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John’s Old School Horror Corner: Howling V: The Rebirth (1989)

February 17, 2013

MY CALLThe Rebirth of what?  Unrelated to the rest of the franchise, this stand alone is designed more like a slasher flick and deviates from the pack theme created by The Howling (1981).  You don’t see much happen and the monster is saved for the finale, but the mood is alright.  But I’d skip it.  It’s simply not eventful enough.  IF YOU LIKE THIS WATCH:  Well, if you’re in the market for a great werewolf movie that has a sense of humor, then see An American Werewolf in London (1981)–hands down the best werewolf movie ever made!  Second best would be The Howling (1981), which takes itself quite seriously.  Another fun one is Cursed (2005), which is loaded with clichés and honors many past horror flicks.  If you want another utterly ridiculous werewolf movie, then move on to Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf (1985) and Howling 3: The Marsupials (1987).  But you should really avoid Howling IV: The Original Nightmare (1988) and The Howling Reborn (2011) unless you’re one of those totalists who need to see everything like me.

This sequel has all the makings of a stand alone, pick’em off one by one flick.  A group of people of various backgrounds are brought together by a strange host in a Hungarian castle which has been sealed for 500 years…oh, and a werewolf tags along and whittles down their numbers.
A werewolf…or bigfoot?

Among these tourists are tennis player Jonathan (Mark Sivertsen; Vampires, The Last Stand), actress Marylou Summers (Elizabeth Shé; Howling VI: Freaks, Howling: New Moon Rising), Dr. Catherine Peake (Victoria Catlin; Maniac Cop, Ghoulies), actress Anna (Mary Stavin; House), a professor, a writer, a model, a photographer and all other sorts.  The deliberately creepy Count Istvan (Philip Davis; Alien 3) hosts the trip.
Count Istvan even has a creepy birthmark.

Following the standard slasher-horror formula, within 30 minutes someone is killed by a killer we barely glimpse, people are already pairing off and getting intimate, and a few patrons begin to feel that this trip is some sort of set up designed to trap them in the castle as a result of a terrible storm.  As the story continues we learn more about who’s in on this “set up.”
It’s worth mentioning that in this scene the guy convinces the woman that you “have to bathe nude” in spas like this.  How this dumb woman survives this movie is beyond me.

In the spirit of totally random horror movie flavor, our victims end up in a vast catacombed labyrinth under the castle where the werewolf, as if in a videogame or Greek myth, wanders about as a monstrous hazard.  As silly as this is, it works and fits in well in this tolerably decent bad 80s horror.  What doesn’t work is that we see very little of the werewolf very rarely, the gore is only after the fact, and there was no transformation scene.  You can’t do a werewolf movie and have no transformation scene!!!

I didn’t hate this but I wouldn’t recommend it either.  While I enjoyed the mood and setting, the gore is too minimal and we see too little to garner enough interest.

FRANCHISE/SEQUEL NOTE:  I find no story-based connection between this, The Howling (1981; the best of the series), Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf (1985; random and hilarious), Howling 3: The Marsupials (1987; still a lot of weird fun) or Howling V (1989).  Howling IV: The Original Nightmare (1988) tried and horribly failed to remake the excellence of part one while being more true to the book and The Howling Reborn (2011) was a reboot with a contemporary spin.

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