I Caught The Howling on TV last night.
Its one of my favourite Werewolf movies and a real gem from 1981. Rob Bottin did the amazing transformation effects. It was first solo job.
Directed by New Jersey's great son Joe Dante, its stuffed with monster and werewolf references from popular culture and other films. Its fun to spot them.
Some I know but some I need your help with!
The first one's easy, its none other than Roger Corman, the B-movie king who nurtured Dante early on. He walks into the phone box after the main character Karen leaves.
The next one I need your help with. Eddie Quist was the mangler at the start of the flick [played by Star Trek Voyager's Holographic Doc no less!]. In Eddie's apartment there's a horror magazine cover pinned to the wall next to this drawing of a werewolf. Which magazine is it?
After careful study with a magnifying glass I deciphered the words The Fanged Flies, which lead me straight to the mystery horror comic!
Its is Weird Vampire Tales from July 1980
Lacking any obvious werewolf puns, I can only assume that this was on the newsstands shortly after Joe Dante's prop department got to work in California in May 1980.
Coincidentally, I had lots of the related Witches Tales and Horror Tales comics as a kid in the Seventies and still have many of them!
I've got the next one, another cameo. This time its the late great Forry Ackerman browsing in the occult store, the owner played by Corman and Dante stalwart Dick Miller. Forry is widely credited with sparking the monster craze of the Sixties with .....
his Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, a copy of which I can see in his hands as he turns round. Can you tell which issue it is?
Yep, got this one too. My trusty magnifying glass helped!
Forry is holding issue 21 of Famous Monsters of Filmland, which includes a look round his home, the famous Ackermansion! The cover depicts Henry Hull aka The Werewolf of London!
I may have even had this issue as a kid, minus the cover! If I did then its in my attic upstairs!
Up next is what I assume to be Dante's nod to the origin of werewolf movies, The Wolfman. The film plays briefly on the TV of the two reporters at the heart of the Howling. In The Wolfman we can see Lawrence Talbot played by the superb Lon Chaney discussing his impending hairyness with Maleva the Gypsy soothsayer.
The next still I need help with. Leading man Bill is reading a paperback in bed here. Can you make out what it is?
[in real life 'Bill', Chris Stone, was married to the film's lead actress Dee Wallace. He died aged just 53, a little older than the actress Elizabeth Brookes, who played his on-screen wolf lover Marsha Quist. She died aged just 46].
Keen-eyed reader Tony K solved this one!
Bill, above, is reading You Can't Go Home Again by Thomas WOLFE!
Yep, its another of Dante's nested giggles.
Ironically 'Bill' Neill himself never goes home again as he is bitten by werewolf Marsha Quist and is later shot with a silver bullet.
The last still above is from another film clip on the reporters' TV. Its an old colour animated cartoon of a wolf and a lamb I think. Anyone recognise it?
IMdB came to the rescue here. It lists quite a few Howling puns including the name of this cartoon, which it suggests is this Looney Toons episode "Pigs in a Polka" (1943) with the Big Bad Wolf, although I can't actually find the same scene as in the Howling.
That's because IMdB are incorrect! Having studied all the old wolf cartoons on You Tube its not Looney Tunes.
Its actually this older Castle Films/ Celebrity Productions cartoon called The Big Bad Wolf from 1936 [there's even old reels of it for collectors on Ebay!]
The "Howling" scene pictured above is around 3.50 minutes
There are many more nested references, which nowadays might be called easter eggs. For example a copy of Allen Ginsberg's poetry collection HOWL is lying on the reporter's desk at one point.
Many of the actors themselves link back to older monster movies as well. The older cop at the start of The Howling was none other than the chiseled young Captain who battles the creature in Roger Corman's Thing from Another World, another favourite of mine.
Let me know if you crack the mystery references and props I mention.