When it was Andy Muschietti’s turn to answer a fan question during New Line’s ScareDiego session at SDCC on which horror movies he would like to remake, he instantly shook werewolf fans to the core with his answer: The Howling. The director of It Chapter II said that “he would love to remake” the classic 1981 werewolf movie.
The Howling follows a city news reporter and her husband on a trip to a mountain resort after an encounter with a serial killer goes terribly wrong (as if it could go any other way). Once at the resort, she slowly discovers that the violence she left back at the city is also present in the wilderness, only in the form of a community of werewolves.
Werewolves in film have mostly fallen victim to the curse of CGI. What we’ve been treated to in recent years is a series of digital monstrosities that sometimes capture the relentless sadism that werewolves embody, but mostly boils down to versions of the monster that fail to measure up to the full make-up and prosthetic-heavy creatures of the 1980s, or even those featured in the Hammer and Universal films decades prior for that matter.
There have been some strong examples of practical effects werewolves as of late, with The Cabin in the Woods (2012), Late Phases (2014), Ginger Snaps (2000), Cursed (2004), and even Universal’s The Wolfman (2010) reboot among them. Unfortunately, the last two movies were not well received, and one of the best ones from the list, the one from Cabin in the Woods, only appears in the final act of the movie. The anthology-like horror movie Trick ‘r Treat (2007) features a segment with impressive werewolf designs and the new Creepshow series from Shudder looks like it’ll feature a non-CGI werewolf of its own. The first Underworld (2003) movie also features some make-up effects, but it blends them with CGI.
Should Muschietti’s Howling ever come to fruition, here are some Do’s and Don’ts that I hope make for a great adaptation of the werewolf movie, maybe even one that could rival the original.
- Do not make the werewolf CGI. I repeat, NO CGI WEREWOLF. And this really goes for anyone thinking of making a werewolf movie in the future. Each and every one of the iconic werewolves ever put on the big screen is created with make-up and prosthetics. The Howling’s werewolf is particularly memorable because we get to appreciate just how much of a nightmare this creature really is, in full detail. There is a sense of detachment with CGI that often dampens the horror these things can muster with practical effects.
- The 1981 movie explored violence at a time where murder rates in America were steadily climbing. It made a comment on just how random it could be and how dangerous it was to live in a world where strangers where no longer innocent bystanders. They could be serial killers, perverts, or kidnappers. A Howling remake would have to find a way to make its werewolf be the embodiment of something just as dangerous in today’s America.
- The original movie was not devoid of comedy. In fact, there are some genuinely funny bits involving the werewolf. Although the director, Joe Dante, never turned the wolf into a running joke, nor did he allow it to get in the way of its horror. Measure the laughs to cut some of the tension in the messier bits, but let the mood remain drenched in terror.
- Also, no CGI werewolf. Did I say this one already? Yes? Then it bears repeating. No CGI werewolf!
There’s a lot of wishful thinking here, but if Muschietti shows an interest in remaking The Howling then, for the love of everything that’s holy, get him behind the camera ASAP.
For more on The Howling from The Beat, click here for a look at the limited-edition statue of the film’s iconic werewolf.
I wholeheartedly agree on the CGI. I respectfully propose one more addendum:
Do not repeat the biggest sin of the original and pull the punch with the final transformation. It completely sucks you out of the film and actually makes it less sympathetic, not more. No cutesy Fizzgig werewolf, please.
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