Imagine your worst fear a reality.
Year of Release: 1981
Running Time: 91 minutes (1:31)
Director: Joe Dante
Dee Wallace ... Karen White
Patrick Macnee ... Dr. George Waggner
Christopher Stone ... R. William 'Bill' Neill
Dennis Dugan ... Chris Halloran
Belinda Balaski ... Terry Fisher
Kevin McCarthy ... Fred Francis
John Carradine ... Erle Kenton
Slim Pickens ... Sam Newfield
Elisabeth Brooks ... Marsha Quist
Robert Picardo ... Eddie Quist
Don McLeod ... T.C. Quist
Margie Impert ... Donna
Noble Willingham ... Charlie Barton
James Murtaugh ... Jerry Warren
James MacKrell ... Lew Landers
Dick Miller ... Walter Paisley - Bookstore Owner
Forrest J. Ackerman ... Bookstore Customer (uncredited)
John Sayles ... Morgue Attendant (uncredited)
Roger Corman ... Man in Phone Booth (uncredited)
Alone in a remote cabin one dark night, a beautiful young woman hears an unearthly shriek pierce the air. The eerie sound continues unceasingly until finally, unable to bear it any longer, she takes a flashlight and goes outside to investigate. That's when the horror of The Howling begins! The sinister world of that super-natural creature who stalks human prey - the Werewolf - is explored in this contemporary tale of timeless terror.
The Howling, remindin' us to always practice proper phone booth etiquette an never tie up the line for more than five minutes, cause you never know who might be waitin' in line. For instance, in this movie Dee Wallace is yackin' away endlessly while Roger Corman waits outside the booth. Do you realize that Roger coulda made three movies in the time it took Dee to get off the dang phone? That one scene prolly delayed Forbidden World two to three months an pushed it outta contention for best picture 1981, so I hope the goll danged call was important.
An speakin' of things that'll come back to bite you, sometimes it's a durn dangerous business just gettin' dinner on the table. Then there're days where it's hard to avoid *becoming* dinner, cause when you least it expect it BAM, carnivorous pack rat emerges from the chest cavity of your deer carcass an starts vaultin' itself into people's faces like in Day of the Animals. Lemme just back up here a minute though; see, what happened was Cleave Furguson an I were up at Furry Mountain Stuffing this past week cuttin' up the deer he shot last weekend, when I reached up inside an felt somethin' furry. Prolly just mold, right? Well, that's what I thought, until the supposed mold bit me. Next thing we know this pack rat the size of a dachshund comes tearin' outta there with venison shrapnel stuck in its teeth an starts hissin' at us like a burn barrel fulla damp leaves. Dunno if it snuck in there while we were waitin' for Sadie Bonebreak to pick us up after Cleave's Bronco got wrapped around that tree, or whether it'd been livin' in the taxidermy shop all that time, but needless to say we had a problem. Rabid carnivorous pack rats ain't great for business, ya know? Well, not for Cleave's business, anyway. Course, once Skunky Hernandez found out about it you could see the wheels spinnin' in his head even over the phone, cause apparently he wanted it captured alive for his pre Sage Maze showin' of The Killer Shrews on Halloween night. Now, a lotta people'll tell you I'll do anything for money, but gettin' a harness on that rat wasn't about the $20 Skunky was offerin' for its capture. That barely even covered the cost of all the deer burger that little moocher'd eaten over the course of the week. No, this was personal, cause eventually the bite on my index finger got infected an caused it to seize up on me right as I was about to break the high score on the Frogger machine at The Gutter Bowl. We tried the usual live traps an sticky paper for a while, but he just tore through those like a pitbull through a set of postal underpants, an eventually we hadda resort to desperate measures once we figured out where he was holed up. I ain't real proud of myself, but it *was* Clovis Skidman's elk mount that the rat'd taken up residence inside, an Cleave *did* need Clovis to come inspect the mount to make sure he was satisfied with the work. Tetnis says Clovis should regain the full use of his thumb once we can get the vet to retrieve it from the rat's gut bucket, but the rat's kinda P.O.'d at the moment given the fact that he's sharin' a barn with Skunky's chickens that look like the ones from Eraserhead. But all in all, Skunky's got his mutant killer rat for Halloween night, I made enough quarters to take another crack at the Frogger record, an Clovis got 30% off Cleave's taxidermy fee to compensate for losin' 20% of his finger to right hand ratio, so I think everything turned out alright.
