unwind in his isolated Northern California health spa, inhabited by the suspicious likes of John Carradine, Slim Pickens and lupine nympho Elisabeth Brooks, who brings fresh meaning to the cliché "animal magnetism." Before long werewolves are making it hairy for everyone. Director Joe (Piranha) Dante keeps the brew bubbling with B-movie references and clips from the 1941 classic The Wolf Man, complete with anti-werewolf tips from Maria Ouspenskaya. Between the gooseflesh and the giggles, it will keep you howling, too, full moon or not. (R)
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