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July 19, 2010
The Howling Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
2/4/19812/6/2010UniversalJoe Dante
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0R18+Dee Wallace
Patrick Macnee

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For a low-budget movie The Howling (1980) has decent effects.

There were many, many horror films released in the 80's and since then many of those titles have gone on to become classics, or at least cult classics. The Howling, (which was released in 1980 in America and 1981 here in Australia - back in the days when movies took months to make it out here!) may not have reached cult classic status, but it's a werewolf film that came before many others.

The movie centres around Karen White, a Los Angeles television anchor who is being stalked by a serial killer called Eddie Quist. Karen involves the local authorities and soon enough Eddie is dead and Karen has amnesia. Her therapist decides to send Karen to a retreat, so can be relieved of her stress, but this retreat is filled with many undesirable characters.

One of these undesirable characters happens to be a werewolf and soon enough it is revealed than everyone at these retreats is a werewolf. In any other film this would mean Karen is safe during the day but in The Howling these werewolf can shapeshift and do not require a full moon.

Once it's revealed that everyone is a werewolf at the retreat things start to heat up a lot. Karen needs to escape the werewolfs and survive, which results in plenty of eighties styled horror action. There are some action scenes, death, shots fired, it's the type of movie you don't take too seriously and just enjoy.

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This is classic 1980's horror.
Overall The Howling isn't a particularly classic film, but those after a cheap 80's horror film will be pleased with this movie, and indeed this release on Blu-Ray from Universal.

The AVC MPEG-4 video transfer in The Howling is adequete, considering the film was originally released in 1980. The video bitrate on my PlayStation 3 sat between 24 and 28 Mbps throughout the movie. For its time the special effects in The Howling are not too bad, especially considering the movie was made on an estimated budget of $US1 million. Having said that the video quality, and as a result the transfer, does show off some of the shortcuts taken, which previously would have gone un-noticed on the lower resolution VHS and DVD formats.

Overall while watching The Howling it felt to me like the movie had been given a complete coat of varnish over the entire transfer. Everything glows and this works for the most part, but occasionally the glow becomes quite strong on certain objects. An example of this is a plank of wood towards the end of the movie which has a really strong blue glow that seems out of place.

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There's something not quite human there...
The Howling contains a DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio track. The sounds of the werewolves and the shotguns and glass breaking is strong and sounds good.

Besides the English 2.0 audio track this disc includes French, German, Spanish and Castilian DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 tracks as well. The disc also contains French, German, Castilian, Spanish and Dutch subtitles.

There are only a few basic extras included on The Howling Blu-Ray disc, but one in particular is worth checking out.

The Werewolf Effect (26:58/HD): This featurette is the shining gem on the Blu-Ray. It's in High Definition and takes a look through the werewolves in the film, as well as a quick look at the special effects utilised throughout the film. We were hoping that this special feature would extend beyond the first films release of 1980, but unfortunately not.

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The Howling is out now on Blu-Ray.
Trailer (1:24): This is the original trailer for the film from when it was released. It is unfortunately only in standard definition.

Teaser (0:34): This teaser trailer is also in standard definition and is quite short.

As a bonus this disc inludes an Audio/Video Configuration tool. This option is something we've previously never seen on a Blu-Ray (I've seen similar on quite a few discs, including Pixar's titles - Dave). When you select audio configuration you can test to see that your speakers are set up correctly as the Blu Ray plays a surround sound audio track. The video configuration option presents you with a menu indicating what you should adjust your brightness and constrast ratio to.

The Howling is a classic 1980's horror film, it's not a particularly memorable movie, but those looking for a classic popcorn movie could do a whole lot worse than this release. With the movie currently out with a lower RRP of only $29.95, and (according to EzyDVD) being dropped in price to $14.95 in August this is pretty good value.

Review By: Luke Van Leuveren


Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Universal. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.