Woulda had the perfect segue if I'd reviewed "The Rats are Coming! The Werewolves are Here!", but I promised not to review any doo-doo for the month of October, so that was out. But this is much better, cause by 1981 we were seriously in need of a werewolf movie that could bring the mythology into a modern setting an quit usin' German Shepherds with carpets tacked to their backs. We actually got three that same year, including An American Werewolf in London, an Wolfen, but The Howling made it into theaters before the other two, an ironically, was also the flick that spawned a series of sequels so pitiful that people eventually got sick of the werewolf cycle all over again. But the original Howling is pretty durn good, an bein's how this was Joe Dante's first hit genre flick where Roger Corman wasn't hangin' around the set makin' sure he didn't embarrass himself, I think it'd be nice to show Joe what us cinematic deplorables learned from his movie, while he was tryin' to show Roger what he'd learned from him. First, always buy your occult texts from a reputable dealer, cause tryin' to take on a pack of werewolves with guidance gleaned though a Time-Life book'll probably result in the big bad wolf blowin' your house in. Second, you can't throw acid into a monster's face until it's completely finished its transformation. Steal a monster's thunder an he'll be camped out in his trailer for the rest of the day refusin' to work until he gets an apology an a re-shoot. An third, if you're gonna let a slutty werewolf into your den, you'd best be prepared for the flea epidemic that follows. Here's what I don't get though; the doc has this resort where all his werewolf litter-mates can live together in safety from the outside world, cause he claims that humanity don't "understand" 'em, an that they can't co-exist with a buncha jerks who wanna send out Cesar Millan to domesticate 'em against their will. So they're worried about their numbers an their ability to protect their yard from mail carriers an what not, an the doc's solution to this is to make 'em all hide out in this glorified kennel with their tails tucked between their legs. What kinda psychologist is this guy? Don't he realize that with the number of disenfranchised people there are in the world he could recruit an army just by takin' a page outta the Scientology playbook? I mean, I realize that even for people who just straight up murder folks from time to time, this level of preyin' upon the weak might be beneath their dignity, but we're talkin' about the survival of their species at this point. Why'dya think gangs're so popular? People wanna fit in an be a part of somethin' bigger than themselves, an a werewolf pack is a pretty cool option if you're one of those needy sorts. No membership dues, no waitin' all day to use the pool table at your hangout spot, it's a pretty solid choice. I just feel like this doctor ain't understandin' the fact that their greatest liability can easily become their greatest asset, with the right PR campaign. That's all I'm sayin'.
The movie begins in a TV studio where the dorks in the control room're mullin' over this tape of Dee Wallace interviewin' a poor man's Donald Pleasence (Dr. Waggner) on the set of Love Connection, before shiftin' over to Dee walkin' through one of those alleyways that's so disgustin' the hobos all hafta wear haz-mat suits on 'er way to meet with some mass murderer (Eddie) in the porno district to advance 'er career. Cept en route Dee's underwire tit-snitcher 2000 broadcast microphone shorts out an stops sendin' a signal back to the studio an causes all the executives to start desperately scramblin' for programmin' in a manner seldom witnessed since Geraldo opened up an empty vault. Course, Dee doesn't know this, so she heads into the Pudgy Pervert Porno Plaza an makes all the patrons turn up their collars so high that they look like turtles duckin' into their shells, before meetin' Eddie in one of those pubicles where you pay 50 cents to watch two real ugly people ruin a set of bed sheets. As if that ain't unsanitary enough, apparently it's "screen your homebrew" night, an Eddie starts runnin' this film of two hillbillies tyin' up some college girl an givin' 'er the ole double barrel, while explainin' to Dee that she's about to join the defiled thigh club. Fortunately, Dee's boyfriend (Bill) manages to get the cops in there before Eddie's lizard comes out an one of 'em ends up emptyin' his pistol into the booth before Eddie can cock his gun. Dee is just a tiny bit frazzled after her night on the town, so she goes home to sleep it off, but keeps havin' nightmares about the attack an how if she misses even one night the weather bimbo that's sleepin' with Walter Cronkite is gonna steal 'er anchor chair. The next mornin', a coupla gophers (Chris an Terry) from the station check out Eddie's apartment to rifle through his personal belongings for anything newsworthy an generally compromise the crime scene so the cops can't provide any closure to the families of the victims. Actually, the walls're almost completely covered with a collage of newspaper clippins detailin' his greatest slits an a series of concept drawins of Chewbacca, which they take to doc Waggner to examine. But later that night, studio manager an ratings tycoon Kevin McCarthy demands Dee get back in the anchor's chair to tell her story, where she promptly freezes up like a cow trough in January an hasta be air lifted to the green room by a coupla grips. Then the doc diagnoses 'er with PTSDee syndrome an invites her an Bill out to the island of Dr. Snoreau to get some R&R before the stress starts doin' permanent damage to her perfect hair. The doc calls his place The Colony, an it appears to exist solely as an excuse to get a buncha people with unfulfilling jobs together to act like teenagers in a beach movie so they won't blow their brains out all over the walls of various high rise office buildings.
