THE HOWLING – film analysis
The fable of the noble savage is something this movie perpetuates. Deep rooted neurosis is caused by the repression of natural re-occurring desires. The Colony is a cult looking for born again werewolves, much like born again Christians. Red lighting in the beginning and end used to represent intimacy, transformation, and horror. The Howling is a battle within the mind and spirit. It’s a battle of humanity versus animal instinct fought in the trenches of the medulla oblongata for the fate of the neo-cortex. Primal desires can overshadow reasoning and logic, turning man to beast, or in the case of The Howling, man to werewolf.
A jungle of neon clouds the senses just as it confuses and scrambles radio signals and broadband communication. The television is the retina of the mind’s eye, a reflection of true subconscious desire. Television static is reasoning clouding desire, subjugating it and repressing it. Words and images may escape through the fuzz but they are fragmented misrepresentations of their original intent, twisted and often times confusing. To escape the neon static that clouds the soul and confuses the mind one must leave the urban jungle return to nature; return to yourself. Incompetence and uncertainty are products of a clouded mind, of one who does not understand the longings of their inner beast, or who are afraid to act out on it.
Fear springs from this uncertainty, for if one does not know themselves then what can they know? Fear is not for the id, the impulsive; the passionate do not experience true fear. Fear is manufactured through the conscious mind, therefore it is a product of the neo-cortex, of humanity and logic and compassion, for true compassion is the fear of loss, the recognition of potential disaster. Eddie doesn’t experience fear because he is the living embodiment of the id. He has been reborn to accept the “gift” given to us all, the gift of a life without worry or fear, a life of simplicity and survival, of embracing the beast within.
Karen is nearly crippled with fear. Her every movement is cautious and calculated; every potential threat analyzed and mulled over. Karen internalizes her struggles with the beast, with the id; her journey through the film is a struggle against Mother Nature and all her carnal influence. Karen cannot see Eddie because she cannot accept the id. She abstains from it. Eddie wants to give her a piece of his mind; a symbolic offer to embrace impulsive desires, to shed the chains of repression that have lead to her deeply rooted neurosis, to kill the fear by becoming one with it.
But Karen seems incapable of accepting what Eddie has to offer. Her conscious mind reactively buries it into her subconscious, leaving her dazed and confused as if in a trance. Her civilized mind cannot readily express what her primitive subconscious is trying to tell her. She needs time to process the information, she needs time for Eddie’s gift to transform her from within, and she struggles against this metamorphosis throughout the film. She struggles to suppress the id with the fabric of her being, as the id would rob her of her civilized identity, it would consume her and transform her into something new, something dangerous, and uproot her social status, severing ties with humanity as she gives herself over to the natural world, and to a certain degree the supernatural one as well.