When I said The Howling III was the worst werewolf sequel I’d ever seen, I meant it. The film opens with a scene so weird that, rather than try to describe it with words, I’m going to show you a screengrab from it:
See that? I mean, look at that for a second. Really stop and look at it, take it all in. This is literally the first few seconds of this movie, a silent shot of a bunch of half-naked tribesmen around a guy in a werewolf suit. I’m sure it’s supposed to be a werewolf, but look at it. Jesus, they don’t even cover the guy’s legs. Is this supposed to be a guy wearing half of a werewolf Halloween costume? Because that’s what it looks like. Unfortunately, we never find that out, because this is pretty much the last we see of this shot for the rest of the god damn movie. All we know is it happened in Cape York, Australia, 1905. So, we see these super happy tribe guys, all of whom have wonderful headdresses, huddled around a dude in a werewolf suit with a spear sticking out of him, while “creepy” music plays in the background. They all poke the guy, laugh a bit, then walk out of frame. Flash cut to outside a house in Leovich, Siberia. A guy who looks suspiciously like an Eskimo approaches a dead body out in the snow, he tries to open the front door but can’t, so he runs toward the camera, which is apparently a werewolf because he looks straight at it and screams. Another flash cut and we’re in a room filled with giant computers (you know, the kind of giant computers they had in the 70s and 80s), and green words flash across a black monitor:
“Werewolf Was Sighted Near Village of Leovich
Three Villagers Killed
Special Army Are Tracking Monster”
It’s revealed, by way of conveniently timed subtitles, that this room is actually in the headquarters of the National Intelligence Agency of the United States. This is a scene what has one of the best lines of dialogue in the entire film, which goes like this:
Agent #1: “Werewolves loose in the Soviet Union.”
Agent #2: “Do we tell the powers that be?”
Agent #1: “Well, I’m not tellin’ ‘em!”
But even that stellar line of dialogue doesn’t outweigh the rest of this movie, which is just awful. Let’s take a minute to look at the title of the film again: The Howling III: The Marsupials. Spoiler alert, the werewolves have pouches. Like kangaroos. (Werearoos? Kangawolves? I don’t know) The rest of the film revolves around an Australian weremarsupial named Jerboa, who is on the run from other weremarsupials who want to make her marry another weremarsupial that she doesn’t want to marry (how many more times can I type weremarsupial?). She falls asleep in a park and is chased, then confronted, by a man who tells her she’d be perfect for a horror movie he’s shooting with some friends nearby (who hasn’t used that line?), entitled “Shapeshifters”. It’s a werewolf movie within a werewolf movie! Anyway, she inexplicably agrees to be in his werewolf movie, the two hit it off (read: they bone) while shooting and everything goes smoothly. Until the wrap party for the movie, where there’s bright flashing lights, which of course causes people to turn into werewolves. I mean, come on, who doesn’t know that? Jeroba freaks out at the thought of wolfing out near her boyfriend, so she runs away from everyone and directly into the path of a moving car. She’s hit and taken to the hospital, where the doctors test her blood and exclaim “Holy shit, this woman is a werewolf!” and proceed to do even more tests. Unfortunately for the doctors and everyone involved, three werewolf nuns, who are actually Jeroba’s sisters, kill a bunch of people at the hospital and rescue Jeroba.
The doctors who thought they were going to be famous for being the first to dissect a werewolf become super bummed that their werewolf has escaped, so they decide to go watch a ballet troupe practice to forget their troubles. This ends up being a good call, since one of the dancers changes into a werewolf while they are watching! Boom, problem solved! I know, I know, that makes no sense. I’m going to let you in on a little secret, here: Nothing in this movie makes any sense. Not a damn thing.
The Howling III has some of the worst practical monster makeup/costume designs I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen a lot, trust me), the acting is even worse than that in the previous film (which I didn’t think was possible), and like I said before, none of it even makes any sense. The one thing that most of these movies have going for them is at least there is a story that makes some modicum of sense. I mean, most werewolf movies are fairly straightforward. Guy or girl gets bitten by werewolf, guy or girl turns into werewolf, someone comes along and kills guy or girl while they are werewolf. Something along those lines. This movie is all over the god damn place. In fact, it turns out the monsters aren’t even really werewolves at all, they’re a hybrid werewolf that has the same genetic makeup of a Thylacine, an Australian animal most commonly referred to as a “Tasmanian Wolf” that was hunted to the point of extinction by humans in the early 1900s. So, werethylacines? Jesus.
I know I say this pretty often in these reviews, but it is no less true, especially with this movie: There is a lot wrong with this film. So much. It’s honestly hard to watch and barely even enjoyable from a “wow, it’s so bad!” standpoint that a lot of horror sequels have going for them. The second Howling film is more enjoyable than this one, and I hate almost everything about that movie. If this movie had Christopher Lee, as the second one did, would it edge it’s way into the “enjoyably bad” category? No. I can say that with a clear conscience. I would absolutely not enjoy this film even a tiny bit more than I do now if Christopher Lee had something to do with it. In fact, I would probably hate it even more because it would be another tarnishing blemish on Mr. Lee’s already sometimes confusing career trajectory (I could barely forgive him for the second Howling movie).
Do I recommend this movie? No. I can’t condone telling anyone to watch this movie for any reason other than maybe I secretly hate them. A lot. If you’ve ever wondered what a weremarsupial would look like, then knock yourself out. If you hate yourself (a lot) and want to waste an hour and a half of your life, go right ahead. But when you find yourself screaming at the television screen, not out of terror, but out of confusion and frustration, and when you vow to never visit Australia merely because it plays such a huge role in this film, don’t say I didn’t warn you.