Things're goin' pretty good, until John Carradine brings down the party by attemptin' to hop into the bonfire to do his impression of the Wicker Man, but the doc explains that he just gets that way now an then when he remembers the time he agreed to shoot book ends for Red Zone Cuba an that he'll be fine in the mornin'. Then, around bed time, Dee starts hearin' howls outside the house an decides to go look around while Eddie Munster eyeballs 'er lace nighty from the bushes. Meanwhile, back in the city, Chris an Terry're fartin' around down at the morgue tryin' to get a peek at Eddie's corpse, cept when the organ grinder opens up the meat locker it ain't in there, an the door to his drawer looks like it was in a fist fight with Mike Tyson after he absconded with Joe Montana's super bowl ring collection. Then we transition back to Dee an 'er friend Donna on the island where they come upon this dead steer in the middle of the forest an Sheriff Slim Pickens hasta console Dee when she starts freakin' out about cattle mutilations. Dee's had kind of a traumatic career when it comes to aliens showin' up unannounced on 'er property now that I think about it. But the good news is that this's a great way for all the men to get together an let their bellies bulge out like bloated deer carcasses, cause the doc figures there's a wolf on the loose an that means swillin' beer an debatin' which one of Charlie's Angels has the best rack while this weirdo who dresses like Pluto from The Hills Have Eyes (T.C.) tracks the wolf. They never do find the wolf, but Bill manages to kill a bunny that looks like it escaped a nearby petting zoo an takes it to T.C.'s over-sexed sister Marsha to fry up into a Bugs Bunny burger. Course, Marsha's interest in rabbits pretty much begins an ends with havin' a comparable sex drive, an all she wants to do is get Bill to follow 'er bunny trail down to the rabbit hole. Unfortunately for Marsha, Bill is just too loyal or impotent to go in for that, an while he's runnin' home to pour a tray of ice cubes down his pants he gets attacked by Anubis an chomped like a piece of bird shot in a pheasant breast. While that's goin' on, Chris an Terry're in Dick Miller's occult gift shop lookin' for information on werewolves, an Dick fills 'em in on all the werewolf rules an makes sure they stay away from the the post Wolf Man books so he don't end up gettin' sued by their survivin' relatives after bein' turned into Purina Dog Chow. Then Dee calls Terry an asks 'er to come stay with 'er cause she can't stand life outside her echo chamber, an once she hangs up the phone she tries gettin' Bill to give 'er the slick Willy but he's got this headache that prevents 'im from havin' sex with anybody who has a dry nose, so he sneaks out in the middle of the night to meet Marsha an get his wounds licked. The next mornin', Terry makes it out to the island, but while she's takin' in the scenery she notices that one of Eddie's landscape sketches looks a whole lot like this cliff she's standin' in front of an ends up snoopin' around in Marsha an T.C.'s doggie dorm an find a room plastered with wallpaper made up of deaditorials from Eddie's crime spree.
