STUDIO: Artisan Home Entertainment
MSRP: $14.98
RUNNING TIME: 99 Minutes/102 Minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: Glorious scene selections

The Pitch

Sequels to The Howling couldn’t possibly get much worse after My Sister is a Werewolf and The Marsupials. Let’s give this franchise another try!

The Humans

A bunch of no-name actors who presumably never went on to act again, except for the almighty Bruce Payne.

So…the one on the left is the werewolf?

The Nutshell

In Howling V: The Rebirth, a group of strangers gets invited to a secluded castle that hasn’t been open since a mass suicide took place a century ago. What all these people have in common is an odd birthmark on their arms, which means they all have the same cursed lineage of the ancient peoples who committed suicide in the castle. It also means that one of them is secretly a werewolf.

They were arranged to all meet at the castle to draw the werewolf out so that it can be killed. Now the strangers must run around like morons through the castle’s corridors and get picked off one by one by the werewolf. Can they figure out the true identity of the werewolf in time to stop it? Does anyone care?

Howling VI: The Freaks would have done better to leave that subtitle behind. All that does is make you think of all the superior freak films like Freaks and Freaked while you’re watching this garbage. Hell, the prospect of watching The Funhouse will probably start sounding like a good idea in comparison by the thirty minute mark of this turgid crap.

Sweater Brigade smirks into action.

Bruce Payne and his traveling band of freaks descend onto a small town in the Midwest. They wow the denizens of this podunk town with such amazing acts as alligator boy and a midget. Carnivale it isn’t. In a stunning coincidence, a drifter has also just arrived in town and is hiding a terrible secret. Keeping in mind that this is a Howling movie, can you guess what his terrible secret is? If you have a single functioning brain cell left in your head, you know it already, which makes it all the more fun when the movie waits forty minutes to deliver the werewolf action.

The Lowdown

Most successful horror films at least make it past two or three sequels before descending directly into direct-to-video purgatory. The Howling was not so fortunate. The first film was far from good and is more well-known for its impressive transformation sequences than anything else. There weren’t any dangling plot threads or elements of the film worth following up on, which sort of explains how crazy the sequels are. The people behind the sequels seemed to be grasping at straws to come up with new concepts and cash-in on The Howling’s success. It’s more than likely that any script even tangentially related to werewolves at the time was instantly snatched up and turned into a Howling film.

I demand you return to life and tell me how you managed to get out of this film.

The two Howling sequels included on this disc have absolutely no relation to the films preceding them, nor each other. Both are mediocre examples of typical direct-to-video horror fare from the heyday of VHS without the important element of fun that existed in many of them. At least in generic slasher films there was the potential for inventive deaths, copious amounts of bare breasts and lots of gore. None of that is present in these films because they blew their entire budget on the sub-par werewolf transformation effects.

Howling V is the more painful of the two films to sit through as terrible actors parade through fancy castle sets complete with secret passages and cheap suits of armor. It makes one long for the Castle Freak to show up and take a bite out of all their crotches. Howling VI is a bit more tolerable, if only for the delightfully hammy performance of Bruce Payne as the leader of the freak troupe. The end of the film boasts a werewolf vs. vampire showdown that’s completely laughable but still less embarrassing than the same battle from Van Helsing. Too bad this is a werewolf centric franchise since a series of movies based around Bruce Payne as a smarmy vampire would be leagues better than this crap.

So it’s a vampiric California Raisin?

The Package

Zip. Zilch. Nada. No special features to be found for either of the fine feature films included on this disc. In addition, both are presented in full screen. If this is indeed not the original aspect ratio of the films, then we should all be thankful for the fact that the edges of the film were hacked off. This prevents you from being exposed to the full range of crap the director intended you to see. Thank goodness for small favors.

The fact that two films are included on one disc doesn’t make this a good value for the savvy shoppers out there. Packaging two pieces of crap together just makes it easier to avoid both at the same time. Giving a copy of this DVD to a friend is akin to injecting them with a drug cocktail that gives them both HIV and herpes simplex virus. It’s like telling them that not only do you hate them, but you wish death and disease upon their entire family line. Be a nice person and just steer clear of any horror sequels above the number four just to play it safe.

Howling V: 2.0 out of 10
Howling VI: 3.5 out of 10