Howling IV: The Original Nightmare (1988)

Howling040220 Movies for $5; What could possibly go wrong?  Part XIV.

The opening credits say this is based on The Howling I, II, & III by Gary Brandner.  So, it took three books to create this masterpiece; as opposed to The Hobbit which is one book being made into three films.  So this film must be stuffed with great ideas, metaphor, action, rich characters — it must be nine times as good as The Hobbit!  Great, can’t wait!

Author and walking 80’s billboard Marie Adams (Romy Windsor) is riding up in an elevator to meet her agent.  A nun boards the elevator with her, but when she turns to speak to her, she has vanished.  She spots the nun again at lunch, but again she vanishes.  She has yet another vision — this one of a wolf — and this is the one that finally gets her hauled away.Howling0403

She is taken to a hospital, where she opens up a compact mirror and sees a vision of her face all bloody.  But in the director’s signature move, the shot is so quick — just a few frames — that it is barely perceptible on the first viewing (and WTH would anyone watch it a second time?).

The doctor and her husband Richard decide she needs a few weeks in the country to relax. Marie, her husband and their their preciously-named dog Pierre go to a rustic cottage in the country.  Rustic meaning there are wolf claw marks on the door.

During a walk in the woods, Pierre disappears.  Marie seems to think this is worthy of reporting to the sheriff.   The next day she thinks she sees the nun from the first scene, but it turns out to be a local in a black cape who will soon be banging her husband.  She points out a short-cut home to Marie which takes her past a cave.  Peeking inside, she sees Pierre’s severed head — identifiable only after replaying the scene three times, thanks to the director’s signature .5 second shot.

The next day, Richard goes to the cave to check out Marie’s story about Pierre.  Despite Marie specifically telling him Pierre was “in the cave,” he does not even peek in.  He finds an old doll several yards from the cave and tells her that’s what she must have seen, silly woman.

The story picks up slightly as a couple of New Yorkers are killed.  Sadly, it is all wolf-cam, so we see nothing.

yada yada.

Howling0405Finally about 80 minutes in, we get what we came for.  Richard, who was bitten in the 2nd yada, begins melting into a pile of viscous goo.  I still don’t understand how that is a step to becoming a wolf, but I was just happy to see anything finally happen in this film.

This attracts many other man-wolves most of whom look more like Nosferatu than wolves.  However, to average it out, they also present shots of red-eyed dogs running around that are supposed to be wolves.

Eventually, Marie is able to kill the wolves in much the same way we saw in Night Shadow.  A car is launched toward a bell tower where they have been lured.  Then the car is blown up, consuming them all in the fire.  When the denouement of your film draws from the same concepts as a Kato Kaelin joint, you’re on thin cinematic ice.

Romy Windsor is very watchable with a very distinct look about her.  Sadly, she is not reason enough to endure this movie.  Some of the effects are fun and appear to be practical, but they are too few and far too late coming to be much help.

I rate this a I out of IV. Stoopid no-fraction-having Romans — it only deserves a .V out of IV.


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