Romy Windsor - Marie Adams
Michael T. Weiss - Richard Adams
Suzanne Severeid - Sister Janice
Anthony Hamilton - Tom Billings
Lamya Derval - Eleanor
Dennis Folbigge - Dr. Coombes
Norman Anstey - Sheriff
Genre - Horror/Mystery/Werewolves
Running Time - 88 Minutes
I haven't reviewed a werewolf movie in a while, so I decided that for the last entry for Sequel September II, I would step back into the HOWLING franchise. As some of you know, I'm a fan of the original 1981 THE HOWLING starring Dee Wallace. It's not as good as AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, which came out the same year, but it's a well-told werewolf story with great looking lycans and a memorable atmosphere. But very quickly, the installments released afterwards just went downhill.
THE HOWLING II: YOUR SISTER IS A WEREWOLF is a terrible movie. The acting is bad. The direction isn't all that stimulating. The story is beyond stupid. But at least it has Reb Brown, Christopher Lee, and Sybil Danning [who shows her boobs quite a lot] helping make the film memorable and worth a watch just to laugh. Then HOWLING III: THE MARSUPIALS was released, involving a hybrid of werewolves and kangaroos. It's even worse than YOUR SISTER IS A WEREWOLF, but at least it tries to do something different from the standard werewolf narrative.
And then we have HOWLING IV: THE ORIGINAL NIGHTMARE. Acting like a sequel, it's really a remake [or reboot] in disguise - as it pretty much tells the story from the original film, but in a way that's closer to the novel written by Gary Brandner. Oh man, if I were Mr. Brandner, I would have shot anyone involved with this production with a silver bullet. HOWLING IV: THE ORIGINAL NIGHTMARE is probably the worst sequel I've watched for this month's theme. Just a really pointless exercise of torture if you ask me. How can a more faithful rendition of the original story actually be WORSE than the film loosely based on the same story? Not even the full moon knows.
Marie (Romy Windsor) is an author who seems to be struggling with some nightmares and visions - bad enough to send her to a hospital. She continues to see a frightened nun (Megan Kruskal) and werewolves surrounded by fire, not sure what to make of each. Since her doctor believes that she's just stressed out by her overacting imagination [he sure sounds like a duck...], Marie's husband Richard (Michael T. Weiss) has decided to take her to a small town named Drago [I must break you...] to relax for a few weeks. However due to the strange townspeople in Drago, and Richard's sudden attraction to one of them (Lamya Derval), these visions just get more intense until she slowly realizes she's in werewolf territory.
Hmmm...I think I may have seen this movie before.
I have three words for HOWLING IV: THE ORIGINAL NIGHTMARE:
WHAT THE FUCK!?
I will give the filmmakers this: one of the words in the full title definitely describes this abysmal sequel. It's like a bad dream you can't wake yourself up from for 88 minutes. Who in the hell thought that remaking the original HOWLING would solve the franchise's problems? Especially when this film just makes the first film that much better than I had thought it was prior to watching it! As a sequel, it sucks. As a remake, it's even worse. I've seen a lot of bad sequels before and during my blogging days. HOWLING IV: THE ORIGINAL NIGHTMARE is definitely near the front of the line.
There's really no point in going in depth in terms of the narrative. It's the same fucking movie as the first film. Just with lamer special effects [although they are the film's only highlights], worse acting, a duller script, and inept direction.
- Main character gets a nervous breakdown.
- Her husband decides to help her go to a small, quiet town to relax and live life stress free for a while.
- The townspeople are all weird and creepy, creating a mystery for the town's secret.
- One of the characters is a big ol' whore who seduces the main character's husband and turns him into a werewolf during sex.
- The main character, getting some sort of lead from an outside source, realizes she's surrounded by werewolves, and seems to be the only one who can stop them.
Gee, I wonder how this will all turn out...?
Seriously, if I wanted to watch this story play out on screen, I'd watch Joe Dante's THE HOWLING. At least that film had a genuine mystery, great actors, cool visuals, and a quick pace. This film is the total opposite and a total failure. It's funny how the more faithful adaptation is a total snorefest.
