DECEMBER 30, 2009
Without even realizing that it had been exactly two years since I watched the 1st Howling, I queued up Howling III: The Marsupials (actually The Marsupials/The Howling III on the film itself. How does one divide a Marsupial by a Howling?) on Netflix, intrigued by... well, pretty much nothing beyond my appreciation of actor Barry Otto. I wasn’t a big fan of the first two films, and the PG-13 rating meant that it would lack sufficient gore or nudity to boot.
Well for a while I thought I was wrong, as the first 40 minutes or so are pretty awesome. You get a feral girl running away from the Outback and ending up starring in a shitty low budget horror movie directed by a guy who is made to look like Alfred Hitchcock, a record TWO rape jokes in the first ten minutes (“My stepfather tried to rape me, and he’s a werewolf” is the first, and “This is high art. For example, in this scene you will be gang-raped by four monsters” is the 2nd), and a pack of werewolf women dressed as nuns. Plus a guy is thrown out of a window in a hospital room, but when they cut to an exterior, he is seen flying off the roof (and it’s like a 50 story building - big hospital!) while a song called “All Fall Down” fades into the soundtrack. So far, so good.
But then the movie detours and never recovers. The horror movie subplot is gone for good, and instead we get a borderline family drama about Otto falling in love with a werewolf woman and helping raise her child in the Outback. Meanwhile, feral girl has her own child (we see it birthed - apparently you can show a vagina in a PG-13 movie as long as its part werewolf) and learns how to be a mother. There’s some occasional action with a group of army guys and a few male werewolves, but it’s largely inconsequential, and I suspect it was just tossed in to keep people like me from giving up on the movie entirely.
It’s also way too complicated and revisionist. You don’t need silver bullets to kill werewolves here, but apparently strobe lights are a good weapon, as they all suffer from epilepsy. We’re also given the kangaroo/Tasmanian devil stuff, and then a whole bunch of hooey involving one of those painted guys you always see in Outback movies, who dance in circles and have impressive beards. Yet I don’t think the moon is ever even mentioned, but even if so, most of the movie takes place in broad daylight anyway, with people just dicking around the Outback. For a while I thought I was watching the first hour of Australia again (incidentally, Nicole Kidman was apparently up for a role in the film).
Seriously, the final 20 minutes of this movie have no werewolves or action whatsoever. Otto teaches the little were-girl how to read, and then we cut to like 15 years later where he’s teaching again, and the feral girl’s kid, now all grown up, comes to his school and they catch up on each other’s lives... and then Dame fuckin’ Edna shows up! What the fuck? Actually this leads to a finale that almost makes up for the last 40 minutes, as now big time actress feral girl turns werewolf on live TV after she wins an Oscar. Sort of like the end of the first Howling, except no one thinks its fake this time. Ha, ha.
Also, what is that buzzing, droning sound that always seems to accompany any Australian set movie? Before a single frame of film appeared on screen (credits were over black) I knew we were in Australia just from that damn sound.
I dunno, like I’ve said a million times, I’m not the biggest werewolf fan anyway, but I know a good one when I see it (American Werewolf, Wolf Man, Ginger Snaps 2), and these movies aren’t among them. I’m sure I’ll see the rest of them eventually (there are seven total, including one that is a takeoff on the "Ten Little Indians" story!), but I won’t be rushing out to find them. Christ, are they even on DVD?
What say you?