Why 17 days? Because 17 is my favorite number.
Turns out there’s a reason. Jeff stayed out of radio because was too busy being the werewolf in The Howling.
The Howling is a pretty cool movie in its own right, that rare werewolf picture that actually pulls it off. We’re not talking fanged teddy bears prowling around in torn clothes like Lon Chaney Jr. in The Wolf Man. Furthermore, this film was way before CGI made it possible to really muck up the story like the 2010 Wolfman remake starring Benecio Del Toro. The Howling is a case of real horror geeks making a real werewolf movie, pulling out all the stops to shock and horrify us in ways we never imagined.
The story of The Howling follows television anchorwoman Karen White (Dee Wallace) who has an on-the-street werewolf encounter so terrifying that she is sent to a mountain retreat for psychological recovery. While there, she and her husband (played by Wallace’s future husband Christopher Stone) discover that some of the others at the retreat are not what they seem, and soon this late-70s post-war, baby-boomer, faux-hippie commune is overrun with werewolves.
The whole reason to see The Howling is the groovy special effects by Rob Bottin, especially the transformation scenes, which I still think work better than those in An American Werewolf in London (although the latter is the better film). This means that my main man Jeff Shank is the highlight of the film, even if his lanky frame is hidden under mounds of werewolf fur. The werewolves of this film are lofty beasts with slathering jaws and soulless eyes. I never thought a werewolf in a film would terrify me, especially after that lame Wolfman-on-a-cruise-ship episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker (discussed later in the 17 Days list), but I must admit that while driving home from the theater back in 1981, I began to wonder what I would do if one of The Howling’s towering lycanthropes darted out in front of my car.
These days, it’s cool to hang with the man behind the mask, and sometimes Jeff's brother Steve joins us as well. Steve and Jeff, it turns out, worked for Roger Corman’s New World Pictures (Jeff does a spot-on imitation of Roger), and they both played monsters in another iconic B-movie, Humanoids From the Deep. That movie was about sea creatures that come to land to mate with humans, and it starred the sexy Ann Turkel, whose poster graced my dorm room wall in college.
Previous Days of Halloween:
Day 1 – Baby’s Breath
Day 2 – Phantom of the Paradise
Day 3 – The Shining (miniseries)
Day 4 – 28 Days Later
Day 5 – 28 Weeks Later
Day 6 – Dawn of the Dead (original)
Day 7 – Dawn of the Dead (remake)