The Howling - A franchise with bite
By James Whittington, Sunday 28th January 2018

Based on Gary Bradner's novel of the same name, The Howling is one of those werewolf movies that dared to be more vicious than its predecessors and yet still retained a more traditional tone. Horror is proud to be showing this classic on Saturday 3rd February as part of our Season of the Wolf, so here's a quick timeline of The Howling franchise and personal opinions of the movies. Let us know if you agree via email and our social feeds.

Directed by Joe Dante in 1981, The Howling took the young director to new heights after cult hits Piranha in 1978 and Rock N' Roll High School the following year. Though the movie only took some of the ideas from the original story, it was strong enough to earn itself a lasting place in many horror movie lovers Top Ten lists. Over the next 30 years the movie would spawn seven sequels, each with their own merits but none that equaled the intensity of the original.

Released in the same year as An American Werewolf in London and the often overlooked Wolfen, The Howling boasts a solid cast which includes Dee Wallace, Robert Picardo, John Carradine, Dick Miller and Patrick Macnee as well as showing off the early skills up and coming SFX maestro, Rob Bottin, the man who would give John Carpenter's sci-fi masterpiece The Thing life in 1982.

In the film a reporter is attacked by a notorious serial killer and to get over her trauma is sent to 'The Colony', a remote mountain resort. But there her problems really begin, as the residents are werewolves.

OK, it doesn't sound that cool at first, but with a script that's as humorous as it is scary, The Howling gave the werewolf genre a grimy edge as well as a wicked sense of humour. The transformation scene is a startling blend of innovative (for the time) prosthetics, though some of the other moments (who can forget that werewolf sex scene?) have dated but still have a fun retro feel to them.

The Howling, though commercially successful, stayed in the shadow of An American Werewolf in London and also suffered a mauling from most critics at the time. This didn't stop the kennel-load of sequels which followed.

Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf hit screens in 1985 and all seemed well with a line-up including Christopher Lee and Sybil Danning plus the author of the original book on board. The movie though is as awkward as its title as Lee looks lost and Danning chews the scenery each time she's on screen. It also suffers from what seems a limited budget with little being made available for the werewolves themselves. Howling III: The Marsupials followed only two years later and went directly to VHS, which is a bad sign for any release. Described as a "quirky comedy!" on some posters, it has nothing to do with the first two movies, plus the relocation to Australia didn't help the budget!

The series was back on track for Howling IV: The Original Nightmare, released in the UK in 1989 which decided to go back to the original text and be more faithful with it. Though limited in budget it's a great shocker, that feels less of a remake but more of a re-interpretation. Howling V: Rebirth the following year continued the upward trend and even though it has more drama than hairy action, it's a good story and the effects are far better than you'd expect for a direct-to-DVD feature.

Howling VI: The Freaks quickly followed in 1991 and although it has the worst effects of the whole run, it actually has one of the best stories concerning a werewolf captured by a circus which is ran by a vampire! It's a tight little movie but wasn't followed by another Howling movie until 1995, Howling VII: New Moon Rising. OK, the seventh movie in a franchise isn't usually the strongest and this is very true with this one. More mockumentary than straight horror it's a sort of NCIS meets The Wolf Man sort of an affair. A strange mix indeed.

The final Howling movie in the series, The Howling Reborn (2011) attempted to make the franchise appeal to a younger audience where teenage animal instincts are uncovered, quite literally. Its not a bad movie; though its connection to any other in the series is by name alone.

For now, The Howling series stops here though; news of a remake/reboot/reimagining has been touted for a long time, much like Dante's other masterpiece from the 1980s, Gremlins.

Top 5 horror movie remakes
Posted on Sunday 25th February 2018

Hollywood: a place of constant invention and where everything should be shiny and new. Well, sometimes for at the moment it seems to be looking to the past for inspiration. This is not always a bad thing as sometimes a remake (or re-imagining as they like to call it!) hits the spot so perfectly that it can be considered an equal to the original so here's our Top 5 remakes! Do you agree and which movies would make your own top 5?

5: Evil Dead (2013)
Fans of the original movie, The Evil Dead had been waiting years for a cinematic sequel. Rumour after rumour followed but no one expected a remake of the story especially when rookie director Fede Alvarez was given the job to bring it back to life. It was backed by Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and Robert Tapert and given a decent budget, but few fans expected it to be so good. Bloody, ultra-violent and incredibly fast paced, it...

