Monday, October 14, 2013

HOWLING: NEW MOON RISING (1995)

You all know me.  You know how I make my livin'.  So believe me when I inform you that HOWLING: NEW MOON RISING is a bad movie unlike any other bad movie to ever appear on this Earth.  It feels totally alien, like something that exists on an alternate world, in a place unfit for good folks like us to live.


So we've established that pretty much every HOWLING entry has a different tone, different cast, and generally different, unintegrated storylines and that the only real linkage is that each features  werewolf content.  Given that, what would you think would be the best way to merge all of these widely-varying things?


1) Shift the setting to a honky tonk bar, 2) recycle footage from previous HOWLINGs, and 3) edit them around a thousand scenes of line dancing.  Duh!  I'm going to spoil this because what in the literal fuck.

SYNOPSIS: An Australian on a motorcycle arrives at a honky-tonk bar.  He's so charming that he's hired to work there right away.  Unphotogenic people sing songs ("I wrote this song about people my age who realize that drugs are a waste of time").  People line dance in darkened rooms, because dancing is best viewed as torsos floating above a miasma of shadows.  Whatever town this is has somehow attracted multiple foreigners, including the Australian and an unrelated Australian lady and they semi-date (keep in the family, I guess).  Meanwhile, a police investigator and a priest discuss the plots of HOWLING 4, HOWLING 5, and HOWLING 6 over film clips of those films.  Turns out that the boy Australian escaped from that castle in HOWLING 5, which (we're told) occurred in 1987 when the Communist government decided to open it up for entrepreneurial reasons.  Also escaping was Mary Lou, who is spotted in this crowd scene, either from HOWLING 6 or designed to suggest such:


Judging by the wardrobe, this also occurred in some Communist backwater.  Anyhowl, in this town, which is apparently just a bar and some shacks and a deer pen, attacks start happening.  This is a HOWLING movie, so we know it's a werewolf because what else howls (I would be on board for a killer Allen Ginsberg movie, though), but the movie makes sure to hammer home the point by making us watch incredibly red and terrible werewolf-night-vision, which makes it impossible to see anything.


I can't even tell whether anything worked or not because how do you evaluate this, so let's just cover

THINGS THAT HAPPENED:
The makers of the film could evidently not afford to hire a full cast of actors, so of course THEY JUST GOT THE PEOPLE WHO LIVED IN THE TOWN WHERE THEY FILMED TO PLAY THEMSELVES!!!!  Claude "Pappy" Allen plays Pappy, Bonnie Lagassa plays Bonnie, etc.  Some of them seem legit drunk, and I can't blame them, but someone has to pay for dialogue like "She died in the hospital, and she wasn't very happy about it."  Someone's responsible!


This is a HOWLING movie, but it plays more like an alternate-world version of Cheers.  Instead of Norm, we get jokes about bestiality, innumerable references to George Jones, penis jokes, line-dancing, recurring gags about dirt in the chili, a fart gag which is cheerily laughed at for nearly five minutes by the character we're supposed to suspect of being a werewolf, and !#@$@#%^%&.  This is shot and edited like a sitcom, but everything is skewed and sucks.  If THE ROOM is like the bizarro version of Melrose Place (and it is), HOWLING: NMR is the bizarro version of Joey or Major Dad.


Astoundingly, since the movie devotes so much time to rollicking farting in a bar, it STILL tries to blend a lot of the previous HOWLING sequels into some kind of single continuity.  The next time someone complains to you about the J.J. Abrams STAR TREK, force them to watch HOWLINGs IV-NEW MOON RISING.  Because, since they couldn't get the actress who played in HOWLING V to come back for this, we have a werewolf that can jump into new bodies!  Including a new actress body.


But look who they did get to come back!  Our protagonista from HOWLING IV, who tells us what happened in HOWLING IV with flashbacks, but gets elements of her own story wrong.  The same person who wrote HOWLING IV wrote this, btw, so WTF WTF WTF.  She also has not ripened into a great actress.  Her scene is only a few minutes long, but it includes a simulated phone conversation in which she never pauses or takes a breath!  It has the same tempo as the flower shop scene in THE ROOM.  Way to go, blonde woman!  You just took me totally out of the world of HOWLING: NEW MOON RISING.


Oh yeah, and the werewolf can also now mind-control people, too.  PS.  And that is how this subplot is introduced in the film, too.

You, the viewer, will be annoyed by a HOWLING sequel devoting well over half its content to country songs about drinking and shots of fat people drinking in a bar, but you will pine, YEARN, for those songs and those shots when you see the werewolf effects.


To quote the film, that "has got to be the dumbest son-of-a-bitchin' werewolf ever!"  

I feel like I should be angrier that this exists.  This film was distributed (and maybe funded?) by New Line, while lots of solid works from unknown filmmakers just faded into obscurity.  But, having lived through it, I can't really feel anything but confusion about the whole thing.  "For this all to make sense, the werewolf has to be in Pioneertown!"  Utterly aggressively awful, but I feel like you should see it.  It has soaring ambition, but it's a fool's quest (unify all the HOWLING storylines!) and the execution fails in trailblazing ways.  The most quixotic HOWLING of them all.

RATING: 1(?)

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