Howling V: The Rebirth (1989)

Neal Sundstrom

Philip Davis - Count Istvan
Victoria Catlin - Dr. Catherine Peake
Elizabeth She - Marylou Summers
Ben Cole - David Gillespie
William Shockley - Richard Hamilton
Mark Sivertsen - Johnathan Lane
Stephanie Faulkner - Gail Cameron

Genre - Horror/Mystery/Slasher/Werewolves

Running Time -
96 Minutes

Back in the 15th century in Hungary, a scared couple murder everyone inside of their castle [including family and servants] as an attempt to murder a disguised werewolf before killing themselves. Unfortunately, a baby is heard crying followed by a howl, proving that their actions were in vain.

500 years pass, and this castle has been reopened. Nine guests have been invited by 'random' by Count Istvan (
Philip Davis), thinking they're getting the VIP treatment. What they don't realize is that they're all descendants of the people who had lived in the castle previously, meaning one of them is a werewolf, with the Count intending to murder them all in order to stop the werewolf curse.


Another year, another review for a HOWLING film. Hell, you may get TWO reviews this month for this franchise!

Was that a threat? Sorry, I shouldn't have scared you like that.

Anyway, we all know that this HOWLING franchise was pretty long in the tooth before it got rebooted in 2011 with THE HOWLING REBORN. The first film is a classic werewolf tale. The second film is a pretty terrible film, but an unintentional fun watch with a lot of boobs and Reb Brown awfulness. The third film is just a weird flick that, at least, does something different with the werewolf story [doesn't mean it fully works though]. And the fourth film, a straight adaptation of the novel this franchise is based on, is super dull and not really worth anyone's time.

HOWLING V: THE REBIRTH is another sequel that doesn't follow the timeline established in the other films, being its own entity and presenting the werewolf tale in a more Gothic/Medieval setting. Being based in Budapest, HOWLING V definitely has a European vibe, using a murder-mystery theme to entice audiences into figuring out which of our characters is a dangerous werewolf. Think "Ten Little Indians", but with a lycan twist. Sounds cool, huh?

If it does sound cool, then watch 1974's THE BEAST MUST DIE. It's a much better movie than this one. You'll thank me later.

That being said, HOWLING V is probably the "best" film in the franchise since the first film, meaning it's not WTF? worthy and not a total waste of time. It has an easy enough narrative to follow. The cinematography is pretty good. The film actually has good atmosphere. Unfortunately it fails in every other aspect, but not enough to turn you away like the third or fourth films.

The screenplay is pretty generic. HOWLING V plays out like an Agatha Christie mystery, but without interesting characters, any sort of tension, or even a real mystery that will interest or shock viewers. Seriously, picking out who the werewolf is won't be a problem, as a certain character disappears for much of the film while the werewolf is running loose. The characters are all archetypes and nothing more than that. Anyone expecting decent character development will be greatly disappointed. I honestly couldn't tell you what their names were and what they did for a living. At least they have some quirks that elevate them from being dull, but not enough to eliminate boredom at times.

Characters also did things that just made me scratch my head. One character is pretty much a bitch for much of the film until the final act, where she's suddenly friendly and willing to help the others figure out what's going on. Nothing in the story justifies this change, not making you buy her sudden heroism. As for the Count, why didn't he just kill the werewolf himself if he knew how to? Why have other people in the castle do the work for him? He could have killed everyone one-by-one and gotten his wish. Having to go through such lengths to accomplish a simple goal seemed a bit far-fetched. But I guess we wouldn't have a film, now would we?

I will say that at least the narrative is easy to follow and understand. While the film is a bit dialogue heavy and the characters do a lot of castle exploring, at least I understood who each character was and the reason why each of them was there. The mystery is a bit of a fail, but at least the film tries to make it interesting enough to engage the audience. Plus the story has a decent set up and it builds to a predictable conclusion with a twist. It's not a great screenplay, but I found it more engaging than HOWLING III and HOWLING IV.

The special effects are barely existent here. HOWLING V doesn't have much of a budget, so don't expect any werewolf transformations or a lot of gore. Hell, we barely see any sign of a werewolf. We see peeks of it here and there, looking like someone in a werewolf suit, but the lack of any lycan is very disappointing. I guess some female nudity at times can make up for the lack of wolf action for some, but I wish the beast had more of a presence on screen rather than through exposition.

The direction by Neal Sundstrom is okay. There's nothing really stylish about the film, as HOWLING V is pretty much a point-and-shoot affair. The castle setting does add a Gothic atmosphere at times, especially when characters are traveling underground. There is also some tension during some chase sequences. The real problem is that the visual presentation isn't all that memorable. But at least the editing and atmosphere make HOWLING V somewhat more watchable than a couple of the films before it.

The acting isn't anything to write home about. Nobody wasn't particularly good, but no one was downright terrible. The closest to being the worst was Elisabeth She, but I'm not sure if it was her acting that was bad, or that I found her ditsy portrayal annoying. Still, she's not in it enough to completely derail the film. If you've seen a HOWLING sequel, you know what to expect from the acting.