We do get some different takes on certain plot points that weren't in the first HOWLING. There's a character named Ben, who I believe may or may not be Australian [depending on which scene he's in]. He's Marie's co-worker and potential love interest, even though Marie's married to Richard. Ben isn't subtle with his feelings, although Marie is totally clueless. Honestly, Ben doesn't add much to the film but putting a slight wedge between Marie and Richard. And even that doesn't go anywhere. What a waste of a character.
There's also Sister Ruth, who seems to have been a victim of Drago. Even though she's dead, she appears to Marie and warns her like some nut to get out of town. Janice, who used to be a nun with Ruth, acts as the person who figures out the legend before anyone else, although it takes 70 minutes for Marie to actually believe the only smart person in the movie. I will admit that Janice is probably the best character in the film by default, only because I didn't want her dead right away [even though I wanted it to happen eventually just because she's in this God-awful flick!]. Still, at least there was one character who didn't give me the urge to roll my eyes.
My biggest issue with the screenplay is the attempt to create some sort of great mystery that didn't need to even exist. In the original film, the mystery worked because the theme of the "howling" meant more than just standard werewolves. It was a metaphor for the beast within all of us. There was subtext in terms of the wolves, as well as the mystery of what they looked like. By the time you get to PART FOUR, what's the mystery? The werewolves?? THERE'S A FUCKING WEREWOLF ON THE COVER! I KNOW WHAT THE MOVIE IS ABOUT! WHY ARE YOU MAKING THESE CHARACTERS SO FUCKING STUPID JUST TO SELL A NON-MYSTERY?? AND WHY IS THE MYSTERY SO BORING?? AND WHY AREN'T THE CHARACTERS SMARTER OR MORE SUBTLE ABOUT IT?? WHY?????
...Sorry. My brain overloaded on the stupidity and pointlessness of this screenplay. Seriously, you don't see werewolves until the last 10 minutes because the supposed mystery is building to their presence - even though you know you're watching a HOWLING sequel, which is a franchise centered on fucking werewolves.
FUCK THIS SCRIPT. I CAN'T EVEN...
The best moments in the film involve the special effects work. They're not super duper amazing or anything. But compared to everything else, it's pretty memorable for the right reasons. The werewolves look pretty good, that is when you can really see them, and the melting scene with Michael T. Weiss is pretty awesome. Too bad these effects happen way too late. I'm sure most people won't even bother getting to these scenes due to turning the film off out of boredom. Skip to the last 20 minutes if you want to see the good stuff.
The direction by John Hough is terrible. I can't believe this is the same man who directed 1973's THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE. There's nothing interesting about this movie visually. There's a ton of filler. The pacing is molasses. It's pretty much a point-and-shoot affair. There's nothing stylish or slightly inventive about HOWLING IV. No atmosphere. No tension. Hell, even the editing and continuity between shots are terrible. Just because a film is low budget and filmed to go straight to video doesn't mean it has to suck. But this film definitely does.
The acting is no better really. Romy Windsor isn't captivating enough as an actress to really carry a film like this. She doesn't react to things realistically enough and comes across looking like an airhead due to the bad direction and her character portrayal. I'm sure she's a better actress than this, but this was not Windsor's role. Worse is Michael T. Weiss as Richard. Best known for his lead role on TV's The Pretender, Weiss makes a robot look more human than he does. He's just really bland. Suzanne Severeid as Sister Janice was okay, but not given anything interesting to do. Anthony Hamilton as Tom Billings may make the women swoon with his accent and his good looks. But his acting is the equivalent of watching paint dry. Just terrible. Nobody in this movie comes out smelling like a rose. Bad script + Bad acting = God-awful movie.
THE FINAL HOWL
There are a few worse sequels than HOWLING IV: THE ORIGINAL NIGHTMARE. I honestly don't know what anyone was thinking while filming this. The story, which is the same as the original film, is just lifeless, pointless, and terribly written. The direction by John Hough is awful. The acting is miserable. Besides the special effects, there's nothing worth watching about one of the worst horror sequels I have ever had the displeasure to watch. I couldn't recommend a movie less. This is one full moon worth skipping for sure.