HOWLING IV: THE ORIGINAL NIGHTMARE
A terrifying journey into the gaping jaws of death…
Directed by John Hough
I’ve read The Howling Trilogy by Gary Brandner comprising The Howling, Return of the Howling and The Howling III: Echoes and this was said to be the closest adaptation of the first novel. The first film, The Howling (1981) was also an adaptation of the first novel and a very good film, I’ve seen it many times since the 80s. Anyone familiar with the Howling films will know they’ve had their ups and downs, mainly downs, so I wasn’t expecting much from this fourth entry, anyone who’s seen Howling II: Stirba – Werewolf Bitch (1985) and/or The Marsupials: The Howling III (1987) will find that understandable. Neither of the previous two films was an adaptation of the Howling novels and while both have their charms they veer wildly off course. The fact that John Hough also directed Twins of Evil (1971), a true Hammer classic, also left me feeling casually optimistic.
Starring Romy Windsor as Marie, Michael T. Weiss as Richard Adams, Antony Hamilton as Tom, Lamya Derval as Eleanor, Norman Anstey as Sheriff, Kate Edwards as Mrs. Ormstead, Dennis Smith as Mr. Ormstead, Susanne Severeid as Janice, Megan Kruskal as Sister Ruth, Greg Latter as John, Maxine John as Paula, Dennis Folbigge as Dr. Coombes, Anthony James as Father Camefron and Dale Cutts as Dr. Heinemann.
An author, Marie, goes to stay in a cottage in a town called Drago with her husband Richard and dog Pierre for a much-needed break; she sees this nun in a lift who disappears. When they get to the cottage Marie has strange dreams and hears a howling coming from the woods. On top of that Pierre (LOL), the dog, goes missing. She later finds Pierre’s head (Not so funny now is it?). She also sees some ghosts. She befriends a woman called Janice who used to be a nun, and whose friend, Sister Ruth, went missing and was found in Drago, having experienced something strange and hearing the howling too, Janice tells her Sister Ruth died. Marie sees Sister Ruth’s ghost in the cottage. A couple, John and Paula, Marie briefly meets, are killed in the woods. Marie and Janice begin to investigate.
The acting is pretty terrible, even I noticed that, although I didn’t find anyone annoying, just amateurish. I liked the locations, the scenes shot in the woods had a pretty decent atmosphere for such a cheap-looking film. The film attempts to tell a serious story which I liked; however good or bad it turned out I didn’t pay for a comedy you know, intentional or unintentional. It doesn’t come close to The Howling (1981) and while it may well be closer to the novel I can’t say I really noticed myself, it has been a while since I read them, there are certainly differences to the book nonetheless, name changes for one. Perhaps more important is whether this film is worth a watch and that totally depends on whether you A: are a fan of the Howling series of films and want to see it based solely on that or B: you don’t mind straight to video horror films from the 80s that don’t reach any great heights but are something to pass the time; I would tick both those boxes personally so I enjoyed it. What effects there are come pretty late in the film but are pretty damn good actually but I doubt they’ll save it for anyone who’s already bored, which I wasn’t.
I’m going to score it 81% in honour of The Howling ’81 because it was a reasonably pleasant surprise, I was expecting far, far worse. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who doesn’t know what they’re getting into, the likelihood is they’ll just think it’s shit, but I liked it and thought it was worth the £6.75 I paid.