Ultra HD: Highly Recommended
4 Stars out of 5
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Release Date: February 15th, 2022
Movie Release Year: 1981
MPAA Rating: Restricted
Release Country: United States
COLLAPSE INFO -

The Howling - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Review Date February 21st, 2022 by
Overview -

Scream Factory brings Joe Dante’s classic werewolf flick The Howling to our shores with a new Collector’s Edition. With the same excellent native 4K Dolby Vision transfer, Scream Factory ups the ante with three terrific audio tracks, multiple audio commentaries, and a great collection of new and archival bonus features. If you imported the earlier disc, you still have one hell of a release. If you didn’t import the earlier release, this Collector’s Edition 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray is well worth grabbing. Highly Recommended

OVERALL
Highly Recommended
  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs:
    4K Ultra HD Blu-ray + Blu-ray
    Video Resolution/Codec:
    2160p HEVC/H.265
    Dolby Vision HDR / HDR10
    Length:91
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):
    1.85:1
    Audio Formats:
    English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
    English: DTS-HD MA 2.0
    English: DTS-HD MA Mono
    Subtitles/Captions:
    English SDH
    Movie Studio: Shout! Factory
    Release Date: February 15th, 2022

Story Review Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

4.5 Stars out of 5

[Excerpt From Our UK Import 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

"Before being held captive inside a Ford Pinto by a crazed rabid dog, Dee Wallace was taken hostage by a ravenous, cult-like pack of maniacal werewolves in Joe Dante's cult-favorite The Howling. What starts as a week-long treatment of relaxation with her husband (Christopher Stone) after Wallace's Karen White's brutal attack inside an adult video store, quickly spirals into a nightmare of dark conspiracies, scary sex by the campfire, and the menacing howls of wolves. The creature feature is a cleverly deceiving and sly flick that seamlessly blends shock-horror special effects and an eerily ethereal atmosphere with a wicked, snickering sense of humor. One of the production's best aspects is how quickly it jumps into high gear right from the start and plunges audiences into the dark underbelly of society, namely the dark alleys and streets of Los Angeles where apparently Roger Corman, Forrest J. Ackerman, and grandma's corpse from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre make sudden cameo appearances. 

At the resort, the creepy, strangely oddball behavior of "The Colony" is also immediate within the first night, from Marsha Quist's (Elisabeth Brooks) sultry advances towards Karen's husband to her therapist Dr. Waggner (Patrick Macnee) and a wonderful character-actor John Carradine as the suicidal old kook Erle. Loosely inspired by Gary Brandner's novel of the same name, John Sayles' script takes a witty self-aware approach to the material, carrying an air of melodrama with a healthy dose of mystery and dialogue that takes shrewd jabs at itself. Smartly, Sayles, who also makes an appearance as a morgue attendant, leaves plenty of room for Dante to expand on this and throws in several tongue-in-cheek gags, similar to his Piranha and Gremlins. Littered with various wolf-related allusions throughout, the bizarre and warped sense of humor is further boosted by the amazing special makeup effects artistry of Rob Bottin (The ThingTotal Recall), working from notes and ideas developed by the legendary Rick Baker."


For my money - The Howling is the best modern werewolf movie. I say modern because Universal’s classic The Wolfman is legendary and Hammer’s The Curse of the Werewolf is also pretty terrific. Sadly since the 80s, there really hasn’t been a great werewolf flick. An American Werewolf in Paris was a fun 90s schlocky jaunt, Eric Red's Bad Moon is pretty fun and I enjoyed Werewolves Within but nothing has touched that magical year of 1981. Wolfen, Full Moon High, An American Werewolf in London, and, of course, The Howling gave lycanthrope fans a lot of great movies to chew on. Each is a great flick and I love them dearly, An American Werewolf in London is a genuine classic, but Joe Dante’s darkly hilarious creeper The Howling remains my eternally cursed favorite. But I have to admit to a bias there - this is the only film with a ridiculous number of increasingly bizarre and entertaining sequels. 

But speaking to this specific film, The Howling is just a damn creepy good time. Loosely based on the novel by Gary Brandner, I love the aura of mystery in this film. We have genre stalwart Dee Wallace Stone as an ace reporter who was terrorized by a serial killer. After a harrowing sting operation gone wrong, she’s left rattled and scared to death. Then what should have been a restful and relaxing convalescence turns out to be a descent into her worst fears and repressed memories. Then came the sequels - each having less and less to do with the original film. 

By the time you get to The Howling New Moon Rising the franchise became a series of sequels in name only. Weirdly enough, Howling IV: The Original Nightmare is actually a more faithful adaptation of the first novel, but then nothing quite beats The Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf for sheer absurdity. If there is one 80s horror franchise I’d love to see get a good and proper remake/update or 40-years-later continuation it’d be The Howling. I could see them figuring out a way to bring Dee Wallace back for some revenge-fueled ass-kicking werewolf action!

 

Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
The werewolves of The Howling called out for a new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Collector’s Edition from Scream Factory. Pressed on a BD-100 and in 1080p on a BD-50 disc, both discs are housed in a standard sturdy black case with identical slipcover artwork. I was hoping for some alternate insert artwork but sadly no dice - but the classic theatrical poster art is so iconic you can’t improve on it so no big loss there. Both discs open to animated main menus with traditional navigation options. 