Unmissable movies on Horror this March
Posted on Sunday 25th February 2018

The nights may be getting lighter but we're turning to the dark side this March on Horror with a slate of premieres that will have you praying for the dawn. So, beware all you virgins, actors, wayward teens and heroic crusaders, Horror has something to get under your skin!

We start with the network premiere of Cherry Falls on the 2nd where a serial killer seems to be going after virgins, rather than promiscuous types! So, sex parties are the order of the day to try and survive! Sounds like a good idea to us. Then the next night we've a true classic which stars Christopher Walken, Chris Sarandon, Ava Gardner, Burgess Meredith, Sylvia Miles, and Eli Wallach, The Sentinel where a young actress (Cristina Raines) ...

Top 5 werewolf movie transformations
Posted on Saturday 10th February 2018

Come on, admit it! The biggest reason you watch a werewolf movie is to see the much talked-about transformation. You know, the bit of the movie that usually gets all the film budget (no matter how big or small) and the sequence where the rest of the movie will be measured.

Here's our top 5 but what are yours? Don't forget to catch Horror's Season of the Wolf, Saturdays at 10.55pm?

The Wolf Man (1941)
Though not Universal's first werewolf movie, that was Werewolf of London in 1936, this was the biggie. Unleashed in 1941 it was a major success and made Lon Chaney Jr. a real star. His laconic take of a weary man cursed is truly engrossing but what probably makes the movie famous is the transformation scene, well the lack of it as unlike the sequels the main transformation is of his feet! There is a dissolve at the end, but this is backwards, wolf to man but its ...

There's something in the trees... it's coming! Top 5 Werewolf Songs!
Posted on Friday 2nd February 2018

Of all the horror genres out there, probably the Werewolf genre has made the largest footprint on the charts. From Shakira's She Wolf in 2009 to Killer Wolf from Danzig in 1990, the hairy-side of horror has inspired many musical artists, obviously with varying levels of success.

In celebration of Horror's Season of the Wolf, here's our top 5 favourites from the last few decades.

No list worth its fur would start without Werewolves of London from Warren Zevon. Recorded in 1978 and taken from the album Excitable Boy, it's a mainstay of BBC Radio 2, whose listeners incidentally voted that it had the best opening line to a song. Its inclusion on the soundtrack to An American Werewolf in London gave it a cult status but hearing it in the Paul Newman/Tom Cruise 1996 flick The Color of Money gave it a new lease of life. The B-side, Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner was...

Bark at the moon this February on Horror
Posted on Friday 26th January 2018

Horror is taking you deep into the woods during February with a selection of movies that celebrate the finest of fearsome flicks all about Lycanthropy, Season of the Wolf. Each Saturday at 10.55pm we're bringing you tales of terror that are dripping with blood and will have you barking at the moon with delight.

The season starts on the 3rd as Dee Wallace, Christopher Stone, Patrick Macnee and John Carradine battle a brutal beast in Joe Dante's superb feature, The Howling. A female reporter is attacked by a notorious serial killer and to get over her trauma she is sent to 'The Colony', a remote mountain resort. But there her problems really begin, as the residents are werewolves. We bring you contemporary h...

Wes Craven - The Nightmare Man
Posted on Thursday 4th January 2018

"Horror films don't create fear. They release it."

Wesley Earl Craven, Wes to his friends, was born in Cleveland, Ohio August 2nd 1939 and became one of the most respected and acclaimed creatives of his generation. When he died on August 30th 2015 it came as a huge shock to all, especially those of us who heard the news whilst attending FrightFest. Gone was the man who gave the world Krug Stillo, Pluto and Horace Pinker as well as the career defining creation of Freddy Krueger. He made stars of Michael Berryman, Johnny Depp and Robert Englund and rejuvenated the horror genre not once but twice.

Horror will be celebrating the work of Wes Craven throughout January so here's a quick look at...

Horror's Top 10 Films of 2017
Posted on Thursday 21st December 2017

It's been quite the year for horror. From home invasions to adult nappies and right through to cannibalism and dancing clowns, the genre has seen a slew of critical and commercial success over the calendar year. But which were our favourites?

