The Terror Tuesday Report: The Howling III: The Marsupials

Posted by Brian Salisbury - March 31st 2011 @ 9:00 am

The Film

Werewolves exist, and they’re Australian! A pack of half-human-half-Tasmanian-wolves are discovered in the land down under. How are these hybrids connected to a number of savage killings in Russia? Biologist (Sociologist? I can’t remember) Harry Breckmeyer has been called in, by the President of the United States(?) to investigate. What he discovers is fraught with danger, magic, evil, and romance. There aren’t enough question marks in the world to adequately serve this article…and I haven’t even graduated past the plot synopsis yet.

The Howling III is, in every sense of the word, a spoof. But it’s less a spoof of any singular werewolf movie or horror movies in general as it is a spoof of the idea that you have to abide by the constraints of cohesive narratives in order to make a film. Very little of this film makes any damn sense at all. As such, this won’t be an elaborate review. The first five or six scenes are edited with such breakneck attention deficit disorder that the shift from one to the next is accompanied by a sound cue that can only be described as an exaggerated channel change on a remote control. By the time you get to the end, you realize you’ve lost track of how long your mouth has been agape in befuddlement.

What’s most perplexing about the story structure of The Howling III, besides the fact that I am actually using the words story structure, is how long it continues after the plot is finished. It, for all intents and purposes, wraps up all the important details and conflicts of the film and begins the longest denouement in cinema history. We are treated to 3-5 year chunks of the lives of our characters in an elaborate post-script that ends up playing almost as a followup film. It’s as if The Howling III perpetuates its own sequel. It is not only intensely bizarre but also boring as all hell. It is especially unsatisfying when you realize that the whole of this gimmick is but a long-winded setup for one last gag.

Beyond this misstep, I thoroughly enjoyed the strange experiment that is Phillipe Moira’s The Howling III. Philipe Mora is a man who has proven his salt as a director with films like Mad Dog Morgan and The Beast Within; lending credence to the idea that The Howling III‘s faults are all intentional in-jokes. I love the pompous horror director character and the increasingly absurd werewolf gags, but what I love most about this film is its rocking 80s soundtrack. It’s the kind of pitch-perfect syntho rock that encapsulates the decade. Cross another Not Quite Hollywood film off my must-see list!

The Reaction

As seemingly sacrilegious as it is to werewolf cinema, taking several potshots and making a mockery of lycanthropes, it turns out The Howling III is perfect for Terror Tuesday. The audience howled with laughter throughout the entire film and even remained engaged during the lull just before the credits. The room was absolutely electric and that definitely improved the experience of seeing the film; The Howling III certainly necessitates a crowd for proper enjoyment. After the film, when I stepped out into the night, I found quiet satisfaction in the fact that the moon was full.

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