15 October 2016 | MartinHafer
A great, creepy atmosphere but too much exposition make this one mediocre...when it could have been better.
Back in the 1970s and 80s, Barbara Eden starred in about two dozen made for TV movies. In most of the ones I've seen, she played a lovely woman hunted or haunted by something or someone...and "A Howling in the Woods" is no different. While it's not nearly as good as her classic "The Stranger Within" (where she was impregnated by aliens!!), the mood of this 1971 film is quite nice...it's just a shame the script wasn't worked out better.
Eden plays Liza, a woman who's just left her husband* and has gone home to see her family who lives out in the country (it was filmed at lovely Lake Tahoe). However, despite being gone for years, she is not greeted as an old friend but with a strange coldness...and in a few cases, downright unfriendliness. In fact, throughout the film the only person that is really nice to you is the husband--who actually seems like a swell guy. Additionally, Liza's father is supposedly gone to Mexico...leaving Liza's step-mother behind. But this story makes little sense and Liza starts to wonder what the secret is that the town is hiding (it turns out to be two, actually) and what happened to her father.
Throughout all this, there is a great sense of foreboding--something these made for ABC films really did well. Sure, the song they kept repeating throughout the story (it's apparently by Bach) is great, but it was repeated too often--the only problem with the otherwise creepy mood. Otherwise, the viewer is kept on the edge of their seat watching and waiting and waiting.
Now this comes to the mysteries. They are NOT so good because in both cases there needs to be a very lengthy exposition by folks to ultimately explain them instead of letting the truth unfold more naturally. This is actually pretty sloppy...and disappointing. Still, the movie is a decent time-passer and a great excuse to see the lovely Barbara Eden in action once again. Worth seeing but certainly not a must-see.
*By the way, I loved seeing Larry Hagman cast as Eden's husband in the film- --and I kept expected Eden to call him 'master' or try to grant his every wish or hear the "I Dream of Jeannie" theme!