If last week's edition of our "Ways Not To Die" series wasn't enough of a hint we've been on a Howling kick for some godforsaken reason lately... actually let me step that back, I know why it happened -- I posted about Ryan Gosling playing the "Wolfman" in an upcoming reboot and the Howling series of movies came up in the comments and that got me to watch the first three in the span of a couple of days. Fascinating, I'm sure.
Anyway I'm pretty sure I'm going to stop where I am (I might watch the fourth one for the supposed Michael T. Weiss of it if I'm feeling especially vulnerable) because, as insane as the films progressively get -- and the third film, my god, is really as crazy as they come -- they're also excruciatingly bad. That said the first movie here, Joe Dante's 1981 original, is the best of the bunch and even if I think it's often a bit of a snooze there's a lot to recommend, the least of which most certainly is not the rando scene where none less that the legend Dick Miller shows up as the owner of an occult bookstore.
IMDb says The Other Side bookstore was a real place (at 6607 Hollywood Blvd) in Los Angeles in 1981 when the film was made, but I can't find anything else about it -- there's a souvenir shop there today, called World's Best Souvenirs (check it out on Google Maps). Anyway it looks like it was a fun place if it was indeed real -- reminiscent of Giles' occult boutique called The Magic Box on Buffy. Any old-school Angelenos who know if it was a real place or not?
The Howling is structured so strangely, with probably way too many characters drifting around in its story -- I know they needed victims for the wolves to eat but it feels like Dee Wallace's main character Karen (ha she's such a Karen) gets sidelined for too much of the story while Belinda Balaski's Terry here does all of the werewolf-sleuthing that Karen probably ought to be doing herself. You add in their respective menfolk and The Howling is as damned cluttered as...
... an occult bookshop run by Dick effing Miller. (The Taxidermied Armadillo of it all!) That's not to say I don't love Belinda Balaski in this movie -- honestly I think I probably like Terry more than I do Karen? And that could've been director Joe Dante's intention -- Terry's death-scene is really truly awful to witness, even despite Joe Dante's pitch-dark humor ladled liberally on plus that slightly goofy dog-eared werewolf these films insist upon giving us. Poor Terry.