Thursday, October 24, 2013

Franchise Review: Howling 5: The Rebirth (1989)

Aye-yi-yi. I keep torturing myself over and over again with these wacky Howling movies. So most of these are (loosely) based on The Howling series of books, right? My question is: Where is the connection? Are the books all this disjointed from each other, too, because it's really starting to annoy me a little bit. Aside from the first two movies, all of these Howling movies are just shitty 80s things that have werewolves in them sometimes. Howling 5: The Rebirth is no exception.

In Budapest, a group of people visit an old castle that no one has set foot in for the last 500 years. The castle has a bloody history, as the last people who lived there were massacred, and once members of the new group start disappearing - found later with their throats ripped out - some begin to wonder if they were brought there for a reason.

So I don't get to say this too often, but I love castles. Whenever I see an honest-to-goodness castle in a movie, I can't help but wonder how awesome it would be to live in one. Candlelight and torches, big doors, and maybe a secret passage or two. Love that shit. It was good for the Howling movies to make a leap like this and do things a little different, maybe attempting to go back to the werewolf origins or something. The castle set here is used fairly well, and the overall production value of the movie actually looks good and maybe a bit more professional than some of the other Howling films. The direction is merely average, with nothing all that inventive with camerawork or lighting.

A few nitpicks about the castle, though: Any outside shots of the castle in the blizzard just looks like very thick television snow (how appropriate) playing over a still shot of the building so we never really get that great a view of what this one looks like. On the inside, it seems to have aged well in 500 years, with hardly a cobweb to be seen, especially in the main areas - considering what we are told before that this is the first time the castle has ever been opened since the massacre in the 1400s.

One thing that becomes very fun to look forward to in Howling 5 is the song of death, as I came to call it. Whenever a character finds him or herself all alone in the castle, you know that a werewolf is going to come along soon to gobble them up or whatever. Once that happens, the scene cuts with the same repeated Omen-type scary religious music. The creepy chorus is shouting something like "SANCTUS!" and it made me laugh and sing along every single time it happened.

The characters are quite stupid. I mean, the whole setup for the movie is a little hard to swallow to begin with. All of these random people - a ditzy girl, a Scandinavian actress, a photographer, a tennis player, etc. - have all been invited to the same castle opening with no real reason as to why they were even picked in the first place, as far as I could tell. And they never question that until things start going bad. Then once they get there, the "opening" consists of all of them just sitting around drinking and eating.

The actors are not completely terrible, but they definitely could have done a better job. A lot of the dialogue is stilted and doesn't sound natural at all. Elizabeth She is of course the highlight of the piece, playing stupid and naive Marylou probably a little bit too well. Every word out of her mouth screams "Valley Girl." Such a hoot. She really should have just been running every scene to make it that much easier for the audience to watch this thing. The blonde actress says it best when she tells Marylou that she has a, uh, "way with words."

I'm actually not really saying that Howling 5: The Rebirth is a bad movie - it's not good, but it's not complete dreck, either - I think I'm just frustrated that they still hide the werewolves for so long. This is the fifth Howling movie. We know there are probably going to be werewolves in here at some point, and yet these movies and especially this one, make it seem like some big mystery ("Oh, maybe it's big dogs!") until the wolves are finally revealed in the last fifteen minutes or so. I'm also frustrated that all of the movies have been so boring so far. There's a fairly nice attempt at a whodunnit mystery with this one, but most of it is dull. I had it figured out who the werewolf would turn out to be early on, so the reveal is not as cool as it should have been. There isn't even a big reveal sequence, just that last shot of the movie. They could have made that a lot more interesting.

Ugh, still three more Howling movies to go. Wish me luck.

No comments:

Post a Comment