Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Howling V: The Rebirth (1989)

... aka: And Then There Were... Barely Any Werewolves! (I kid!)
... aka: Aullidos 5: El regreso (Howling 5: The Return)
... aka: Grito de Horror 5: O Renascimento (Horror Scream 5: The Renaissance)
... aka: Howling V, The

Directed by:
Neal Sundstrom

Count Istvan (Philip Davis) invites nine strangers to an isolated Hungarian castle that has been closed down for 500 years after everyone inside was slaughtered save for one baby. Among the guests invited to the opening are photographer David Gillespie (Ben Cole), doctor Catherine Peake (Victoria Catlin), airhead aspiring actress Marylou Summers (Elizabeth Shé), writer Gail Cameron (Stephanie Faulkner), pro tennis player Jonathan Lane (Mark Sivertsen), adulterous playboy Richard Hamilton (William Shockley), historian Professor Dawson (Nigel Triffitt), Scandinavian actress Anna Benson (former model and 1977 "Miss Sweden" and "Miss World" title-holder Mary Stavin) and ponytail-sporting Aussie Ray Price (Clive Turner, who also produced and wrote the script). Quite a varied group, but each turn out to be connected in some way they don't yet realize and all happen to share the same odd birthmark on their arm. Oh yes, and one just so happens to be a werewolf. The Count has lured them all there to find out just who it is and to finally put an end to the curse once and for all.

Part V isn't at all like the previous four films. In fact, this is one amazingly disjointed series in general. The first is a vastly entertaining, in-joke-filled horror film with a sense of humor that helped put director Joe Dante on the map and was an entirely American production. The second is a misbegotten attempt at camp barely linked to the first film, which had UK backing and was filmed mostly in Prague. The third is a truly bizarre kitchen sink horror-comedy-social commentary with marsupial werewolves that was an Australian production. Part IV was a serious and dull virtual remake of the first movie minus the professionalism and humor that was filmed in South Africa. And this one, which has clearly been influenced most by "Ten Little Indians," had UK, US and Hungarian backing and was filmed in Budapest. If you're keeping score, that's five different movies filmed in five different countries that seldom even relate to one another. None of the sequels come anywhere near the original film and this is no exception to that rule, but it's somewhat better than a few of the other entries.

One of the things I liked best about this was the Gothic setting, which is quite unusual for a werewolf tale. There are secret passageways and an endless labyrinth of catacombs underneath the dimly-lit castle for the action to play out in and the art direction and sets are fairly good in this low-budget film. It's also set during a bad blizzard that traps all of the characters inside, so the snowy atmosphere was a nice change of pace, as well. That said, every other component of this film was highly uneven. The cast is a mixed bag of competent actors (Davis, Catlin) and embarrassing amateurs (Shé being the worst offender there, though several of the male cast members give her a run for her money). The dialogue is frequently laughable and the whole mystery plot - possibly inspired by the earlier who's-the-werewolf mystery THE BEAST MUST DIE (1974) - also isn't anything to write home about. The filmmakers employ at least one annoying and highly unlikely 'cheat' scene to conceal the identity of the wolf until the very end.

I had to brighten this image up considerably in order to see even this much!

Perhaps the most disappointing thing of all is that this film is sorely lacking in werewolf scenes. You rent a werewolf movie to see werewolves, am I right? Well here we never once get a full view of one of the creatures. It is almost always shown in silhouette or in shots too dark to make out and the werewolf's face is only shown two times that I recall, with both shots little more than brief, barely lit flashes. Needless to say, that also means there are no man-to-wolf transformation scenes that the series basically hinges its reputation on and that all four previous films contain. Don't expect any blood, gore or on-screen deaths either. All of the victims either just react to an approaching werewolf or get pulled off-screen to die. If not for two instances of female nudity, this probably would have received a PG-13 rating.



spookyx3 said...

the big cast keeps the dialogue fairly snappy (which gave me some hope) that is until they have to split up and start doing the usual horror movie things. oh, well. nice castle, though.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

The would have gone down much easier with just a little werewolf action. It's like the werewolf could have been pretty much any monster (or a human killer for that matter) and it wouldn't really have even changed the plot a whole lot.

spookyx3 said...

felt like a quick retrofit of a dusty AND THEN THERE WERE NONE whodunnit script.

at one point they cut in on the tail end of an anecdote clive turner's character (?) is telling in the castle: "'why don't you try acting, dear boy?'" supposed to be what olivier quipped to dustin hoffman who was going through method hell for his part in MARATHON MAN.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...