  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs:
    4K Ultra HD Blu-ray + Blu-ray
    Video Resolution/Codec:
    2160p HEVC/H.265
    Dolby Vision HDR / HDR10
    Length:91
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):
    1.85:1
    Audio Formats:
    English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
    English: DTS-HD MA 2.0
    English: DTS-HD MA Mono
    Subtitles/Captions:
    English SDH
    Movie Studio: Shout! Factory
    Release Date: February 15th, 2022

Video Review

4 Stars out of 5

Effectively, Scream Factory has used the exact same native 4K 2016p Dolby Vision transfer from Studio Canal for this release. And that’s not a bad thing at all. The film was intentionally shot with a lot of soft focus and diffusion for an ethereally nightmarish dreamlike quality and this transfer perfectly captures that essence. Now worth noting this presentation clocks in with a slightly higher bitrate averaging into the mid 80mbps range. Flipping between my Studio Canal disc and Scream Factory’s disc, any difference in quality is imperceptible - at least on my screen. I’d be curious to know what folks with larger 70”+ screens or projectors who have both discs think. For a full take on this great transfer, refer back to our UK import review linked above.

Audio Review

4.5 Stars out of 5

In keeping with their recent 4K releases of the Halloween franchise, Scream factory has included a range of audio options for fans to choose from. You get an excellent DTS-HD MA 5.1 track, a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track, and a DTS-HD MA Mono track. All are great options. The 5.1 mix is the same as the Studio Canal release and it’s great for delivering a fully immersive experience. With that, I’m happy to see the original mono mix make an appearance here. When I watch these older films I tend to favor the original tracks so I’m glad to see this is an option - even if that 5.1 mix is a genuine beast. Dialog for each track is clean and clear without issue. Scoring is on point adding the right amount of mood to the feature and sound effects are lively and active.

Special Features

5 Stars out of 5

Now here’s where the rubber meets the road. Studio Canal offered fans a deluxe three-disc set that came with an extra DVD of bonus features. I opted for the two-disc Zavvi SteelBook so I didn’t get that extra DVD. So again, read the above linked review for a breakdown of those extras. But hats off to Scream Factory for pulling together their own magnificent selection of bonus features to dig through and devour. The only thing that I can’t find on this disc that was an easter egg on the original Scream Factory Blu-ray is the interview with Dick Miller. Ripping the disc - it is in there but for the life of me, I can't find it hidden in the menu structure.  

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray 

  • Audio Commentary featuring Joe Dante, Dee Wallace, Christopher Stone, and Robert Picardo
  • Audio Commentary featuring author Gary Brandner hosted by Michael Felsher 

1080p Blu-ray 

  • Audio Commentary featuring Joe Dante, Dee Wallace, Christopher Stone, and Robert Picardo
  • Audio Commentary featuring author Gary Brandner hosted by Michael Felsher 
  • NEW A Look Back at The Howling - Interview with Dee Wallace (HD 17:58)
  • NEW Howling Eternal - Interview with Producer Steven A. Lane (HD 18:49)
  • NEW Cut To Shreds - Interview with Editor Mark Goldblatt (HD 11:20)
  • Horror’s Hallowed Grounds (HD 12:15)
  • Making A Monster Movie: Inside The Howling (SD 8:01)
  • Unleashing The Beast: The Making of The Howling (SD 48:33)
  • Interview with Stop Motion Animator David Allen (SD 8:48)
  • Interview with Co-Writer Terence H. Winkless (HD 12:32)
  • Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary (HD 11:29)
  • Outtakes (HD 7:03)
  • Trailers From Hell with Josh Olson (HD 2:22)
  • Theatrical Trailer 
  • Still Gallery
  • Easter Egg: Dick Miller Interview (SD 3:28)

Final Thoughts

Joe Dante’s The Howling is a near-perfect werewolf movie. It’s creepy, it has a dark sense of humor to it, the special effects are amazing, and the performances - especially Dee Wallace - are excellent. This is a werewolf movie that knows how to be fun and scary at the same time. Sadly the franchise that followed wasn’t as strong, but they’re worth checking out as delightful guilty pleasures. 

Scream Factory upgrades their already great Collector’s Edition Blu-ray with a new and improved 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Collector's Edition release. Using the same transfer of the UK release from Studio Canal, The Howling has never looked better. But for this release, you get three audio options to chose from, the terrific audio commentaries, and a slew of new and archival bonus features to pick through. Essentially, if you already imported the Studio Canal release, you’re all set. The main difference here to there are the bonus features and the audio options, but those alone aren't really enough to warrant a double-dip. All the same, this one comes Highly Recommended

  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs:
    4K Ultra HD Blu-ray + Blu-ray
    Video Resolution/Codec:
    2160p HEVC/H.265
    Dolby Vision HDR / HDR10
    Length:91
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):
    1.85:1
    Audio Formats:
    English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
    English: DTS-HD MA 2.0
    English: DTS-HD MA Mono
    Subtitles/Captions:
    English SDH
    Movie Studio: Shout! Factory
    Release Date: February 15th, 2022