Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Howling: New Moon Rising

Here we are.  The seventh entry in the Howling Series Retrospective Review.

Here it is.  The nadir of the entire Howling series.
Oh boy, this is a rough one.

Need a refresher?  Check out previous installments in the series here:
The Howling
Howling II
Howling III
Howling IV
Howling V
Howling VI

So, okay.  Full disclosure:  One of the main reasons I started this project of watching and reviewing all the Howling films was because I wanted to write about this particular sequel.  Why?  Well, I have fond memories attached to this one, of watching it with friends and laughing at its terribleness, and for a brief time this was one of my favorite bad movies.  When I started the HSRR this was actually the only Howling sequel I had seen and, in a way, this entire project has been leading to this point. . .

Which is a bummer because The Howling: New Moon Rising (1995) is such a bad movie.

Like, really bad.  So bad that it only barely qualifies as a movie at all.  Inept is the word that covers most of the qualities of the filmmaking.  This isn't a horror movie, it's more like the local community group made a commercial for a small desert town saloon and a flimsy werewolf story was grafted onto it.  The movie is full of local color, and while it is interesting to an extent, there is nothing particularly exciting, oddball, or weird going on here.  The only truly interesting thing about The Howling: New Moon Rising is that it exists at all.
The plot:  Basically a redheaded Australian motorcycle cowboy (Clive Turner) rides into this small town somewhere outside of Barstow where the residents like to line dance and hang out at the local bar, Pappy and Harriet's Pioneer Town Palace.  There are some werewolf killings, the town gets suspicious of the redheaded stranger, but in reality he is on the trail of the werewolf himself..

The story, as it is, is augmented by the cast's attempts at jokes and comedy and also with all the line dancing and musical performances (of which there are many).  The werewolf stuff in this movie is practically non-existent and that which does exist is mostly footage from previous Howling sequels. . . man this movie is bad...

Let's just cut to the chase.  Here's the 7 Things You Need to Know about The Howling: New Moon Rising:

1.  The badness of this movie cannot be understated.  Not only is this thing not scary and barely a horror anything, not only is it overstuffed with montages and cheap, lame humor and endless line dancing by its non-actor cast, but it is so poorly put together from top to bottom that its cheapness becomes fascinating.  It's a slow motion car wreck with a country-western soundtrack.

2.  I'd say close to 30% of this movie is made up of footage from Howlings IV, V, and VI.  In the business they call this "padding."  This movie is so padded it could fall off a building and be fine.  All of this exposition and backstory is told first to a detective by a priest, who partially recounts the events of Part V and VI.

Then later, Marie (Romy Windsor) from Howling IV returns to the series and tells the priest about the events from that film.  They wisely use the footage of Richard's gooey transformation scene, which is the best thing in Part IV.

The first glimpse of a werewolf in New Moon Rising doesn't come until about 30 minutes into the movie and it's footage from Howling V.  In fact, the only original werewolf scenes in this movie are unbelievably terrible.

3.  The CGI transformation.  Oh shit.  This is just, so damn awful.  Up until this point the werewolf in this movie has been represented by red lensed POV camera shots, running around the desert and stalking people.

During the finale, when it is revealed that. . whoever is the werewolf (Cheryl?), she transforms onscreen but it is done with a sub-shitty '90s morphing CGI effect which is quite simply the worst werewolf transformation of all time.

After the morph job, the werewolf busts through a door and the entire town shoots the creature down.  It immediately cuts to the band playing in the bar as the credits roll.  It's an abrupt and yet merciful end to such a movie. It struggled with everything else.  Why stick the landing?

4.  Line Dancing Purgatory.

I've mentioned all the line dancing.  It is often shown in cutaways during bar scenes and montages.  What isn't quite clear is exactly where these fun loving people are in relation to the band that is playing.  It looks like some dark empty barn but I think it's obviously some sort of country-western purgatory for lost souls.

5.  Most of the humor and jokes in the film are real corny or lowbrow type stuff, but there is one that I do like for some reason:  the "dirt in the chili" scene.

This attempt at humor has Pappy making chili outside in a pot hanging over a fire.  One guy looks in and says, "there's dirt in the chili, Pappy."  Pappy takes off his apron and replies "I need a drink!"
Cut to inside and Pappy gets his drink.  This is also a running joke, as Pappy is supposed to have quit drinking on the orders of Mrs. Pappy.  So when she walks into the bar and Pappy hurriedly hides his whiskey, she instead says to him "Pappy, do you know there's dirt in the chili?"

"I know it!  I know it," he shouts.  Classic Pappy!

6.  Clive Tuner:  producer, writer, editor, director, star.  I believe it is safe to say that he is the responsible party for what we have here.

Turner also co-wrote, co-produced, and co-starred in Howling IV and V.  He is apparently supposed to be the same character from Part V here in New Moon Rising, even though that guy clearly died during that movie.

That aside, it could be considered interesting that Turner tried to connect the events of four different Howling sequels, four movies that really have nothing to do with one another.  The only other sequel that tries to connect with a previous film is Part II, which, while doing a bad job at that, is an infinitely better and more entertaining film than New Moon Rising.

Too bad, Turner. Your attempt at a shared universe was an abject failure.

7.  This movie has never been given a proper DVD release in America; it can only be legitimately found on VHS.  It can be found on foreign bootlegs and whatnot. . or you can check it out on YouTube. I don't normally advocate watching movies on that site, but in this crappy case, and also since there is no movie trailer to be found on the internet, I've made an exception.

Final Thought:  Don't see this movie, but if you do, just don't.

When I started this project I was unaware that there was an eighth and more recent Howling film. Crap.  I got one more of these to do!  I'm in Howling purgatory!!

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