8.04.2008

The WTF? Worst Films Extravaganza Presents: The Howling III: The Marsupials (1987)

DIRECTED BY
Philippe Mora

STARRING
Barry Otto - Dr. Harry Beckmeyer
Imogen Annesley - Jerboa
Leigh Biolos - Donny Martin
Max Fairchild - Thylo
Dagmar Blahova - Olga Gorki
Ralph Cotterill - Professor Sharp
Frank Thring - Jack


Genre - Horror/Comedy

Running Time - 98 Minutes

Score - 0.5 Howls Outta 4


In 1981, PIRANHA and future GREMLINS director Joe Dante made the werewolf film, THE HOWLING. While it was overshadowed by John Landis' AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, THE HOWLING still found an audience and became not only a cult film but a horror classic. THE HOWLING was one of those films where the story slowly played out while building to really impressive werewolf transformations by Rob Bottin that proves today that hand-made SFX are better than the CGI bullshit we see right now, especially in werewolf movies.

Since THE HOWLING was successful, a sequel was released 4 years later with the subtitle YOUR SISTER IS A WEREWOLF. Not directed by Joe Dante but by Philippe Mora, THE HOWLING II has been considered one of the worst horror films ever made. After watching it months ago, I can't dispute that title. Except for Christopher Lee, a cool theme song, a werewolf menage a trois, and 18 shots of Sybil Danning exposing two of the most beautiful breasts I have ever seen, YOUR SISTER IS A WEREWOLF is a waste of time [unless you're in the mood for a laugh].

The movie bombed, but that didn't stop Philippe Mora was directing, producing, and writing another HOWLING sequel sub-titled THE MARSUPIALS. If that doesn't evoke fear in your hearts, I don't know what will. Apparently Mora thought it'd be genius to not involve anything from the previous two films, instead on focusing on a new breed of werewolf that's part human, part wolf, and part marsupial. Mora also tries to play it "tongue-in-cheek", attempting to make the film aware of how silly it is. Like a sub-title called THE MARSUPIALS wouldn't have done that to begin with. Mora is so proud of this film that in his director's commentary on the DVD, he calls it the "best film of 1986". Funny, since the film came out in 1987. Maybe the "because it wasn't released" part was edited out or something.

Anyway, THE HOWLING III: THE MARSUPIALS is not one of the best films of any year. Hell, it's not even a mediocre film. This is a bad film on so many levels that part of the time, I didn't even understand what the fuck this film was about. Hopefully in my review, I'll attempt to figure out the point of THE MARSUPIALS. So let's jump into HOWLING III's pouch and see how a pretty interesting idea on paper totally got shredded on film.

PLOT
Starting with some archival footage from 1905 shot by his grandfather, Professor Harry Beckmeyer (Barry Otto) attempts to prove that werewolves existed not only in Australia but Russia as well. As we get away from this subplot for a while, we enter the main plot - where we meet some hot chick named Jerboa (Imogen Annesley), who lives in a small tribe in Australia and runs away before her father Thylo (Max Fairchild) rapes her. I guess he likes to keep in the family. Anyway, Jerboa travels to the big city [Sydney] where she meets Donny (Leigh Biolos). Donny works as an assistant director for a horror film called SHAPE SHIFTERS PART 8 and wants Jerboa to star in it due to her stunning looks. Relunctant at first, Jerboa agrees and helps Donny and fat director Jack (Frank Thring) make the B-movie.

Since this is a ridiculous film, Donny and Jerboa fall instantly in love and have sweaty and smelly animal sex without protection since a B-horror movie refuses to believe that AIDS and other terrifying STDs exist. Shit, it could have helped upped the horror factor in this film. Later, they go to a wrap party for the film and Jerboa is greatly effected by the strobe lights that shine on her. It causes her to transform into a werewolf but collapses before she can do any damage. Jerboa is taken to a hospital, where doctors notice she has a hairy pouch where her belly button should be. Beckmeyer is notified about this and proves to everyone that werewolves do exist. However before Jerboa can be experimented on, three werewolves dressed like nuns kill people in the hospital and help Jerboa escape.

After some more bullshit involving a russian werewolf who moonlights as a ballerina and more tribal stuff with Thylo, we learn that Jerboa is pregnant with Donny's baby. Donny and Beckmeyer find her, attempting to protect Jerboa and her tribe after learning they are descendants of some Tasmanian Tiger or something by running away from army hunters who want to put werekangawolves into extinction. Or something like that. My head hurts just thinking about this crap.

