Just because you had fun making it, doesn’t mean its any good…
Howling III is basically a knowingly piece of rubbish cinema that tries to be a campy piece of horror but ends up being a little too self aware to be a quality B-Film, especially in the overall canon of the franchise which actually prided itself to have very little to do with the films that came before it.
Long ago, the now extinct marsupial wolf (aka The Tasmanian Tiger) roamed the Australian Outback. Today, a werewolf colony that has descended from these marsupials has taken over the land. This race of human like creatures roams the outback, preying on the unsuspecting to feed their growing numbers. It’s a race for survival as humans struggle to understand and contain these creatures which run the very real risk of going out of control.
In the effort of full disclosure, we have to be honest; we didn’t even know that this movie even existed until the press release for this Blu-Ray release dropped into our inbox and curiosity got the better of us.
Yeah, Howling III is not a good film but you can at least appreciate based on a handful of set pieces and scenes that everyone involved was trying to make something fairly gonzo even though the last act of the film devolved into something that felt almost like a political movement for the lycan (werewolf) community rather than just being a silly low budget horror movie.
Writer/Director Philippe Mora is no stranger to low budget schlock but at least embraces the genre and leans into the material with a fair bit of gusto. It’s dumb but it’s not nearly as fun as it thinks it is as it as the only truly inspired element was having this young female lycan running away in the big city end up on the set of a horror film.
It all riffs on elements of the genre through either campy send ups of the likes of Alfred Hitchcock or through subtle little dialogue moments and while we’re all for satire in our cinema there has to occasionally be some nuance to it. The assembly of the film was a little clunky and everyone plays the material fairly straight which should work, but with no one really opposite it all to roll their eyes at what was happening on the screen it all plays kind of flat. Even in those ridiculous moments where a baby werewolf crawls out of a woman’s vagina and into its mother’s marsupial pouch (yes that actually happened) the only reaction it really generates is the sound of the audience’s eyes rolling. The film is just various set pieces strung together and when it slides into an interspecies romance drama that also tries to stump for the political rites of what is essentially a new species on the planet you can’t help but groan because this dumb werewolf movie was actually taking itself far too seriously.
The ensemble cast was pretty forgettable even though there are some familiar Aussie characters like Barry Otto in key roles along with ingénue Imogen Annesley (who beat out Nicole Kidman for the role!!!) as our heroine lycan. Nobody here is really ‘acting’ per say, they just spend the film making silly faces and having their eyes bug out of their own heads.
In stores now thanks to our friends at Scream Factory, this new 4K scan of the original film elements is mostly pretty clean, although there are a few scenes where the grain from the film was obvious and unavoidable.
The audio is a clean 2.0 DTS track which isn’t necessarily super dynamic but it plays clean and reasonably well enough for the action in the film.
There’s a feature length audio commentary track from writer/director Philippe Mora which is entertaining enough because you can tell he is genuinely enjoying revisiting and discussing the film.
Other special features include a 27 minute new sit down interview with Philippe Mora which is fine if you just want the sentiments from the commentary track in somewhat of a more truncated version.
There’s also an archival interview with Mora provided by director Mark Hartley as he prepped his documentary about the Australian genre film scene in the 1970’s and 80’s.
You can also see the original theatrical trailer which looks like it was pulled from a VHS copy, it’s clean but it hasn’t been touched and it gave me a little laugh when you could see the tracking lines at the bottom of the screen. I don’t doubt it was probably the best that they could get, but it wasn’t very good either.
Ultimately, it really doesn’t matter that Howling III was knowingly trashy, it kind of forgot to have fun with that fact and it all makes for a bit of a slog. This certainly isn’t a film that is even close to being ‘Shelf’ worthy unless you are a hardcore werewolf fan or just dedicated to the franchise as a whole.