Cept before she can scrape a saliva sample offa one of the chew toys on the floor, somethin' starts pawin' at the closet door an Terry hasta grab a hatchet an chop off its furry forearm when it tries buryin' 'er in the yard. Now Terry's determined to get to the bottom of things since the travel agents all seem to gloss over the whole werewolf epidemic when they're printin' up brochures for the place. So she calls up Chris an he tells 'er to go root around in the doc's file cabinet to see if there's anything on Eddie in there an whether the doc's managed to link his childhood destruction of sofa cushions to his current antisocial behavior, only before she can violate the doc's patient confidentiality, she gets 'er windpipe kinked by a sadomasochistic furry. Elsewhere, Dee notices all the puppy love bites on Bill's anatomy an starts in on 'im about all the bad stuff he's been doin' in 'er dreams until he ends up slappin' 'er after she starts makin' unflattering remarks about the mother of his pups. Needless to say, Dee's outta there an Bill's set to begin servin' at least a dime in the doghouse. Course by this point Chris is a little concerned about all the gagging an screamin' he heard while the phone was danglin' like a night crawler off a fishin' hook, so he drives back to Dick's one stop horror shop to buy some silver bullets an guns it down the freeway like the Nightrider from Mad Max, while Dee's searches for Terry back at the house that quack built. Ain't too long before she finds Terry in the doc's office, but that's also where she finds Butcher Patrick who's kinda P.O.'d about what happened the last time they were alone together since he's gonna need one of them Hindu dots to cover up the bullet hole in his forehead. Then his face starts bubblin' up like a pot of turkey gravy an sproutin' hair all over his body like some mad science experiment involvin' Rogaine til Dee gets grossed out an throws a jar of acid on 'im. She tries to run, but before she can get to a car she's captured by Sheriff Lobo an dragged back to the barn where the whole Colony's waitin' with this prepared intervention speech about how they think she's lettin' 'er civilized half take precedence over 'er darker impulses, an how they'd like to help 'er find Dog. Cept it ain't quite that simple, cause there's some disagreement about whether to bring out the dog or chew on 'er fat, with Marsha an John castin' some dissentin' votes about doc's plan for tryin' to live with humans cause they're afraid people'll laugh at 'em for carryin' around plastic bags an scoops when they go for a walk in the park. Unfortunately, the democratic process hasta be put on hold, cause about that time Chris pulls in with his box fulla mutt mangler silver slugs an he's none too happy about his friends gettin' hung up in the doc's sapien snare. Gonna cut the summary here, so if you don't already know who ends up lettin' their dogs out, you'll just hafta check it out for yourself.
Ya know, I think this movie, in conjunction with American Werewolf in London and Wolfen, pretty much saved the whole werewolf cycle in film. I've bitched about this before, but the older werewolf movies really don't do much for me, and those three aforementioned flicks kinda opened the floodgates and made the subgenre popular again for another decade before it started to peter out. Even beside the six sequels that followed, with most of them being more terrible than the one before, Hollywood also churned out Teen Wolf and its sequel, Full Moon High, Silver Bullet, The Company of Wolves, and the short lived TV series Werewolf from 1987 during that period. So basically, The Howling did more to salvage this subgenre for me personally than any other movie of its type that came before, and I think the primary reason for this is that this was the point where werewolves actually diverged from being just a guy covered in yak hair to actual monsters. All the best werewolf movies followed suit, and this new werewolf that walks bipedally and resembles a wolf much more than a man ultimately became the standard. And although it pains me to say this, I think the best two werewolf movies were actually made in years that begin with "20" rather than "19." Those being Ginger Snaps and Dog Soldiers. Still The Howling is kinda like the 1989 Batman movie, in the sense that it was the transitional flick that took a comedic concept (or that was at least viewed that way by modern audiences in the case of older werewolf movies) and provided audiences with a modern take that future filmmakers were able to build on. So while the 1989 Batman and The Howling are inferior to The Dark Knight and Dog Soldiers, those newer movies owe a big part of their success to the transitional flicks, because without them, they may not have adapted some of the aspects that made them as good as they are. Of course, The Howling has a lot of subtle humor that some of the newer werewolf movies lack, although most of that is built into characters' names, or tucked away in the background in the form of props. For instance, the can of "Wolf" brand chili in Marsha's kitchen. Very cute, Joe, we all laughed when we saw it, but we still think you're a dork for doin' it. And there's more than just that one thing; you've got the book Bill's reading in bed called "You Can't Go Home Again" by Thomas Wolfe, the "Howl" novel by Allen Ginsburg sitting next to a phone, the picture of Lon Chaney Jr. on the wall of Dr. Waggner's office, and at least 11 names for characters that're references to directors of various werewolf flicks. Basically what I'm saying is Joe Dante's a geek, but he's a geek that knows his horror, and that's why we love him. Even if he did go hardtop on us and direct Small Soldiers after the genre kinda dried up in the 1990s.
