Yeah, yeah, I know, I know, but hear me out...
has been stated many times, werewolves are my favorite flavor of
monster stories, and I will happily sit through any movie about them.
That's a stance that has bitten me on the ass more often than not, as
truly good werewolf films are as rare as tits on a trout, but one must
sift through the trash to find the gems. 1981's THE HOWLING was a legit
landmark in the sub-genre and a winner at the box office, so sequels
were inevitable. That said, THE HOWLING just might be the prime example
of a good film that was followed by a string of nothing but awful
sequels. The majority of the films in this franchise are not worth
mentioning, but HOWLING III: THE MARSUPIALS is a study in off the wall
madness that does not deserve to be merely slagged off.
Jerboa (Imogen Annesley), a girl from the Australian outback community of Flow (spell it backwards), flees her home for the outside world when the tribe's leader makes his rapey intentions toward her clear. (The community, a pack of lycanthropes descended from the extinct thylacine, a marsupial called the Tasmanian Tiger or the Tasmanian Wolf, is mostly female, and this guy is definitely the animalistic alpha.) In Sydney, her chance encounter with Donny (Lee Biolos) lands her a job as the fresh new face in a horror movie (in which her first scene involves her character getting gang raped by werewolves, so go figure), and in no time love between Jerboa and Donny blooms. But a trio of Jerboa's tribal sisters venture forth to bring her back, but what none involved anticipate is the interest of the U.S. government in werewolves, which brings both scientific researchers and the military into the mix, and on top of all that, Jerboa finds that she is pregnant with a hybrid baby by Donny...
If all of that sounds loony, that's because it is, and the story crams too many ideas into the running time to be manageable, which only adds to the film's fever dream entertainment value. Among other elements, we get a Russian ballerina who happens to be a werewolf and who transforms during a rehearsal (a werewolf in a red tutu is something that you did not know you needed to see),
shamanic rituals via which indigenous werewolves channel a gigantic spirit wolf to deal with those who would do them harm (a truly awful puppet head), the birth of Jerboa's baby and its ascent from her crotch to her fuzzy abdominal pouch, and my favorite, Jerboa's sisters making their way to Sydney dressed as nuns, only for them to wolf out and maintain their costumes.
Holy shit, indeed!
The grave error made my the marketing team in charge of HOWLING III is that none of its advertising even remotely hinted at its comedic nature, so fans who showed up expecting a gory and scary yarn in keeping with the classic first installment came away sorely disappointed. Consequently, the film gets a lot of hate from the vast majority of horror addicts. The film is is clearly intended as a comedy, and as such it's a pleasant and ludicrous change of pace that bears a distinctly antipodean sense of humor. Cheap and very, very silly, this one is not for most tastes, but I say take it for the humorous jape that it is.