Thursday, 22 October 2009

The "Howling" Series


There are seven "Howling" films and three novels. Not all of them are connected. Some of them are pretty good, some of them are just awful. In the film series, the first is one of the best werewolf films ever made and parts V and VI would both have benefited from severing ties with the series and standing apart as well done low-budget horror films. In contrast, "Howling II" is a wildly-entertaining so bad it's good "new-wave" horror comedy, with a plot that makes no sense and occurs both in America and Transylvania, "Howling III" (by the same director) was really boring but probably better made, "Howling IV" is one of the worst films I've ever seen and part VII "New Moon Rising" is quite possibly the worst film I've ever seen, ever. And I sat through "Actium Maximus", "The Dark Side of Midnight" and the likes.

So, if you like werewolf movies, the first film is a must and parts V and VI are definetely worth a look - they're available on DVD together at a good price. Both are "direct to video" features, but they're also from the late eighties/early nineties when that meant direct to video films were still made on location, on film and professionally. If you enjoy "The Howling" and found much to laugh at in "Troll 2", then you'll love "Howling II", a sequel so ridiculous and incongruous with the first outing, it becomes automatically classic batshit movie-making. It's more fun, actually, than "Troll 2" because, unlike that film, it's competantly made and acted, with some great set design - it's just the script is so fucking awful. The others are not worth your time.

  • "The Howling"
  • "Howling II: Your Sister Is A Werewolf" (aka. Howling II: Stirba - Werewolf Bitch)
  • "Howling III"
  • "Howling IV: The 'Original' Nightmare"
  • "Howling V: The Rebirth"
  • "Howling VI: The Freaks"
  • "Howling VII: New Moon Rising" (aka. Howling - New Moon Rising)


Gary Brandner's novels are my first exposure to "so-bad-it's-good" novels. The first two, written in quick succession, are straight-forward and nasty horror novels, with sexism, a rape and lots of bad descriptions and prose altogether. They're actually funny how outdated some of this is. The werewolves in the first two books are quadropeds who are very wolflike. In the movies, the werewolves are always a hybrid of human and wolf (with parts 1 and V having the most wolf-like characteristics) and bipedal.
The third book retconned much of the first two books and seemingly took after the films more (Michael Crichton style). The werewolves now walked etc. Brandner also wrote the baffling screenplay for "Howling II" after he took disdain to the first film's treatment of his book (all he seemingly brought was werewolf sex, the gypsie stuff from the book and a complete rewrite of the first film's ending). "Howling III" and, to an extent, "Howling VI: The Freaks" took after "Howling III: Echoes" sympathetic view of the werewolf.

  • "The Howling"
  • "The Howling II" aka "Return of the Howling"
  • "Howling III: Echoes"

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