Howling IV: The Original Nightmare

Howling IV: The Original Nightmare
Howling IV.png
You’re better off watching the 1981 original instead of this remake.
Genre: Horror
Directed By: John Hough
Produced By: Harry Alan Towers
Written By: Freddie Rowe
Clive Turner
Starring: Romy Winsdor
Michael T. Weiss
Suzanne Severeid
Antony Hamilton
Lamya Derval
Photography: Color
Distributed By: Allied Entertainment
Release Date: November 1, 1988
Runtime: 94 minutes
Country: South Africa
Prequel: Howling III: The Marsupials
Sequel: Howling V: The Rebirth


Howling IV: The Original Nightmare is a 1988 direct-to-video horror film, and the fourth entry in the Howling series.

Plot

After suffering what appears to be a nervous breakdown, successful author Marie Adams is sent with her husband to the mysterious village of Drago in order to recuperate. She continues to be plagued by hallucinations, however, and her husband begins acting strangely after being attacked by an unidentified animal. Her friend Janice joins her in Drago and reveals that legend has it that the town was once home to a colony of werewolves who were supposedly killed when the town was previously burned down, causing Marie to suspect that the town may still be inhabited by werewolves.

Why It's a Nightmare

  1. As you might be able to guess from the title and plot summary, it's basically just an inferior remake of the original 1981 The Howling. The producers claimed they wanted to make a more faithful adaptation of the novel that the series is based on, even though the only real differences between it and the first movie were the ending and the main character's backstory.
    • What's more, this is the third time the movie series has used the "mysterious village of werewolves" premise, as the third one had used it as well. And while that movie was definitely no great shakes either, it at least put a new spin on the idea, instead of just rehashing the first one.
  2. One of the most immediately obvious problems with the movie is that they didn't have the money to record any sound on-set, resulting in the whole thing being dubbed after the fact. What makes it worse is the laughably clumsy attempts to hide the dubbing, such as characters constantly speaking their lines when facing away from the camera, or while something is covering up their face.
  3. Probably because of the fact that everyone had to dub their lines in after the fact, just about all of the actors give awful performances, especially Michael T. Weiss. Suzanne Severeid is the only person who gives a halfway decent performance.
  4. The vast majority of the movie is just padding, broken up by the odd jump scare caused whenever Marie has a hallucination. We don't see a single, non-hallucinatory werewolf until the last ten minutes.
  5. Awful cinematography and editing.
  6. Most of the werewolves that we do see are obviously just huskies with their eyes tinted red in post-production.
  7. The production does a poor job of trying to pass off South Africa as California.
  8. Pointlessly nasty sub-plot where Marie's dog runs off when they arrive at Drago, and she later finds it horribly mutilated in the woods. Not only is this ripped off from Friday the 13th Part 2 of all things, but it's not horrifying so much as just pointlessly cruel.
  9. The scene where Richard transforms into a werewolf is just plain weird, featuring Richard disintegrating into a skeleton in a puddle of goo, which then reforms into a werewolf. The effects are actually done quite well considering the limited budget, but it's still one of the strangest werewolf transformations ever put to film.
  10. No real ending; after Marie apparently kills all the werewolves, one suddenly jumps at her through the flames, after which the movie suddenly cuts to the credits. Since they just re-used footage of one of her hallucinations for this, however, it ends up leaving the viewer unclear whether she actually died, or if it was just another hallucination (The Howling: New Moon Rising eventually went with the latter... and then killed her off anyway after a few minutes).

Redeeming Qualities

  1. The climax, where one of the surviving characters lures the werewolves into a bell-tower and the other blows it up with a conveniently-placed dynamite truck, is actually pretty cool.
  2. Even though they only appear for the last ten minutes, the make-up and effects used for the main werewolf are good.
  3. The movie's theme song, "Something Evil" by Justin Hayward, is catchy, even if a light 80s synth-pop song is a slightly odd choice of theme song for a horror movie.

External links