Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ten Statements About....THE HOWLING III: THE MARSUPIALS (1987)

I know European women are supposed to be hairy, but
"What you need is a smoking gun."
"What I need is a werewolf holding a smoking gun."

1) As if it wasn't apparent from such previous entries on his cv as the woman-raping human cicada epic The Beast Within or the super-hero musical parody The Return of Captain Invincible (which features Christopher Lee singing and dancing his way through a bartending chart), Phillipe Mora is not a person who plays by the rules...and Lord, does this film bear this out. Who else would look at this franchise and think, 'this would be perfect for my marsupial spy/romance/satire'....

2) That being said...the opening of the film, which features anthropological footage of a group of aborigines posing before a female werewolf they had just tortured and killed, the black and white slowly fading into full color, is truly disquietingly surreal.

3) While I will admit that female lead Imogen Annesley is very sexy, I was more intrigued by the performance of Dagmar Blahova as the Russian lycanthrope Olga. It's not because she is attractive--she isn't--or that her dialogue is convincingly delivered--it isn't. It's because she has such a weird physicality that she brings to her role, especially when she's in the transitionary state between human and animal, that you can't take your eyes off her. The way she snaps her teeth and contorts her face is far more convincing than the low budget werewolf masks that other people are saddled with.

Boy, some of these at-home pregnancies
go horribly wrong....
4) Boy, if you're going to base your werewolves on a specific species, I can't think of any animal more nightmarish that the Tasmanian Wolf. The way, judging from the film footage shown in the movie, that animal was able to open its toothy mouth so impossibly wide is insane....

5) There is such a demented sense of kitchen-sink-edness to this film, as if somebody is whispering in Mora's ear, 'How about we try this?' This is a film where it seems like the orientation changes every ten minutes, which oddly enough gives it an insane sort of energy that drives it forward. However....

6) The film grinds to a total halt roughly the moment we find out that Max Fairchild's Tylo has called down this legendary werewolf spirit to destroy the military contingent sent out to annihilate the remaining werewolves. The fifteen minutes before the end becomes a meandering, sputtering group of disconnected scenes that shows that no one had an idea how to end this movie. You could easily lop off the last ten minutes and not miss anything significant.

7) And on a related note--it rings false that some twenty years passes in that fifteen minutes, and the fact that the low budget demanded a major plot development is reduced to a big gout of expository dialogue only makes that final act a real soporific.

"Yeah, well...I went native, opened an organic bakery,
joined a commune...the usual...how about you, Bill?"
8) Let's be honest here--the special effects are pretty much uniformly awful. The little marsupial baby in particular is wince-worthy. Luckily, the film is so lunatic in its plotting, fearlessly dropping stupid idea after stupid idea into the pot that you can overlook much of the lame animatronics and rubbery masks.

9) I rather like how this film gleefully has its aboriginal guide character back away very suddenly from the expedition when it realizes this werewolf spirit is on the hunt, advising people how slowly they're going to get et if they don't turn tail and run.

10) I can understand the reasoning behind why a key scene with Barry Otto's Beckmeyer interviewing Thylo suddenly switches from film to videotape, but the abruptness of the changeover and the length at which the video portions go on blunts the impact.

Overall...yes, it's a dumb, dumb movie I cannot possibly defend on many levels. But the severely demented nature of the plotting creates an energy and sense of fun that draws me in every time. If only they truncated that last section...

No comments:

Post a Comment