Hello everyone this is Jaye your Horrormadam bringing you an amazing new paperback called The Complete History of the Howling by Bryn Curt James Hammond. Bryn is a British-based best-selling author, journalist, TV personality and inductee into the 2018 Hall of Horror. Known for his thought provoking and in-depth books A Case For Murder: Brittany Murphy Files, and A Case For Murder: Anna Nicole Smith Files.
He now brings us the most complete and penetrating look at the History of the 1981 film The Howling and all of its sequels. The only book that takes the reader into the making of all eight feature films, with new interviews from the series cast and crew and takes a thorough look at the film’s creation inspired by Gary Brandner, who started The Howling Books in 1977 and developed them into a trilogy. If you consider yourself a hardcore fan of The Howling, then this is the book for you!
So let us get to the questions for Bryn and find out more about The Complete History of the Howling…
Why The Howling?
My decision to cover The Howling saga was partly down to my love of the fourth instalment in the long running franchise. It’s a movie that can be chalked up as being very ‘Marmite’, creating debates among genre fans, and I’m of the half that got a kick out of how bad it was.Steve Johnson (XFX) really made the most of what he had and developed some interesting transformations. I’m not sure how much was his own imagination or how much was the Diet Coke; whatever it was, it blew my mind on my first viewing. So, as in “Why The Howling”, I guess that’s my reasoning.
Why did you take a step away from writing true crime to write a compendium of The
Writing true crime is extremely heavy going. You’re dealing with a sensitive topic that needs you to be in a headspace that is exuberantly depressing. The case files are often draining to read because of the level of detail about the deceased; whether it be the full autopsy report or the police interrogations in the aftermath, it makes the individual extremely human once more because of the way the case files are fleshed out. At times I found myself in a state of mourning and I needed a separate project to allow me space to breathe, so a compendium was the perfect fit for me to escape.
Why do you think the public has such a fascination with lycanthrope lore?
That’s an interesting one. I really don’t know why there is such a fascination with
lycanthrope lore; psychologically maybe the explanation lies somewhere between our
connection to our own dark side, which is ingrained into our very DNA, or our lust at times to escape and be someone entirely different, and/or the union of havoc once the man becomes the beast. We have all been in a situation where we’ve seen red and had the capability of walking away but find ourselves acting like a bull in a china shop, leaving only mess and destruction behind. Psychoanalysis aside for one moment though, it might just be down to the often outrageous FX these kinds of films serve up.
You were extremely thorough in your research and writing. Did you encounter any problems obtaining information or any troubles with interviews?
Any written work comes with such problems. Often it was that the performers had moved on and no longer wished to be a part of or be known for that earlier project, or in some cases time scheduling conflicts caused issues between the talent and my deadline.
I did have the occasional artist get upset when publicity was fairly rampant and they were not involved in the project. This occurred with one artist who basically stated it was his projects I was writing about and he’d not been contacted, when in fact I had approached him three or four times and although he read my emails he continued to ghost me. Eventually we spoke, and he was less than impressed that I didn’t kiss his butt. I said I could accommodate various ways we could do the interview but there was always something that cropped up, so I dropped him so he could focus on walking his dog or whatever else he used as an excuse I also clashed with two female leads from the series who will remain nameless. One actress, who gained a Golden Raspberry Award for the Worst Supporting Actress, demanded a five-figure sum for contributing to the book, so I graciously told her to find the nearest fire exit. Another was dismissive of her involvement in one of the films and basically wasn’t very pleasant, but we later worked it out and I drew a line under the experience and we ended on good terms. What I found frustrating was how dismissive and pretentious specific talent was about their involvement. The former lead, who’s made a living from her role as a lambasted sex bomb whose breast assets blew her the lucky curved ball in the right direction, continues to take, take, take without giving much back unless it involves the green stuff. I guess it’s just her way of escaping awkward moments, And hey, she’s paying her own way by making various unmemorable impromptu appearances, so I guess she doesn’t need to be involved in my Howling History companion book.
The Howling was released the same year as An American Werewolf in London. Did you
learn anything about the duality of these films coming out together?
Each project was promoted to movie-goers in a very different manner, so they didn’t really compete with each other at the time. The Howling was sold as a slasher to cash in on the popularity of Friday the 13th, while An American Werewolf in London was a much more generic campaign. AAWIL was additionally released later than The Howling and Wolfen and had time to fix the problems The Howling and Wolfen faced when trying to find their target audience. So in terms of duality to get bums on seats that wasn’t really a thing. There were a few issues when it came to the hiring of Rick Baker, and Baker eventually signed onto AAWIL and his prodigy, Robin Bottin, took on The Howling project as his replacement.
Both films had iconic special effects transformations, both of which were worked on by Rick Baker. Did this change the aspect of physical effects vs camera effects?
Before The Howling came along, werewolf transformations had been achieved with lap
dissolves and progressive make-up appliances. The Howling really set the bar and certainly pushed the boundaries of development, but in fact it was Dick Smith that came up with the physical onscreen transformation. He had developed a specific technology for a transformation sequence in Altered States so it should be Smith and Altered States that receives credit for the advancement in physical effects vs camera effects but The Howling did push the envelope and similar methods were also used on AAWIL.
I don’t think Smith gets as much credit as he deserves. He single-handedly created the
combination of make-up with on-set practical special effects and even developed three foam latex pieces for facial prosthetic. Previously prosthetic face masks were made in one piece, which restricted the actor’s facial expressions. So I’d have to say while The Howling showed off some impressive FX and paved the way in which werewolf transformations are achieved the industry had the technology already.
