The Film (3.5/5)
Tinto Brass's film The Howl, to offer a comparison, is like the cinematic equivalent to William S. Burrough's Nova Tetralogy (Naked Lunch, The Soft Machine, The Ticket that Exploded, and Nova Express) . The content itself is not similar, but the way the narrative works is. The Howl is not a linear film, it has a story, but like the cut-up works of Burrough's, it is told in a non-conventional way. The story involves a woman who on her wedding day leaves her groom at the altar, and wanders off with a strange man she just met. She then wanders with him through strange lands featuring cannibals, lunatics, and naked hippies who dance with ducks.
As stated earlier, do not go into this film expecting a clear narrative. It feels like an even less linear version of Jodorowsky's Fando y Lis, mixed with elements of Herzog's Fata Morgana,and if you like those films, you will definitely find something to enjoy in The Howl. I have read articles on The Howl that delve into the symbolic nature of the film, and it's place as a political allegory for the times in which it was made. However, The Howl works best for me, as a conscious substitute for a dream. A lot of things happen during the running time of the film, and not all of them make sense. The narrative feels like a trip to Oz, without the yellow brick road guiding the way.
Cult Epics has provided The Howl with a 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The transfer is interlaced, and the quality varies throughout the film. Elements of grain and scratching are evident throughout the film. The transfer allegedly comes from the vaults of Tinto Brass himself, so it appears that this is probably the best quality version of the film that will be available for some time.
The Howl is presented in an Italian mono track with optional English subtitles. The sound is clear for the most part with some minor hissing throughout.
The main extra on the DVD is an audio commentary by Tinto Brass himself. The commentary is in English, and is quite informative. The only other extras are the trailers for other Cult Epics Tinto Brass films.
If you are a fan of avant-garde cinema, this film is a must see. The lack of a linear narrative might be off-putting to some viewers, but the Howl is overall an excellent DVD of an great and strange movie. Cult Epics has done a great thing releasing this formerly rare film to the home video viewing public.