REVIEW
I have three words for THE HOWLING III: THE MARSUPIALS:

WHAT THE FUCK!?

This has to be one of the weirdest and most confusing films I have ever seen in my life. This is a really bad flick in every way. Some of it is unintentionally funny and memorable for all the wrong reasons, but THE MARSUPIALS is one of the worst sequels I have ever seen and a lowlight in werewolf films. THE HOWLING this ain't. This is something else entirely.

What's funny is that Philippe Mora actually had a pretty interesting idea for the film. Claiming that werewolves may have marsupial DNA in them as well caught my attention because it's a novel idea for the subgenre. And the Tasmanian Tiger that's mentioned to be an ancestor for these werewolves was indeed a real animal that went extinct many years ago, so at least that wasn't made up for the sake of entertaining people. The problem is that nothing is done with this idea, instead treating it like an afterthought. Hell, we don't even learn about this Tasmanian Tiger until close to the end where archival footage is shown about it. Apparently according to legend, a human and a TasmanianTiger fell in love and mated, creating these creatures. The tribespeople can even summon the spirit of this animal and become a giant werewolf, or in actuality a tall dude in a bad werewolf costume with a noticeable zipper. Anyway, I have a problem with this because I still like to know where the wolf part enters in if a human mated with a marsupial. Was the person a werewolf? Did the marsupial have wolf blood in its biology? I don't even think Maury Povich will be able to figure this crap out! Nothing is explained in detail, so why bring it up?

This is also attempts at social commentary in the script. Especially when it comes to prejudice and racism between humans and wereroos...or kangawolves...or whatever these things are called in this sequel. It's brought up slightly that humans want to experiment on these beasts and feel that all of them should be eliminated because they're a threat to society. We have armies tracking them down and eventually the government gives them amnesty, but it's never explored more than that. It's contradictory anyway because even with amnesty, the werewolves aren't allowed to show their animal identities in public without humans being terrified. So what's the point?

And the structure of the screenplay is severely flawed. Things happen way too quickly for the viewer to feel comfortable with the characters or the scenerios they're presented with. The whole love story between Donny and Jerboa is a perfect example of that, as they meet one day and they're in bed the next apparently in love with each other. Then Jerboa gives birth like days later to a slimy gerbil or something [I'm not joking], who apparently becomes a 4-year-old boy minutes later in film time. The same goes for the romance between Olga and Beckmeyer, who never really had any interaction with each other until they're at the tribe. They fall in love with each other quickly because Beckmeyer believed in Olga and Olga wanted to return the favor. This leads to a quick rundown of their lives together having children and it's just overdone and rushed to the point where I didn't really give a damn about them. There's just too much going on in 98 minutes to the point where you feel overwhelmed by what's presented. This happens, and then this happens, and oh - here comes this angle! You can never catch a breath and that sacrifices good storytelling.

The characters themselves aren't all that interesting to begin with. Jerboa is hot and sultry, but I don't think she bathes and constantly sweats alot. Plus she falls in love really quickly and has babies in the span of days, which most men would probably be terrified by. Unless your name is Donny, who seems to have no problems loving women who are hygenically challenged and menstrually evolved. Plus, he also falls in love really quickly and will prove it by pounding a woman the day after he meets her. He even noticed Jerboa's hairy pouch before anybody else. And guess what he does?

HE STAYS WITH HER.

And when Jerboa's transforming at the wrap party in front of Donny, what does he do?

HE HAS SEX WITH HER.

And when Jerboa gives birth to her gerbil and shows it to Donny, how does he react?

HE'S PROUD OF HIS LITTLE GERBIL.

All I gotta say is that having sex with Jerboa must be phenomenal if he can overlook everything else.

Beckmeyer is okay as the smart guy of bunch, although he too has a thing for kangawolfen women. Olga, the Russian ballerina, doesn't do much but growl at drawings of other kangawolves [to the point where she's so turned on that she's on the verge of transforming] and transform mid-rehearsal, leading to her eating her co-star. If that happened in real life, I'd see Swan Lake every night! Thylo is your typical bald-headed incestuous asshole who becomes a big wolf and ends up getting killed anyway. Dumbass. And the director, Jack, looks like Alfred Hitchcock but from West Hollywood. Holla! Yeah, interesting characters huh??

