“Repression. Repression is the father of neurosis, of self-hatred. Stress results when we fight against our impulses.” These are the first words spoken in 1981’s The Howling, but the razor-slashed titles already told you exactly where those impulses will lead.
Directed by cult hero Joe Dante (Gremlins) and written by the less likely John Sayles (Lone Star), this is a bona fide werewolf classic with gothic thrills and a sly sense of humour. And despite TV news sequences that’d make Ron Burgundy blush, it’s surprisingly restrained until the bloody special effects take centre stage.
The Howling is followed by 1974’s The Beast Must Die: a Christie-style mystery that pauses so you – yes, you, the audience! – can decide who’s the big bad wolf.