aka THE MARSUPIALS: THE HOWLING III
(Australia - 1987)
Written and directed by Philippe Mora. Cast: Barry Otto, Max Fairchild, Imogen Annesley, Dasha Blahova, Leigh Biolos, Ralph Cotterill, Barry Humphries, Frank Thring, Michael Pate, Jon Ewing, Burnham Burnham, Carole Skinner, Jenny Vuletic, Glenda Linscott, Pieter Van Der Stolk, Andreas Bayonas. (PG-13, 98 mins)
Few horror franchises went as far off the rails and down the shitter as the HOWLING series. One of the three big werewolf movies of 1981 (along with AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON and WOLFEN), Joe Dante's classic THE HOWLING, with its marvelous cast of character actors, Rob Bottin's trailblazing transformation effects, and its sly sense of humor, found critical acclaim and has endured as a fan favorite for nearly 40 years, even if it almost completely deviated from Gary Brandner's 1977 source novel. When a sequel finally arrived in the form of 1985's HOWLING II, alternately subtitled YOUR SISTER IS A WEREWOLF in the US and STIRBA: WEREWOLF BITCH overseas, fans of the 1981 film were appalled. It was instantly hailed as one of the worst sequels of all time, despite the presence of horror icon Christopher Lee giving it some much-needed gravitas, B-movie goddess Sybil Danning frequently baring all, and Reb Brown yelling. It remains one of the most astonishingly terrible horror movies of the 1980s, though its awfulness is strangely endearing if you're in the right mood. It's become a cult favorite for a variety of reasons: the numerous werewolf orgies, the werewolf new wave club with an earworm of a song that will remain stuck in your head 30 years later, or a shot of Danning ripping off her top repeated about 20 times in the closing credits. Looked at in retrospect, it's difficult to defend HOWLING II, but with a proper amount of distance, it has its charms. Considering the justifiably toxic response it got in theaters, it's hard to believe its director, Philippe Mora (MAD DOG MORGAN, THE BEAST WITHIN), was brought back for 1987's unrelated sequel HOWLING III, just out on Blu-ray from Scream Factory because physical media is dead.
COMMUNION), HOWLING III was followed in 1988 by John Hough's dull, South Africa-shot HOWLING IV: THE ORIGINAL NIGHTMARE, a reboot of sorts that was a more faithful adaptation of Brandner's original novel. 1989 saw the release of HOWLING V: THE REBIRTH, an Agatha Christie-like scenario filmed in Budapest and notable mainly for its lack of werewolves and the presence of frequent Mike Leigh star Philip Davis. 1991's HOWLING VI: THE FREAKS is probably the most well-received of the largely unconnected sequels, and unlike HOWLING III, is a somewhat faithful adaptation Brandner's novel The Howling III, if that makes sense. 1995's HOWLING: NEW MOON RISING is universally regarded as one of the worst movies ever made, effectively killing the franchise until 2011's ill-advised, one-and-done DTV reboot THE HOWLING REBORN.