The original Howling is widely considered one of the “good” Werewolf movies, along with the original Universal classic the Wolf Man as well as Ernest Gets Eaten By A Werewolf. I would not argue that the Howling is a good flick, although it has been many full moons since I saw it.
Howling II is noteworthy for having the subtitle: “Your Sister Is A Werewolf” and the venerable Christopher Lee in the cast. Incidentally, “Your Sister Is A Werewolf” was voted the least effective playground taunt of 1985.
Howling III: The Marsupials, reviewed by my colleague Brian Alterman here, took the groundbreaking step of giving werewolves pouches. Sure, they’ll devour you just the same as any other demonic hellbeast, but that’s only the beginning! They’ll do it while having pouches! Is your spine-tingling yet?
After the pouch thing, not a lot of places to go, right? Well, today’s subject, Howling IV: The Original Nightmare allegedly, went back to the source. The “source” being the novel the Howling — and Howling IV was allegedly more true to the material than the original film. So the third sequel is in actuality a remak e billed as a sequel while being dubbed “Original.” Got it.
Based on the finished results, being true to the source material was a really bad idea because the source material must suck, if Howling IV is any indication. To be fair, I have not and will not read the actual book, due to my well documented unliteracy problem.
The plot of Howling IV: The Original Nightmarehas a beleaguered writer beginning to go a little nuts, seeing a terribly ugly nun appearing and disappearing in front of her eyes. So, to get her mind off her troubles, her bland and disinterested husband takes her to an exotic vacation to a secluded, wooded area where the nun was killed by werewolves.
Granted, the husband is not privy to this information, but that’s no excuse for shoddy, shoddy vacation research. In fairness, before Google it was much harder to pinpoint the exact location where the nun haunting your crazy wife was murdered by werewolves. They were simpler times, in a way.
Once at Lupine Ground Zero our heroine continues to see things and hear things. Not everything about the vacation is bad. Their annoying poodle runs away and is beheaded. But it’s downhill from there!
Our heroine she asks one of the townspeople about the wolf howling she hears at night, only to be assured that there are no wolves around here, and she probably heard “a cow.”
Yes, a howling cow. Let’s be honest, a werecow would have been one of the few things that IV could have done to top the pouches in III.
There are a lot of problems with Howling IV. For one thing, it mistakes tedium for intrigue.
In the first hour there is one werewolf attack, and they only kill off two random hikers who mean nothing to the plot. The director has the uncanny ability to reduce tension from scenes that would otherwise have it.
It doesn’t help that the heroine perpetually sees mildly scary things and they turn out to be illusions approximately 800 times. You know that scary movie canard — aaaah, it’s ghost! No, wait, it’s just my dispassionate husband who’s cheating on me with a werechick. Perhaps realizing the trick was not effective the first go round, the director opts to repeat it several dozen times. They say practice makes perfect. They lie.
Similarly, you would think that by making numerous, low-budget/low-brow sequels to the Howling, eventually they’d get better at it. Wrong again, Sunshine. Howling IV: The Original Nightmare is beyond lame — if not for the crack about “It must have been a cow,” it would have zero redeeming qualities.
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