In any event, it's time to takes this flick in for its annual physical and find out if it can still run with the big dogs, or whether it's time to put it down. The plot really isn't all that original. Swap out werewolves for insane families holed up in creaky old mansions and you've basically got a retread of a very old concept, with a minor tweak. Of course, a minor tweak can really grab someone's attention if you do it in the right area (the nipple, for instance), and in that respect the plot still works for me, even if it's not particularly original. To the screenwriters' credit though, the twist ending is pretty good. The acting, despite the state-of-the-art 1981 special effects, is my favorite thing about the movie, simply because the cast is bursting at the seams with great character actors. You've got Dick Miller reprising his Walter Paisley role from A Bucket of Blood as the occult bookkeeper, John Carradine as the old coot who's had it with the way the young pups in The Colony wanna co-exist with the humans, Kevin McCarthy as the studio exec who can't believe his star anchor needs a day off after nearly being murdered, Slim Pickens as the local yokel sheriff, and Robert Picardo as the sleazebag werewolf Eddie. That's before you even factor in how good Dee Wallace is, although I don't think she'd reached peak "hysterical mother" status until Cujo. We don't get as many hysterical women actors as we used to, but Dee was definitely the best of her era. So if you like character actors and somehow missed this one, you'll wanna check it out ASAP, because it's got one of the best genre casts of any flick ever made from the era before Rob Zombie started collecting them like Faberge Eggs.
Here's who matters and why, less Dee Wallace, Dick Miller, Kevin McCarthy, and John Carradine, who I feel most people interested in the horror genre should already be pretty familiar with: Patrick Macnee (The Low Budget Time Machine, Waxwork I & II, Masque of the Red Death 1989, Lobster Man from Mars, Transformations, The Creature Wasn't Nice, Sweet Sixteen, Incense for the Damned, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), Christopher Stone (Cujo), Belinda Balaski (Gremins I & II, Piranha 1978, The Warlord: Battle for the Galaxy, Amazon Women on the Moon, Explorers, Till Death, The Food of the Gods), Slim Pickens (Dr. Strangelove, This House Possessed, The Swarm, The Shadow of Chikara), Elisabeth Brooks (The Forgotten One, Deep Space), Robert Picardo (Gremlins 2, Star Trek: First Contact, Total Recall, Occupants, Mansion of Blood, Time Machine: Rise of the Morlocks, Trail of Blood, Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus, Monsterwolf, The Awakened, The 'Burbs, 976-EVIL, Dead Heat, Amazon Women on the Moon, Bates Motel, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Munchies, Legend), Noble Willingham (Fire in the Sky), James Murtaugh (Someone's Watching Me!), James MacKrell (Teen Wolf, Gremlins, Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death, I Saw What You Did, Pandemonium), Kenneth Tobey (The Thing from Another World, It Came from Beneath the Sea, The Naked Monster, Hellraiser 4, Gremlins I & II, Ghost Writer, Freeway 1988, Strange Invaders, Ben, The Vampire 1957, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms), Don McLeod (Tarzan in Manhattan, Pandemonium), Herbie Braha (Child's Play 2, The Lord of the Rings 1978, Vampire 1979), Joe Bratcher (Coma), Bill Sorrells (Witches' Brew, The Clone Master, Blue Sunshine, Helter Skelter 1976), Meshach Taylor (The Omen II, Hyenas, Ultra Warrior, Warning Sign, Explorers, The Beast Within), Sarina C. Grant (Bad Dreams, Coma, Candyman), Daniel Nunez (Close Encounters of the Third Kind), Michael O'Dwyer (The Fury), Wendell Wright (The Visitation), Forrest J. Ackerman (The Dead Undead, The Boneyard Collection, Scarlet Moon, Scorned 2005, The Naked Monster, Skinned Deep, Future War, Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfold, That Little Monster, Innocent Blood, Dead Alive, Nudist Colony of the Dead, The Laughing Dead, Transylvania Twist, Curse of the Queerwolf, Return of the Living Dead Part II, Evil Spawn, Amazon Women on the Moon, Scalps, Equinox, King Kong 1976, Dracula vs. Frankenstein, Queen of Blood, The Time Travelers), Robert A. Burns (Confessions of a Serial Killer, Microwave Massacre), Robert Hammond (Predator, Amityville 7, Dark Harvest, Hellraiser III, Captain America 1990, Transylvania Twist, The Blob 1988), John Sayles (The Brother from Another Planet, Piranha), Beverly Warren (The Laughing Dead, The Naked Monster), Bill Warren (The Naked Monster, Dinosaur Valley Girls, My Lovely Monster, The Laughing Dead).
