Thursday, October 17, 2013

Franchise Review: Howling 4: The Original Nightmare (1988)

Instead of getting better, these Howling films are getting just a little bit worse with each new one. Howling 4: The Original Nightmare is not nearly as terrible or schizophrenic as the previous two installments, so that means that it's also not as entertaining. Howling 4 is more of a retelling of the first film-slash-more faithful adaptation of the original book (or so I've read), and though it's not a bad film, it seriously lacks in the werewolf action and is more of a mystery tale that sorta has werewolves in it.

After having strange hallucinations, Marie Adams and her husband Richard decide to get away from the stresses of her life by renting a cottage for a few weeks in the small town of Drago. Once there, though, Marie's apparent overactive imagination causes her to hear howling in the woods at night and have visions of people who are dead. When a woman, Janice, comes by looking to find out what happened to her friend in Drago, she and Marie start to investigate just what is going on in the mysterious and secretive town.

While Howling 2 and 3 had almost no character development or setup and were mostly just a lot of werewolf nonsense, Howling 4 is pretty much the complete opposite. There is a much more involved storyline here, although some of it is not explained very well. The hallucinations that Marie has at the beginning of the movie - which in fact turn out to be premonitions of a sort - aren't explained at all. She's having some kind of nervous breakdown and seeing these things because of... I don't know. She keeps having these hallucinations after they get to the cabin and it only serves to move the plot along and give Marie and Janice more clues to the mystery of Drago.

The cast of characters is okay, although not really interesting. Marie's husband Richard is all rugged and handsome, but soon goes full douche when he gets sick of hearing Marie's crazy talk about howling in the night. Marie herself is pretty blah, Janice is not at all believable as a former nun, and the only cool people around here are the husband and wife who own the general store. Eleanor, the eccentric local artist with unnaturally pointy boobs, reminded me a bit too much of Gozer. Anybody else see a resemblance? Maybe it's just the 80s.

So there are eventually going to be some werewolves in this werewolf movie, right? Unfortunately you have to be patient here because none of the really good stuff that horror fans are expecting come until literally the last ten minutes. There are some mild werewolf attacks on a pair of hikers, but it it done in POV so you don't really get to see anything. The awesomeness is short-lived and only barely saves the movie from how boring it was in the first hour and twenty minutes. When we first actually see a werewolf it is when Richard goes out to meet Eleanor in the woods to get it on again, and she changes - only for a second, mind you, but it's there.

Even better than any of the werewolf shenanigans is the fact that this movie has one of those scenes that makes me want to vomit. Melting bodies. I have a love/hate relationship with any movie or scene that contains a prolonged shot of an entire human body or just a part of the body that is melting. After Richard has been bitten by Eleanor, on a night of a full moon, we see Richard running in the woods when he suddenly appears to be in pain. You think he is going to transform like any normal werewolf movie would do, but these sick fuckers here decide to show us a very long scene of Richard's body just melting into nasty goop that puddles around his feet. Absolutely vomit-inducing. Thank you for that. The effects are really amazing in this scene

In the end, Janice and Marie get rid of all the werewolves a little bit too easily and then it's all over. Again, Howling 4: The Original Nightmare is not a bad movie, but it's also one that's not very exciting until it's almost too late. The climax is fun, way more gory and disgusting than I expected from the rest of the movie, and since none of these Howling movies are even connected to each other in the first place, there's always room to grow! More werewolf fun to come!


  1. Quite some time back I saw The Howlings 1 & 2 (like when they first came out). Thanks for the great reviews on the series. I was actually considering seeing 3 & 4 but now I will not waste my time (that is, unless I feel like having a good laugh). Love your work. Keep it up. Lloyd

  2. If you're only four films, you have not yet seen the true crap.

    As the proud owner of Part 5/6 (on one Menu), I can say that you're in for a real treat. Part 7 is the best though. If you need help finding it, I can help you out. It tries to hide, but we can always track it down!

    1. I found Part 7 on YouTube but it's one of those that had to be broken down into 10-minute parts. If you know anywhere else where I can watch it more easily, let me know!

  3. What kind of car is the blue convertible the boyf��riend drives?