Howling III: The Marsupials

Howling III: The Marsupials ★★½

Hooptober 3.0

There's a real possibility that I'm just too far down the rabbit hole in my horror movie travels to claim objectivity anymore, because if I'd seen this 20 years ago, I'd probably have agreed with everyone that it's utter Z-grade hogwash, good for a laugh about how ridiculously stupid movies can get. But here in 2016, I'd practically recommend it.

Unlike its irredeemably atrocious brethren in the "Howling" sequel chain, "The Marsupials" is a surprisingly quasi-ambitious and inventive affair, with lots of self-aware winks at the genre (in references to "An American Werewolf in London", "Psycho", "Alien", Rod Serling, and more), a story that constantly strays into broader territory than you expect from a werewolf slasher flick, and a respectable sense of humor. The makeup effects are a hoot, we get to see a scene from a schlocky movie-within-this-movie called "It Came from Uranus" (which despite the '50s sci-fi name incongruously features a guy transforming into a...killer werewolf. Is the werewolf from Uranus? Since when are they aliens? I want to believe this was an intentional joke, like everything in this world is about werewolves for some reason).

Make no mistake, there are traces of terribleness to this, in some of the acting and not very sophisticated Hollywood satire, but it lends the impression that fun was had while they made it, that it isn't just another insipid, self-serious, knock-off horror sequel the likes of which clog our cinematic annals. It's got its own identity and an accessible oddity that makes it by far the 2nd best title in the "Howling" family tree, after the original, naturally; I'm not kidding when I say that these other "Howling" sequels are some of the worst movies ever made.

*also, unlike any other werewolf movie I can remember, this one took the time to do a little extra credit research and connect its mythology to that of the Tasmanian wolf, a real-life extinct marsupial with nightmarishly enormous jaws. More evidence that the filmmakers didn't just phone this one in

*and also, it includes one of the funniest bad lines in history: "My stepfather tried to rape me, and he's a werewolf."

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