Additionally, there's a fairly considerable list of casting credits for all you poor souls out there who live under the domineering remote control thumb of a mainstream movie warden and hafta hear about the good stuff through seedy websites, so if that sounds like you, here ya go: Patrick Macnee (Sir Godfrey Tibbett in A View to Kill, E.B. Hungerford on Super Force, John Steed on The New Avengers), Christopher Stone (Chris McCullogh on The New Lassie), Robert Picardo (The Doctor on Star Trek: Voyager, Dr. Dick Richard on China Beach, Coach Cutlip on The Wonder Years), Noble Willingham (Sheldon Marcone in The Last Boy Scout, Clay Stone in City Slickers I & II, General Taylor in Good Morning Vietnam), Meshach Taylor (Shel Baylor on Dave's World, Anthony Bouvier on Designing Women).
The special effects, while pretty impressive for their time, don't hold up as well as those of Rob Bottin's most famous flick, The Thing. Rob was kinda thrust into doing the effects on this movie when Rick Baker dropped out to do An American Werewolf in London, and while I still think they're pretty good, some of them look a little goofy after you've seen flicks like Ginger Snaps. That said, you're asking a lot of a special effects man to actually show transformation scenes almost completely in their entirety, so even though they might not be top shelf 35 years after the fact, a big part of why that is can be attributed to how difficult they were to pull off. The good news is that no punches were pulled, and once the big reveal finally happens, there's plenty of on screen werewolf action for the remainder. The werewolf effects can usually be summarized thusly; if they're close to the camera, they range from decent to good. If they're 10 feet from the camera and facing towards it, they're good, but if they're a ways away with their backs to the camera, they're not great. There's also a dead cow, a mangled corpse, and some stop motion werewolf movements, a torn out throat, and a severed arm. These range from decent to good, despite the actual severing of said arm coming across rather poorly. On the lower end of the spectrum is the scene where Bill and Marsha are gettin' familiar next to the camp fire, which eventually turns into... well, I dunno how they did it exactly, but it looks terrible. What I'm trying to get across here is basically that these effects which would have been 10/10 in 1981, are probably only 8 of 10 now, which is still good, just not mind blowing anymore.
The shooting locations provide another strong showing, despite being two worlds apart in most respects. Early on you've got the gritty slums of the inner city, after which the movie transitions to the well groomed, yet highly atmospheric forests of California, and they both make for fantastic backdrops that add a lot of mood to their respective acts. Normally I'm more likely to notice bad cinematography rather than good, but John Hora did a really nice job photographing both of these areas, and he deserves a lot of the credit for how well this flick turned out, as does the guy who was pumping all that fog into the shots. The housing interiors aren't especially memorable, but they're easily the least relevant of all the scenes in the movie, so there isn't much to report on that front. The soundtrack on the other hand, is kinda strange and not really in tune with the rest of the movie. It was composed by Pino Donaggio, who's had an extremely prolific scoring career that includes flicks like Carrie, Piranha, Tourist Trap, Beyond Evil, and about 200 others, but I personally don't think this is one of his better jobs. I think it's that 1970s Italian sound that kinda plops the movie down in cheesy town, although there are some tracks that utilize more classical horror instruments like the organ, and those are better. I kinda get the feeling that maybe Pino never got a copy of the finished script to look over before he started work on this, because it doesn't really seem like the music was written specifically for this movie, or more importantly, the specific scenes in the movie. I dunno, some people seem to really like it, but I find it to be out of sync with the feel of the movie, and definitely consider it to be the low point. Overall, the modern werewolf owes its life to this (and An American Werewolf in London), but the flick is good enough on its own merit to check out even without taking into account its historical significance. Definitely one of the best werewolf movies ever made, so if you hadn't gotten around to it yet, be sure to remedy that.