What did you learn about how The Howling franchise developed?
The Howling franchise was a mess lol. There were far too many cooks in the kitchen and
nobody remembered how to ignite the oven after they had turned it off.
Any fun little teasers that you have to engage my readers?
Well, several of the crew were high as kites while making IV, V, VI and VII. Howling IV
was partly developed under the Cannon Films umbrella and they’re on-set safety methods were not very orthodox. The movie also has an alternative version and there are various cuts available, which included a longer sex scene and varying scene orders. No one really wanted to continue the series past Joe Dante’s original; it was more of a financial decision. Hemdale Film Corporation picked it up and moved forward with it but it failed to garner the same attention or commercial success as the original film or Hemdale’s other horror production, Return of the Living Dead. Howling V had such a minuscule budget they reused the werewolf costume from the fourth film but the crew could not work the animatronics so ended up keeping the werewolf in the shadows.
Contrary to popular belief there is no additional gore in Howling V and what you see on
screen is what was shot. The only cut footage was additional dialogue that had no real context in the film’s proceedings. Howling VII, besides being a terrible movie, suffered as much while in production as it did when it eventually made it to VHS through New Line Cinema. Most of the cast and crew were arrested only days before the cameras began rolling and there was a huge debate on how they were going to execute the SFX.
And the final teaser is that The Howling Reborn had Dee Wallace set to return to reprise her role, and it had been planned that, had the film been a success, they were going to adapt it into a series on a VOD platform. Sadly it wasn’t to be, and it was accused of cashing in on The Twilight films. The Complete History of The Howling is the definitive Howling companion and hopefully the teasers above will entice your audience to go and buy my book from Amazon.com. I really can’t stress enough how much love and compassion went into crafting the final paperback.
What are you working on now?
Currently, I’m working on The Complete History of The Amityville Horror and finishing A Case for Murder Aaliyah Files. My TV series Pop Culture Pulse is about to start filming, so it’s all go!
I want to thank Bryn so much for taking the time to answer my questions and in such a comprehensive way! I really appreciate it. I also wanted to reach out to Nick Stead who did the new unofficial story arc in the book. Nick is famous for his Hybrid Series which also deals with the supernatural lore of werewolves and vampires.
Nick, how did you get involved with The Complete History of the Howling?
It was really thanks to a mutual fan on Twitter asking if me and Bryn
would work together on a collaboration that led to me being invited on
board The Complete History of the Howling. I met with Bryn not long
after and it was his idea for me to ‘do what I do best’ and write a
short story arc for it.
How did you approach your story arc?
Bryn gave me the creative freedom to do whatever I wanted with the
story arc as long as it was just under 3500 words and based on one of
the movies. So my first port of call was to rewatch each film in the
franchise. I know Bryn loves Howling 2 and 4 but my personal favourite
is the first one, so those were the main three I focused on.
I really treated the story like a bonus scene that could have been
slotted into any of the movies, and it ended up being the first
Howling which inspired me. The idea actually came one night while I
was laid in bed with my mind buzzing (I have a lot of problems with
insomnia as my brain never knows when to switch off!), and the scene I
was imagining came just after where the first Howling leaves off,
where Karen White has transformed on live TV and we’re shown a few
people’s reactions. From there it was just a case of shaping that idea
into a short plot which would work in roughly the amount of words I
had, then getting to work on it. I did re-watch various scenes in the
Howling a few times while I was writing, as I really wanted to get the
feel of the movie into my story and the right characterisation for the
character I took from the film.
What was your interest in The Howling previously?
My interest in the Howling movies really comes from my love of
werewolves, which I’ve had for as far back as I can remember. I’m not
sure what started my love of them exactly but it could be partly down
to the bullying I suffered at school. I always joke I’m like Hagrid
out of Harry Potter – I love anything with big fangs and claws and a
taste for meat. But wolves were always my favourite animals so I think
when I first came across werewolves, it was something to do with the
idea of transforming into one of these creatures I was so in awe of,
plus all the power that comes with it, that caught my imagination. But
more than that, something about the kind of bipedal werewolves like we
see in the first Howling movie really spoke to me. That mix of wolf
and man in one awesome form with all the advantages of both species –
I would have given anything for that power as a kid, and it’s
something I never grew out of. Werewolves will always be my favourite
mythological creature and any movie which successfully manages to
capture all I love about them in the story line and the design of the
werewolves will always rank highly in my DVD collection. The first
Howling does exactly that – the effects are amazing for its time and
the look of the werewolves is just the right mix of wolf and man. The
other movies in the franchise are enjoyable as well for other reasons
but it’s really the first and The Howling Reborn which speak to me as
a werewolf fan. Though I could have done with less of the romance in
The Howling Reborn!
It has been an honour to be given the opportunity to be involved with
The Complete History of the Howling when I’ve always been such a big
werewolf fan, and I’ve really enjoyed working with Bryn. He’s a really
fun guy to hang out with and a good friend I’d never have met otherwise!
I also want to thank Nick so much for taking his time to answer my questions! I will be doing a followup interview with him to introduce you all to The Hybrid books and help you get to know him as an author better.
My last reach out was to Dee Wallace herself to see if she had any comments on her portrayal of Karen White in the original The Howling.
The Howling was one of the favorite moments of my career! I was starring with my fiancé and working with Joe Dante. How lucky can a girl get!
I want to thank everyone involved again and I do hope that you go check this book out and all of Bryn and Nicks works!
https://t.co/DGNziV68Sa?amp=1 to find on Amazon
https://www.imdb.com/name/nm2505251/ Bryn Curt J Hammond on IMDB