Friday, January 27, 2012

THE HOWLING REBORN aka Where'd You Put the Peepshow Booth, Eddie?

Before I watched the movie I’m about to review I want to let you know that I had heard some fairly damning opines of it. While there are plenty of folks whose opinions I hold in high regard that slammed dunked this film good and proper, I still find it important if not compulsive to watch everything I possibly can. You never know what nugget of originality or sprinkle of effects work might be worth telling ya’ll about. While there was no doubt in my mind that the negative opinions of said film could be accurate and most likely were spot on, I absolutely had to see this supposed can of dog food myself. And was it worth the watch? Yes.

The Howling Reborn was worth watching solely to trash it. Now I’m not exactly a fan of reviewing movies just to trash them and very often I find that action by others inappropriate. I do not find it inappropriate in this particular case. When you claim to give rebirth to a genre favorite after years of questionable, if not hilarious sequels and rumors of a new installment have left you longing for the days when you might find Eddie Quist standing behind you in an adult movie theater. Let me assure you with every ounce of my being that The Howling Reborn adds absolutely nothing to the werewolf mythology. It is, at best, a harsh attempt to steer tweens to Team Jacob rather than Team Edward and maybe play on the success of MTV’s “re-imagining” of the show Teen Wolf (which I would prefer to left Michael J. Fox, Jason Bateman and that bad ass 80’s cartoon that kept me wishing I was Scott Howard for at least three solid years of my life).

My Synopsis:

Kid figures out, the hard way, that he’s a werewolf after being attacked by a werewolf. Kid goes to high school, has girl troubles, eventually figures out that the pack is after him to make a decision between the furry and the not so furry, conflict between boy and girl, conflict between mother and son, um… metaphor for modern American family/teenager that I may have forgotten about and then somebody dies… you figure it out.

Synopsis from the Anchor Bay:

On the eve of his high school graduation, Will Kidman (Liboiron) finally looks up from his books to catch the eye of the girl he’s longed for the last four years –the mysterious Eliana Wynter (Shaw). He’s always been the shy kid, flying under the radar, but when he discovers a dark secret from his past— that he is heir to a powerful line of werewolves -- he finds he has a choice to make between succumbing to his primal nature, or turning against his own, and maintaining his humanity. In order to fight the destiny of his legacy, and save Eliana – as well as himself – he must battle not only his growing blood lust but an army of fearsome beasts bent on killing him, Eliana...and then, us all.

Save the CGI wolf out for Underworld...but was the Howling Reborn predominantly CGI? From a Howling picture I expect better practical effects and they better be executed well. If that’s not possible, I expect hilarious metamorphosis effects that leave me in stunning disbelief at what my franchise has become, but either way I want real effects. Sure the effects team that produced Howling Reborn’s effects is Oscar worthy, but this ain’t a video game. Strangely enough the director has been very clear that due to budgetary reasons the film used MOSTLY PRACTICAL EFFECTS. I am in stunned disbelief at how digitized the whole picture looks. In an interview he even made mention to films having a video game quality to them and he was trying to avoid that. I’m afraid he did not succeeds. That’s what I feel we got in this anti-installment of the Howling series. Somehow, Anchor Bay managed to take Twilight and ram into a console video game and forgot to give us access to the reset button. I guess this makes me just another CGI basher, right? No, there’s no CGI to bash! This is different. A series that was founded during a generation of practical effects that exceeded the special effects standards of the day and whose effects continue to be embraced by an adoring cult following must be held to a higher level of expectation. That does not mean the film in question needs to avoid CGI completely, but the team responsible better make damn sure that they’re at least on par with the original. The Thing prequel is a perfect example. Love it or hate it at least the effects team was tasked to make the film’s physical effects as near as impressive as the original and did so with both physical and computer generated effects. There’s not reason to skimp on the physical, and when the computer generated effects falls short of effects made in the 80’s, well… So why does the Howling Reborn look digitized? Only the post crew knows for sure.  Bronx cheers your way back to the Big Hollywood (even though I’d say that Anchor Bay really ain’t big, big Hollywood). 

If I’m putting this on the same level as Twilight then you know what I think of the acting. Melodramatic, teen romance level performances with an emo kick that might as well turn Tabasco sauce into Johnson’s Baby Oil.  I’m afraid there isn’t a Dee Wallace among the cast (and we sure do miss her cute, puppy dog wolf out). Somebody let me know when teen acting in films of this nature are actually worth the watch. I’d like to think that we have enough talented teens actors who can be inspired by directors to give performances that don’t make me feel like I’m in sixth grade. Or was that that point? After seeing the actors of Let the Right One In and even the American counterpart Let Me In, I’m holding younger actors to a higher standard in the horror industry. Be honest and less angsty please.

Did I collapse my soapbox yet? Which part of this review would you find unfair? The only thing that this film just might be able to do is bring a new audience to an old franchise, and then we would need to gently explain to them what a werewolf really is and how the pulsing and throbbing associated with the wolf metamorphosis are no truly sexual in nature no matter what metaphor they were told to look out for by their high school English teacher.  You know what the Howling Reborn really needed? Marsupials and maybe Christopher Lee in his only starring werewolf role. Also maybe Dick Smith… dead or alive we love him. I would also accept as a response, a better tag line. Try Stirba Werewolf Bitch on for size… even though there isn’t a character named Stirba in reborn at least it would lend the film some class.

-Dr. Terror


  1. so i must watch this soon...i was avoiding it due to bad reviews

  2. Its as bad as it sounds but I wanted to give it a fair shake. QUIST WOULD BE ROLLING IN HIS GRAVE!