The Howling

“We should never try to deny the beast – the animal within us.” 

After news anchor, Karen (Dee Wallace) suffers from harassing phone calls, the police convince her to help them jail the culprit. A seedy video store, darkness, and terror grip Karen after the fact as she struggles to remember the face of Eddie (Robert Picardo). Upon psychiatric evaluation by the renowned Doctor George Waggner (Patrick Macnee), Karen and her husband Bill (Christopher Stone) venture to the doctor’s retreat. Unfortunately, The Colony is not so much a safe haven for traumatized people as it is for werewolves.

Karen’s Problem
We immediately feel for Karen, and not just because there are memes dogging her name when this woman seems unlikely to demand to speak to a manager. This Karen is introduced to us in a vulnerable situation. She is meeting a man who has been sexually harassing her via the telephone (this movie was shot in the 80s before social media platforms could be used for harassment); the cops that appear to be ready to find her are of course having a hard time finding her; and her husband is either overwhelmed with stress or underwhelmed in his ability to support his wife. Upon meeting Eddie, the name of Karen’s harasser, the cops do find Eddie and appear to kill him, but Karen suffers in the aftermath of this living nightmare.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
In light of her symptoms, Karen appears to have something called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Once thought only to plague combat veterans, more recognition for this disorder of late has revealed that anyone that has suffered a perceived trauma could develop the disorder. This could be any type of abuse at the hands of a “loved” one; it could be a violent incident like a robbery or a witnessed homicide; or it could be confronting a sexual harasser only to watch as he turns into a werewolf.

Nightmares –
Karen is awoken during a daytime nap by her husband, Bill. This is because she shouts, “No” and is shaking. Of course, the fact that she is asleep during the day implies that maybe she is not getting adequate sleep during the night.

Intrusive Thoughts –
When she attempts to go back on camera following Eddie’s death, Karen is plagued by bright lights and bad memories. She cannot focus for her television appearance and is promptly escorted backstage. Before shuffling up to The Colony, Karen panics when Bill tries to have sex with her. This is thought to be the result of post-trauma following a sexual assault or similar situation. Bill again proves to be an unsympathetic douchebag.mmthehowling2

This is topped by the arrival of the couple at The Colony. Once there, Marsha (Elisabeth Brooks), a confident beauty is ready to pounce on Bill. Karen recognizes this instantly and rightly accuses Bill of getting tangled up in Marsha, which he responds to by smacking his wife across the face.

Seriously, fuck that guy.

Delusions – 
On the one hand, Karen’s psychosis could be so pronounced that the evolution of these people into werewolves is actually all in her head.
Then again, there are those two amateur investigators on the case…

After Karen’s struggles to cope with Eddie, Karen’s friend Terry (Belinda Balaski) and way-more-supportive-than-Bill boyfriend, Chris (Dennis Dugan) delve into Karen’s situation a little further. They visit a bookstore (watch the video); keep their ears and eyes open; and even watch…The Wolf Man! The couple begins to believe in the werewolf idea along with Karen, which makes one wonder if this whole thing is really in Karen’s head, after all.

 

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