The Howling at 40: a horror movie that gave us something to chew on squib

Joe Dante’s sly and smart breakout, about a reporter uncovering a colony of werewolves, was a fun ride that had space for satire

“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked …”

So begins Allen Ginsberg’s radical poem Howl, which upon close study has absolutely nothing to do with werewolves. And yet it appears on a reporter’s desk in Joe Dante’s horror classic The Howling, one among many blink-or-you’ll-miss it visual jokes that Dante tucks into the movie, like a small-town sheriff scarfing down a can of Wolf-brand chili or an old Little Boy Blue cartoon featuring the Big Bad Wolf that’s airing on TV. His best films are loaded with such peripheral delights, which have the feel of inside jokes, but mostly point to the movie-crazy spirit of a Dante production. The more movies you’ve seen, the more you tend to love Joe Dante.

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