Sequels In The Dark: HOWLING VI: THE FREAKS
It’s October, and to help celebrate, we at BAD want to bring you just a shitload of horror writing. My contribution will be Sequels in the Dark - a weekly column (conceived by Phil Nobile Jr.) in which I discuss a late sequel from a horror franchise I don’t know at all or know just a tiny little bit. Will it be fun? So far - no!
I recently noticed that Netflix had both Howling III and Howling IV available, so I thought "why not?" and chose to do a Howling film for my last Sequels in the Dark entry (I'm quitting because of Gamer Gate). Despite Howling III’s reputation as being a little bit nuts, I was actually leaning towards watching the the far more unknown Howling VI. But then I started snooping around and noticed that there are actually fucking eight of these movies. I had no idea. After debating it a while, I went with Howling VI: The Freaks. I don’t know why.
But guess what! Howling VI isn’t as bad as you’d think. That doesn’t mean it’s good, really, but it’s not an embarrassment to DTV horror either. Think about what a non-compliment that is.
One thing I’ve noticed from the three Sequels in the Dark films I've seen so far is that they all start with really kick ass opening moments. Two of them began with boobs, while the other featured a mutant baby eating a cop just after being born. Sadly, this one begins with a random lady running and screaming through a forest before getting eaten by a movie camera (though I believe the movie camera was meant to represent the perspective of her killer). It’s not very exciting.
In a strange detail choice, the fully grown lady is carrying a stuffed animal as she runs through the forest. When we next see this stuffed animal, it is in the hands of Ian, a kind of wimpy-looking guy we meet as he’s walking across a long and lonely desert road. This happens for about twenty minutes. At one point, he drops the girl’s stuffed animal, I guess because he was tired of holding it. Either way, we get a nice shot of it lying on the road too. For another twenty minutes. Pretty exciting so far!
You see Ian with that doll and get the idea that he's the guy who killed the girl. Nope! He's way too nice for that. Just really really nice. Maybe the nicest bum drifter ever. Oh my god, is he boring.
Ian arrives at a town with a population of about seven. He manages to get room and board from a pastor in exchange for fixing up the guy's church. This leads to a twenty minute montage of these two fellas bonding while cutting wood, pounding nails, and doing lots of painting. The pastor has a hot daughter, and she totally checks Ian out for an additional twenty minutes. This is the greatest horror film ever made.
I’m just going to cut to the chase here: Ian is a werewolf. But he’s not very good at it. He travels with a calendar which clearly has all the full moons labeled. But while lying down for a nap on one of these full moon afternoons, he accidentally kicks it off the bed. Because of this, he doesn’t wake up until it’s already dark and too late to get away from the pastor and his hot daughter (who comes on to him pretty heavy only to be rebuked by this white knight moron). I want you to think about this. His werewolfism would be under control if he just didn’t accidentally kick that calendar off his bed, as if calendars were alarm clocks.
Not that it matters. Ian turns into a sort of werewolf (he doesn’t really have a snout, so Ian-Wolf really just looks like an actor wearing lots of makeup and fake hair), but instead of killing anyone, he just wanders around until daylight. There’s one part where he’s given a kitten to eat, and he won’t even do that.
So what’s his deal? Well, Ian is following a carnival freakshow around the country on a mission of vengeance. The guy running the freakshow killed Ian's family (and that girl from the beginning) and turned him into a werewolf somehow. Sadly for him, the guy running the freakshow learns he’s a werewolf and kidnaps him for his own financial gain. Sadly for the guy running the freakshow, he appears to be played by the guy movies get when they can’t afford Julian Sands.
This freakshow operator is actually a master vampire instead of a werewolf. As such, he kills lots of townsfolk as the movie progresses. This is actually a big deal because the town is so small that any time one person dies, a whole business seems to just stay closed forever. There are two different scenes were people gather around a “Closed” sigh, scratching their heads about what happened to Sue or George or whoever.
Ultimately, Mr. Nice Werewolf gets into a fight with Mr. Mean Vampire. You’d think he’d bite the vampire’s head off or something, but instead he stabs his neck with a railroad spike and exposes him to sunlight. Like I said, he’s really bad at being a werewolf.
I have no idea how much Howling VI has to do with the rest of the Howling series, of which I’ve only seen the original. I doubt there is much of a connection. This looks a lot more like an episode of some werewolf anthology show than the continuation of any story. Within that context, it’s actually not that bad. The werewolf guy has okay motivation, the stuff with the town is kind of interesting, and there’s even a satisfying mini-arc for one of the freaks, a young sad guy named Alligator Boy. Well, that’s his stage name, anyway.
Speaking of the freaks, there aren’t many. Deep Roy plays Toones, a small guy with three arms. There’s a half man, half lady who lets Deep Roy touch his/her one boob. There’s one other freak, but I can’t remember what his deal is other than he likes bugs. Most of the freaks we see in this film come in the form of a really lame-looking freak museum.
On top of all that, Ian actually ends up sleeping with the pastor’s daughter. And after dispatching his long-hunted foe, he carries her out of the movie, right into an endless desert without the aid of food or water. Best suicide ever!
Maybe you guys can weigh in below. What is your favorite Howling movie beside the first. There are MANY to choose from so think about it.