Another strike for THE MARSUPIALS - it's rated PG-13. That means no gore, no werewolves gutting stupid people, no nudity, no sex in action, barely any foul language - just a tame werewolf film. The PG-13 remake of PROM NIGHT was more disturbing than anything in this film. Well maybe except for that birth scene with the gerbil. Other than that, extremely tame horror flick. I was teased with that ballerina scene I described earlier with the potential of a really cool and violent death, but it cuts away right before Olga is about to bite into her co-star. It's not shown, only implied to have happened. Again of being given the whole enchalada, I was only allowed to stick the tip in. Fuck you, rating system!

The SFX by Bob McCarron is pretty lame. People in visible werewolf costumes, nuns that look like Snoopy on a bad day, an animated charred skeleton of a werewolf that looks really fake, and a werewolf baby that looks like a newborn puppy aren't exactly Oscar worthy. It's sad how great the effects in the original HOWLING are and that was six years before this film. Even the equally crappy YOUR SISTER IS A WEREWOLF had better effects. I wasn't impressed at all. Cheesy, yes. But they won't leave you coming back for seconds.

The direction by Philippe Mora improved from YOUR SISTER IS A WEREWOLF, but it's still amateurish. I'm sure he attempted to make a parody of werewolf flicks with THE MARSUPIALS, but it's not intentionally funny at all [except for the IT CAME FROM URANUS segment, which was mildly humorous]. The editing is horrible although the cinematography does look impressive. The pacing is all over the place and like I mentioned earlier, things just happen all at once without resonating. Plus Mora takes EVERYTHING away that makes a werewolf film what it is. That means no full moon. No silver bullets. No wolves howling at all. No real transformation scene. Those are musts in any werewolf flick! There's no serious werewolf action in this film at all, even if the poster attempts to make claim to that. I appreciate the fact that Mora tried to do something new, but he fails completely with the execution.

The acting is no better, even though Imogen Annesley as Jerboa was pretty decent. And extremely hot. I mean, smokin' hot. She's a stunner. But everyone else? Horrible. I think they tried but the crappy script didn't help anyone here.

And the worst part of THE HOWLING III: THE MARSUPIALS is the name of the town where the kangawolves live: "Flow". Which is so fuckin' clever because that's "Wolf" backwards! Hardy har fuckin' har, Mr. Mora! Thanks for giving me TROLL 2 flashbacks, jackoff! Nilbog...flow...knird a deen I...

THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE WONDERING IF NICOLE KIDMAN OR NAOMI WATTS ARE PROUD OWNERS OF HAIRY POUCHES

- Some dude claimed that footage of a UFO was really a condom filled with dog shit and a flashlight. No, that really was a UFO. Now this film? Definitely a condom filled with dog shit and a flashlight. Sorry I had to correct ya.

- Don't ever stick your tongue out at a nun. They'll snarl at you and teammate you for life. Don't make it a habit, sinner!

- There's a movie in the film called IT CAME FROM URANUS. I heard it's being remade by Joel Schumacher starring Lance Bass, RuPaul, Clay Aiken, Al Reynolds, and Tom Cruise as the Alien Threat. Can you say fabulicious?

- Jack, the movie director, told Jebola that she's the next Kathleen Turner. You mean a chain-smoking and bloated has-been? Damn, that's pretty harsh!

- Olga, the Russian ballerina, transformed during a ballet rehearsal, eating her unsuspecting co-star in mid-twirl. If random shit like this happened on So You Think You Can Dance, I'd watch that stupid show!

- The stars told Thylo that he was gonna get laid by a foreigner. The stars told me that I was gonna get laid by my tired right hand. So unfair.

- Beckmeyer freed the kangawolves after studying them and understanding that they deserve as much freedom as humans do. The government agents called him a "pain in the ass". Beckmeyer will know all about that when he's arrested and bending over for his big, muscular cellmate in Cell Block KY! Can anyone say IT CAME FROM URANUS: THE SEQUEL?

- A big bad wolf was murdered by a rocket launcher attack to the cranium. Talk about taking a shot in the face!

THE FINAL HOWL
If you're into really terrible B-movies and enjoy torturing unsuspecting viewers with bad cinema, then THE HOWLING III: THE MARSUPIALS is for you. Everyone else should avoid though. And if you don't believe me, can I just say that Dame Edna Everage makes a cameo at the end of the film? Yeah, I knew that would scare you away from this piece of kangashit. I think I'm done with HOWLING movies for a while. My sanity is already fragile as it is. Crickey...

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