- The opening credits featured a cradle rocking. And to think I thought the worst thing to happen to a Van Halen song was when Gary Cherone was the lead singer.

- Marylou, being ignorant, considered playing tennis a hobby and not a profession. Not sure how she came to that conclusion, since I'm sure she also got paid for the amount of balls that targeted her face during those casting couch sessions.

- Since the servants of the castle couldn't speak or understand English, Marylou spoke slower and louder in English so they would "understand". It's nice to know she doesn't have to study to play stupid.

- A professor, who was trapped in a tunnel, was frightened by a werewolf. Who knew being stranded with Gilligan was the safer choice?

- The token black girl was murdered by a werewolf. That might explain why I've never seen Hulk Hogan during a full moon...

- One dude was stuck outside in a maze during a snowstorm before being attacked by a werewolf. I had no idea the Overlook Hotel was in Budapest.

- Jonathan tried to score with Marylou, but failed each time. I think she's still ruining prom nights during this period. Give it time, Jon.

Even though it really isn't saying much, HOWLING V: THE REBIRTH is one of the better sequels in this terrible franchise. While the film is nothing to write home about, at least it has some things going for it - like some atmosphere, a decent premise, and a serious attempt at a good mystery. Too bad we barely see a werewolf due to the really low budget of this flick. At least this sequel was more watchable than the last two installments before it, so it's got that going for it. If you can't get your hands on the better THE BEAST MUST DIE, then HOWLING V is the Rice-A-Roni of consolation prizes.

2 Howls Outta 4


Midnight Confessions Ep. 72: "The 2nd Annual Summer Extravaganza begins"

Summer isn't over yet. Our 2nd Annual Summer Sextravaganza is just warming up and the burgers and dogs are on for first half of our Sex BBQ. This week we're taking a look at two 80's sex comedies; HOT DOG...THE MOVIE (1984) and HAMBURGER: THE MOTION PICTURE (1986).


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The Midnight Confessions Movie Show #8: The Psychotronic Man (1979)

Join Rev. Phantom, Moronic Mark and myself as we talk over THE PSYCHO-TRONIC MAN. This movie has it all: A sleepy barber, aliens....maybe(?), loud music, loud sideburns, driving, 35 MPH chase scenes, all the parts of Chicago that no one has any interest in, a vomit inducing sex scene--did we mention it has driving? Well it's got dancing too. It also has a fat cop that won't stop eating because that funny...right? RIGHT?!

What IMDb says it's about: A man discovers that he has psycho-tronic powers--the ability to will people to die. He begins exercising that power....and he drives a lot.

Hey, did you know we have a podcast? Because of course we do. Be sure to check out the Midnight Confessions Podcast...

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Midnight Confessions Ep. 71: "The F13 franchise comes to an end"

This is the "final chapter" of our 4 episode look at the FRIDAY THE 13TH franchise as well as the end of our Summer Slashfest. We close it out with a look at JASON X (2001), FREDDY VS. JASON (2003) and FRIDAY THE 13TH (2009).


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Midnight Confessions Ep. 70: "What's that smell?"

...that shitty smell? Oh That's the smell of these three pungent entrees into the FRIDAY THE 13TH franchise: FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD (1988) [ok sequel], FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VIII: JASON TAKES MANHATTAN (1989) [so bad it's good] and JASON GOES TO HELL: THE FINAL FRIDAY (1993) [so bad it's bad].


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Ant-Man (2015)

Peyton Reed

Paul Rudd - Scott Lang/ Ant-Man
Evangeline Lilly - Hope Van Dyne
Corey Stoll - Darren Cross
Bobby Cannavale - Paxton
Michael Pena - Luis
Tip "T.I." Harris - Dave
Anthony Mackie - Sam Wilson/ Falcon
Judy Greer - Maggie
Michael Douglas - Hank Pym
Abby Ryder Fortson - Cassie Lang

Genre - Action/Adventure/Science Fiction/Fantasy/Comic Books

Running Time - 117 Minutes

White collar burglar Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has been released from prison, finding it difficult to settle back into a normal life. He gets fired from his Baskin-Robbins job. His ex-wife (Judy Greer) and her cop fiancee (Bobby Cannavale) criticize his choices, wanting Scott not to be a bad influence to their daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). When he realizes the only way he can be with his daughter is by finding a job and having enough money to pay child support, Scott falls back into a life of crime.

With a tip from his former cellmate Luis (
Michael Pena), Scott steals a weird suit from Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), a scientist who once worked for Howard Stark and Peggy Carter. When Scott puts on the suit, he shrinks to the size of an ant, soon realizing that Pym wanted Scott to steal the suit so he can become the new Ant-Man. Pym and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) begin training Scott, teaming him how to control the ant population and the ways of the suit in order for him to steal a suit from Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) - Pym's former protege and current boss of Pym Industries. Cross has created his own shrinking suit, deemed the Yellowjacket, which he plans on selling to HYDRA. Scott must stop Cross from making this deal to save the world and be a hero to his daughter.



