Anyone hoping that the stunning quality drop of Philippe Mora’s Howling II from Joe Dante’s kickass original was only a minor blip in the wildly erratic werewolf saga must have been dismayed to spot the director’s name also slapped across this third entry that takes the series and dunks it bluntly in the deranged sheep-dip known as Oz-ploitation.
For those of you unfamiliar with the term, Oz-ploitation is the range of Australian independent movies that were just as insane as their American drive-in counterparts that at it best gifted us George Miller’s Mad Max and at worse it have us… well, this.
With that being said, for better or worse (mostly worse) Howling III: The Marsupials is quite unlike any other lycanthope film ever made and is a rich source of a diet of unintentional hilarity that is nothing else should have you howling with laughter.
Aussie anthropologist Harry Beckmeyer is convinced that werewolves are real and present a very real threat to mankind due to footage he has that was shot in 1905 that seems to contain a human/wolf hybrid being sacrificed by aboriginal tribesmen – but finds his pleas dismissed by the U.S. President.
Of course, we know the furry bastards are real because we’re taken to the Australian commune of Flow (spell it backwards) where nubile, young werewolf Jerboa flees the hidden town and heads to Sydney where she’s instantly spotted by randy young assistant director Donny Martin who hires her on the spot for a role in Shape Shifters Part 8, thereby proving this movie had to have been scripted by an actual seven year old. Filling Donny in on her traumatic life in a single sentence – “My stepfather tried to rape me and he’s a werewolf” is fairly comprehensive – the two eventually fall in love in a classic tale of boy meets werewolf that thankfully doesn’t resort to them doing it doggie style.
However, forces are moving against them as Flow has sent three werewolf nuns are Jerboa to bring her back (I swear I’m not making this up) and Beckmeyer and the government get the wolf-proof they need when Russian ballerina Olga Gorki transforms mid-perfomance and attacks one of her troupe but she escapes her captors and flees to Flow where she is destined to be the chief’s mate.
Meanwhile, Jerboa and Donny have found that thanks to her inhuman physiology, the young werewolf is pregnant and gives birth to a little wolf baby that nestles in the marsupial pouch she has because if you have werewolf ballerinas and werewolf nuns, then why can’t you have were-women with a pouch like Kanga from Winne The Pooh?
Soon enough the government moves in to wipe them out but are aided by Beckmeyer who has seen the error of his ways, but after heading off into the Outback to escape their pursuers, can any of these people even hope to have a normal life?
Playing less like a cohesive story and more like the incoherent ramblings of a paranoid glue sniffer experiencing mind shredding night terrors, Howling III probably ranks as one of the most wilfully bizarre movies ever made and you have to wonder if the entire script was hashed out by a room full of people sucking on exhaust fumes purely on a dare. Expanding on the original movie’s premise by focusing on tribes of werewolves that exist in places other than the USA, the movie immediately flies off the rails from the word go and contains so many half-thought out concepts and scenes that you wonder if maybe the whole film is maybe one big joke at our expense.
Virtually nothing in the movie makes any logical sense; why would a woman who had just left the sexual abuse she was experiencing at her commune agree to start in a film where the first scene apparently has her being gang raped by a bunch of monsters? However, judging by the scene we do see filmed (a werewolf strangles a screaming woman in an evening dress in broad daylight while in front of an outdoor fountain) I have no idea what kind of movie they’re trying to fucking make in the first place. Also, why is the jokey horror movie Donny takes Jerboa to called It Came From Uranus when it also features a werewolf, even one that features one with a snout as long as a damn crocodile? Also, if flashing lights can violently force a werewolf transformation why do so many lycanthopes seem to be in jobs that involve flash photography – is another side effect of being a wolf person mean having awful decision making skills?
Despite the movie featuring a bunch of filmmakers who have no interest at accurately portraying the act of filmmaking, the movie launches a never ending fusillade of random shit and awful transformation makeups at the screen that give you a strong “did I really see that” sort of vibe.
For example, take the night Donny and Jerboa first get together and specifically the moment that dopey Donny notices that his feral lover has a patch of fur and a horizontal scar over her belly (actually her pounch) which gives her the look of someone who’s decided framed a cesarean scar with a gargantuan bush of pubic hair. Firstly we’re supposed to believe that he never spotted it during their lovemaking (not exactly the most attentive lover is our Donny) and secondly he never thinks to bring it up in a conversation at all. Then there’s the weird spiritual vibe the film suddenly thinks to throw in when the characters reach the Outback with several characters calling on a mystical werewolf god known as The Phantom in order to transform themselves into a massive super-werewolf to massacre the government troops chasing them in the movie’s last third which would have been a great plan if it didn’t get shot in the face with a bazooka at point blank range… oh well.
A massive, coiled werewolf turd of a movie that is cheap and stupid in almost every way, unbelievably Howling III still manages to be a step up from it’s legendarily sleazy predecessor if only because it contains a plot so incredibly daft you’ll still be in denial it ever got made even hours after you’ve seen it. I mean, come on; weird political intrigue, global conspiracies, werewolf gods and lycanthope ballet aside, how many other films have you seen that ends with Barry Humphries in full Dame Edna Everage get savaged by a transformed actress during an awards ceremony while other werewolves cheer on at home?
Not so much werewolves, as why wolves, why?