A young woman escapes from a small tribe in the Australian outback and heads to the city where a chance meeting with an assistant film director who decides to cast her in his latest film “Shape Shifters Part 8.” But what he doesn’t know is that she is actually a werewolf. Meanwhile, a scientist looking for evidence that werewolves exist uncovers the tribe and must protect them when the government wants to destroy them, seeing them as a threat to mankind.
The third of The Howling series, this second sequel decides to ditch any connection with the previous films (save for the werewolves) and goes off and does its own thing in Australia of all places. But if you thought the last sequel was bad then you haven’t seen anything yet. Director Philippe Mora, returning from Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf, promised to deliver a better sequel after the critical and financial backlash his film received. He denied it was his doing, blamed the producers for meddling and then went off to make his own film free of studio constraint. Adding a touch of humour – scratch that –throwing in a huge dollop of cheese and ham, Mora manages to create an even worse cornball sequel and prove that he was the one behind the big pile of werewolf poo, not the producers.
There is so much wrong with Howling III: The Marsupials, it’s hard to know where to start. The film seems to have no specific main plot, with about ten sub-plots all being crammed in and desperately fighting for some screen time. The basic story about Jerboa and Donny would have been enough for most film makers to base their film around but Mora throws in everything-but-the-kitchen-sink. Without a single direction to follow, the film drifts around aimlessly and rather confusingly at times. I’m sure that by the time the film has finished, it has spanned something like twenty years of story. It’s just too much for a ninety-minute movie.
Australians should prosecute the makers of this film for being so damned stereotypical. In one scene, we see an Aborigine pop out of nowhere and actually shout “wanna throw another shrimp on the barby?” Talk about stereotyping an entire country. To completely kill off the last microscopic thread of credibility that the film has, that famous Australian export, Dame Edna Everage, makes a cameo appearance at the end. All the film needed was Crocodile Dundee and a couple of cans of Fosters and this would have been the advertisement of the century – actually a couple of Mick Dundee’s friends from Crocodile Dundee (Nugget and Donk) appear as hunters in this one.
Another of the film’s many weaknesses is that of the acting, which is dreadful. I don’t know who to start on – ah yes I do. The fat bloke who plays the ‘film director’ is an abomination of an actor. He just looks like someone off the street who was given £20, told to say a few lines and then returned to walking his dog or whatever he was doing. He’s symbolic of the rest of the cast, clearly people untrained in the arts of presence, delivery and emotion.
Then we move onto what should have been the real star attraction of the film – the werewolves. At least the original The Howling had some fantastic make-up effects and a great transformation scene. The effects in here are lame, cheap and it’s easy to see that they are men in suits. The werewolves (actually not even proper werewolves, they’re marsupials) look nothing like the rabid chap on the poster, instead possessing more of a goofy cartoon character vibe. Case in point: the scene in which three of the werewolves/marsupials disguise themselves as nuns to rescue Jerboa. There is also very little gore and in many of the werewolf attack scenes, the werewolves don’t even kill their victims. No signs of howling or full moons – just what was Mora playing at?
Howling III: The Marsupials is the most bizarre of the sequels but definitely not the worst simply for the fact that you have no idea what is going to come next. From Russian werewolf ballerinas to newly-born marsupials scurrying into pouches, the film succeeds in making itself intentionally terrible. Entertaining? Not in the slightest. But intriguing to see the lengths that some people will go to make their films stand out.