Below, take a look at Horror's favourite films of 2017. We couldn't bare to rank the excellencies, so we settled for alphabetical order. So kicking off with A, we have:

Attack of the Adult Babies

If you're after a movie that's almost beyond description, then Dominic Brunt's Attack of the Adult Babies is for you. At first this satirical shocker seems like Benny Hill on acid with plenty of leggy nurses dressed in seductive uniforms, but the movie...

Wes Craven Season welcomes in 2018 on Horror
Posted on Friday 15th December 2017

Throughout January, Saturday nights at 9pm will be devoted to a Wes Craven Season as Horror Channel presents a retrospective of the late great genre director's career. Four of his supernatural shockers and scream-filled slashers will be broadcast, including the network premieres of serial killer chiller My Soul To Take, his macabre masterpiece The Serpent And The Rainbow, his diabolically electrifying Shocker and the goofy, gory satire The People Under The Stairs.

There are also network premieres for Franck Khalfoun's superior psychological horror Maniac, starring Elijah Wood as a scalp-loving serial killer, David S. Goyer's pulsating possession thriller The Unborn, starring Gary Oldman and Ham...

The Evil In Us and P2 receive their UK TV premieres on Horror Channel in December
Posted on Wednesday 22nd November 2017

Christmas nightmares come early on Horror Channel, as the UK's primary TV destination for genre fans serves up the UK TV premieres of Jason William Lee's slick and stylish modern take on the zombie virus, The Evil In Us and Frank Khalfoun's boundary-pushing crime slasher P2, starring Wes Bentley.

There are also network premieres for Adam Egypt Mortimer's deeply-cutting supernatural revenge chiller Some Kind Of Hate, Ruth Platt's astonishingly bravura art-house horror The Lesson, Travis Oates' powerfully disturbing thriller Don't Blink, starring Mena Suvari and Glen Morgan's gruesome Black Christmas, a remake of the classic 1974 seasonal slasher, starring popular scream queen Mary Elizabeth Winstead....

Horror Channel devotes November to Bloody Brits and rampaging sharks!
Posted on Thursday 19th October 2017

November on Horror Channel has a distinctive cutting-edge with a Saturday night prime-time Bloody British Season, celebrating the new wave of British horror movies that reinvigorated the UK horror industry in the early 2000s. There are 9pm network premieres for Neil Marshall's sensational werewolf debut feature Dog Soldiers (2002) (Saturday 11th), his monstrous all-female star cast follow-up The Descent (2005) (Saturday 25th), Christopher Smith's underground ghost train journey through hell, Creep (2004) (Saturday 18th), and Nick Hamm's psychologically gripping The Hole (2001) (Saturday 4th), with Keira Knightley in her first significant film role.

And the cuts get deeper with a Sharkmania Marathon...

Horror Channel celebrates Stephen King's 70th year and goes Southbound this October.
Posted on Tuesday 3rd October 2017
Works by Stephen King feature heavily this month on Horror Channel, which celebrates the icon's 70th year of one of horror's most prolific and popular authors. There are network premieres for his fearsome feline anthology Cat's Eye, starring James Woods and Drew Barrymore; his darkly weighty cautionary tale Stephen King's Thinner, directed by Tom Holland in his directorial debut; the science-fiction action horror Maximum Overdrive, starring Emilio Estevez; and the 2009 adaptation of his short story Children Of The Corn.

Horror Channel has eleven film premieres in October, including the UK premieres of Southbound, a chiller compendium from the creators of the V/H/S franchise; Mitch Wilson's gruesome...

Horror Channel FrightFest announces line-up for Halloween 2017 event
Posted on Thursday 28th September 2017

Horror Channel FrightFest Halloween 2017 unleashes seven choice shockers for the 7th annual West End Halloween chillorama - a wits-end wallow in all things gruesome, gory and glorious.

This year, the all-day shocktoberfest is at the Empire Haymarket on Sat Oct 28, 2017 and embraces one world, one European and five UK premieres, spanning three continents.

From the emotional making of a low-budget slasher to zombie nightmares, Gothic horrors, an outrageously strange mind cult, a sci-fi alien action extravaganza, a comic strip creature feature and the last word in Killer Clowns, this year-s line-up is an eclectic mix of the quirky, unusual and extreme.

Alan Jones, FrightFest co-director sai...

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