Director: John Hough
Starring: Romy Windsor, Michael T. Weiss, Anthony Hamilton, Susanne Severeid, Lamya Derval
A terrifying journey into the gaping jaws of death
Here we are again in wolfland with the fourth installment of the Howling saga. This one is supposedly the film that is closest to the books by Gary Brandner.
Marie (Romy Windsor) is a young author who struggled with anxiety and bad nightmares. Her boyfriend Richard (Michael T. Weiss) plans a relaxing vacation out in a small town called Drakho so that she can get back on her feet. However, out in the open landscape her nightmares seems to increase and she is haunted by howlings in the night and ghosts from the past.
Howling 4 is a direct-to-video horror movie made by the experienced horror director John Hough (Twins of Evil, Watcher in the Woods and American Gothic). His experience in this field combined with the fact that it’s based on a book would make you expect a coherent story and well… make sense. Maybe he would even be able to produce some good acting by Windsor (did some TV work before this and is still acting today, also showed up in Howling 7) and Weiss (mostly known from the tv show The Pretender) who gets the most screen time.
But no… the strength of this movie doesn’t lie in the acting or story. The only good part about this is the special effects by the great Steve Johnson’s XFX team. The budget of the movie was 2,000,000 dollars according to Wikipedia and I’m sure most of it ended up being used for the effects.
Most of the movie is spent with dialogue and uninteresting subplots which I’m sure worked better in the book. The actors do a terrible job in this. Windsor has the same empty look throughout the movie which makes it hard to care for her character. Weiss is equally bad with his cardboard acting aswell. Since it’s based on the same book as the first Howling movie this one of course resembles the original a lot and ends up being a poorer version.
The werewolves look great and has some 80’s fun to them, but they first show up in the last 15 minutes and by that time you will already be tired of the film. By 1988 there had been so many transformation scenes from human to werewolves so it’s hard to come up with something new and unseen, but here they actually made one of the characters melt into a werewolves! Now that’s new (and gory)! It’s a shame that this neat scene wasn’t used in a better film.
Fun fact: This movie got awarded Golden Chainsaw award in 1988 for Best Direct-to-Video feature by Fangoria! I guess that says more about the quality on direct to video horror of 1988, cause Howling 4 is not worth seeing unless you for some reason have decided on a Howling marathon.