Just when you thought it was safe to go down under…
I know the bare minimum about the Howling movies. What I do know is that the first film was a cult hit by director Joe Dante, who also helmed such classics as Gremlins and Piranha. There was a sequel, the humorously titled Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf, which starred Sybil Danning. If that's not entertainment, I don't know what is. In 1987, a second sequel was produced, Howling III: The Marsupials. I can't think of a less frightening subtitle to call a film than "The Marsupials." Yes, nothing says terrifying to me like the image of Australian mammals. Anyhow, the general lot of the Howling sequels have been straight-to-video fare, and with good reason (do YOU remember seeing Howling VII: New Moon Rising playing at your local multiplex?). Elite Entertainment goes wild with their release of Howling III: The Marsupials.
Facts of the Case
Here are the basic facts of Howling III: The Marsupials: Apparently, there is a group of werewolves living in Russia and Australia. Professor Harry Beckmeyer (Barry Otoo) has spent his life in search of these creatures, fueled by some archival footage that his grandfather shot back in 1905. Apparently, the footage contains actual evidence that werewolves exist. Or something like that.
In a small tribe in Australia, a woman named Jerboa (Imogen Annesley) escapes before her father is able to rape her. She travels by bus to the big city where she meets the handsome Donny (Leigh Biolos), an assistant director on the new film "Shape Shifters Part 8." He spots Jerboa and immediately thinks she'd be perfect for the movie. Jerboa accepts his offer and the two are off to make the schlock B-movie (art imitating life or vice versa? You decide). The two lovebirds eventually fall in deep, passionate love, which in movie terms means having hot unbridled monkey sex. Their relationship becomes even more complicated when Jerboa becomes pregnant with Donny's baby.
Through a series of long, boring missteps, Jerboa is soon discovered to be a werewolf, or Tasmanian devil, or some kind of hairy wildebeest. She's tied up and interrogated in a hospital until three women woman from her village disguised as nuns pop in and rescue her. And so on, and so on. By the time we're to the very anticlimactic final act, Jerboa, Donny and Professor Beckmeyer are on the run from army hunters who want to wipe out the race of rabid Marsupials.
What's a werewolf to do?
Was my summation of Howling III: The Marsupials disjointed and confusing?
Good, for now you have an idea what it was like to watch this stinker. You're going to have to check in with the rebuttal witness for more critical comments on Howling III: The Marsupials.
As for the audio and video portions, Howling III: The Marsupials is given much better treatment than a film like this deserves. Elite Entertainment has done a very fine job of making Howling III: The Marsupials look like it is brand spankin' new. The 1.85:1 anamorphic presentation is clear and precise with hardly any defects spotted. A small amount of grain was seen, but for a film of this budget and age that's not much of a complaint. Flesh tones were natural and bright, blacks dark and solid. Bravo to Elite for doing such great work on such a not-so-great title.
Audio includes, if you can believe it, a remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 track. So I see how it is…we can get a remixed 5.1 track for a cruddy B-grade horror flick like Howling III: The Marsupials, but God forbid we'd get one for a big bang action flick like The Poseidon Adventure. The mix for Howling III: The Marsupials is actually very well done. Though not really needed, it's still nice to see a studio take the time to do some work on such small titles. It gives me hope for other future cheesecake titles. The 5.1 track is clear of any hiss or distortion. Dialogue was clean, music and effects mixed well. Rear speakers were even utilized for such effects as choppers flying overhead and the creepy music score. Elite steps up to the plate and hits a homer with this title's technical specifications.
Included are some decent special features that will make Howling III: The Marsupials fans very happy. First up is a commentary track by director Philippe Mora (who also directed Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf). This track lost me at the very beginning, when the director stated, "Howling III: The Marsupials, one of the greatest films made in 1986." Even though I'm pretty sure he was joking, Mora should realize that a statement like that could get him killed in over 32 different countries. Otherwise, Mora has a dry sense of humor and lots of technical information to share. The track is actually decent, and much more enjoyable then the film itself.
A full frame promotional trailer also included, as well as a TV spot. Both of these are of poor quality and not very exciting. Finally, there is a still gallery of behind-the-scenes photos and pictures from the movie.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
I'd have more luck getting a live interview with Abraham Lincoln than I would understanding Howling III: The Marsupials. Talk about a film that feels so haphazardly thrown together that it's like sitting through three or four separate movies in an hour and a half.
Let's do a quick count off of what Howling III: The Marsupials includes:
• A faux film director that looks like Alfred Hitchcock and Rod
Steiger's love child
Mind you, this is just a partial list of what's included in this dud. I failed to include the birth of a small, bald looking hamster out of the hairiest, grossest vagina I've ever seen. If that sounds weird, just wait till you get a load of Howling III: The Marsupials.
Writer/director Philppe Mora (who also made the alien flick Communion) seems like he has all the experience of a first year film student. The plot is so out there that you have to wonder if this movie is the missing cinematic link between apes and humans. Howling III: The Marsupials is supposed to be a sequel to a cult classic horror flick, but instead comes off as a cross between Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes and the TV show "When Animals Attack!" I think the producers were aiming for both comedy and horror combined, but hit neither. The funny stuff isn't humorous, and since Howling III: The Marsupials has a PG-13 rating, we're in for about as much gore a Julia Childs cooking special. All the actors look like they're trying to do something with the material, but are at a loss because the script is so poorly formulated. The only stand out is Imogen Annesley as Jerboa, and that's only because she's hotter than a '57 Chevy.
Like every other werewolf movie known to man, Howling III: The Marsupials had to include a cheesy cover of Creedance Clearwater Revival's "Bad Moon Rising." I cried when I heard it, though not out of happiness. Then there's the special effects. My father always said that you learn something new everyday. Watching Howling III: The Marsupials, I learned that all werewolves living in Australia are made of rubber, latex and cheap grease paint. If nothing else, I thank Howling III: The Marsupials for providing me with this valuable information.
I have a small yet insightful tip for future horror filmmakers: if you have any, and I mean ANY inclination to direct a sequel to even a semi-successful horror movie, make sure that it actually has something to do with the original. I wish someone would have imparted this dire information to the makers of Howling III: The Marsupials. Elite Entertainment in commended for putting together a pretty good package for Howling III: The Marsupials. At around thirty dollars I find it really hard to recommend this as a purchase, but if you're a werewolf fan and feel like you need to see this movie, rent it.
Guilty…but I'm too confused by the story to say why. Elite Entertainment is set free for doing a fine job on a trashy movie.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Elite Entertainment
• TV Spot and Promotional Trailer
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