- The acting. Hands down, the best part of ANT-MAN was the film's cast. I've always been a fan of Paul Rudd, so it's great to see him in a Marvel Comics movie. And I think he was the perfect choice for Scott Lang, a burglar with a heart of gold. Rudd has an immense amount of charisma and humor that makes his character shine, making him an easy person to root for. I thought he had great chemistry with anyone he was on screen with, and I'm looking forward to where he takes the characters within the MCU. Michael Douglas was also great as an older Hank Pym, making a great mentor to Rudd and giving his character some gravitas where it concerned the tragic situation with his family. Evangeline Lilly, despite the bad haircut, is pretty great as Hope Van Dyne. She could have been a damsel-in-distress and her role does put her in the background a bit at times, but Lilly brings a toughness and intelligence to the role that I really liked. In some ways, she reminded me of Pepper Potts, but with more kick-ass ability to handle situations on her own without a man's help. Her transformation to the Wasp should be interesting. Corey Stoll could have played Darren Cross as a typical villain, as his character seems to be a carbon copy of IRON MAN's Obadiah Stane/Iron Monger. But Stoll gives the character some humanity, wanting to impress Pym but realizing the only way he can do that is by doing bad things to get his attention. Stoll plays the character as a neglected son who wants to unseat his father. And I liked that a lot. I wish there was more Yellowjacket in the film, but Stoll is pretty great here regardless. Bobby Cannavale grounds the film a bit as Paxton, doing a good job. Michael Pena is a comic highlight as Luis, making me wish there were more of him in the film. He's awesome. And Anthony Mackie's appearance as Falcon was very cool. Not a bad apple in this bunch.

- The direction. While I do wish Edgar Wright had remained on board to direct ANT-MAN [even his script got changed, which makes me wonder what his original vision was like], Peyton Reed still does a pretty nice job visualizing this origin story. All the comic book beats are there, with great framing, pacing, and editing. The film is very colorful, which I enjoyed. And the use of CGI is done extremely well, as one would expect from these Marvel movies. The use of Ant-Man's shrinking powers is pretty awesome, with moments that seem to be influenced by HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS. And Yellowjacket looks pretty awesome, although I wish there was more of him.

The action sequences are great. Ant-Man's fight with Falcon is done really well, with Reed showcasing Ant-Man's powers to counterattack Falcon's. And the last sequence with Ant-Man and Yellowjacket is clever and wonderful to watch. The toy train scene is pretty hilarious and inventive all at once. I thought ANT-MAN was more than a visually pleasing film.

- The film's tone. ANT-MAN is a more comedic slant on the MCU. It's a lighthearted film that's more focused towards family entertainment than previous films in this universe. Lang and his daughter, Cassie, have some cute moments together. Lang's struggle with his new powers brings some funny moments that seem to make fun of the film's premise and the other films in the universe. ANT-MAN is a pretty silly film on the surface, even when serious things are happening. And I didn't mind that. As a matter of fact, I appreciated it. So many comic book movies tend to take themselves too seriously at times. ANT-MAN is having fun with itself, and you tend to have fun with it. It's not surprising since Edgar Wright brings humor to his scripts, but Paul Rudd also had input, which makes you know what type of tone this film will have. It's pretty consistent throughout and I thought it helped make ANT-MAN stand out from the rest of the pack at times.


- The cliche "origin" screenplay. I shouldn't take points off for this, since this is the introduction of the character. But I'm getting pretty tired of these origin films, especially when it feels like I already seen this film before more than once. ANT-MAN felt like IRON MAN at times, mixed with the humor of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. The unfortunate thing is that those two films are superior in terms of storytelling and comedy. ANT-MAN feels cookie cutter in its storytelling, featuring a main character whose struggles - while realistic as they are [wanting to be a real father to his daughter by becoming a responsible heroic adult] - tend to feel lackluster and bland compared to the other heroes within the universe. It's a story that's meant to entertain while you watch it, but it won't make you think about things afterwards. There's also nothing really memorable about it either, as with the other films. The origin storytelling still works, but ANT-MAN doesn't really offer anything new that would truly make it standout.

- Another wasted villain. Oh Yellowjacket - what a true waste you are in this movie. Stoll is great as Darren Cross, but he feels like Obadiah Stane from IRON MAN. It was almost as if the screenwriters copied and pasted some aspects of that film to create this film's villain. Cross brings nothing new to the villain table, simply being there because the film needs an antagonist for our hero. Yellowjacket looks awesome, but I wish he did more in the film. I was pretty disappointed here, as I wanted more from this character. But he's just generic, plain and simple. I wonder if Edgar Wright had more things for him to do. Oh well.


ANT-MAN is a good, but not great, comic book film. Even though it's haunted by the ghost of former creative director Edgar Wright, the film ends up being better than it probably has any right to. The cast, in particular Paul Rudd and Michael Pena, is great. Peyton Reed's direction steers the film along quite well. I thought the action sequences and CGI were great. But ANT-MAN feels cookie cutter, as if we've seen this all before but done better in other films. And Yellowjacket was totally wasted in this, much to my disappointment. It's a decent set-up for a character not many people outside of comic books may know, but it could have been better. But at least it's a fun watch and succeeds on what it mostly needs to do, making it a recommendation for anyone who enjoys these type of films.

3 Howls Outta 4

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