Director Joe Dante [Gremlins 1&2, Small Soldiers] definitely knows how to take advantage of all the special effects. Like a well sequenced fireworks show, he starts of slow, giving us at taste of what is to come and then masterfully builds to the grand finale. Looking at his bio on IMDB, he has consistently worked as a director but I'm surprised he was not given bigger movies to direct. He definitely knows what he's doing and I enjoy the way be puts together a film.
The Howling also stars a wonderful supporting cast including veteran character actors John Carradine, slim Pickins and Patrick Macnee [The Avengers]. I especially enjoyed Elisabeth Brooks as the femme fatale werewolf Marsha. She has the most amazing eyes and is perfect for the part. The entire cast does a great job with this film and Ms. Wallace holds it all together with a great central character that is both vulnerable and empowered.
Most critics probably don't consider The Howling to be a classic but it's a wonderful example of the great horror movies that came out in the 80's before synth tracks and big mall hair ruled the day. I've watched this one many times over the years and it never gets old. It's a classic to me!
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.