Sixteen years after the last direct-to-video sequel to The Howling was dumped into video stores across the nation like a dirty diaper the series is getting a reboot with The Howling Reborn, coming to DVD and Blu-ray on October 18, 2011.
You can check out the plot synopsis, DVD cover art, and the film’s trailer at the end of this article.
The movie was written and directed by first-time feature filmmaker Joe Nimziki, the former head of advertising for MGM, whose only prior directorial credit was a 1997 episode of the Showtime revival of The Outer Limits. The cast includes Landon Liboiron (Degrassi: The Next Generation) and Lindsey Shaw (Pretty Little Liars), but the best known member of the Howling Reborn cast is Ivana Milicevic of Casino Royale and Running Scared fame.
The Howling franchise kicked off with the original film that was directed by Joe Dante (Gremlins) and loosely adapted from the 1977 Gary Brandner novel by independent filmmaker John Sayles (Lone Star). It featured groundbreaking transformation effects by Rob Bottin, who would later go on to work FX miracles on The Thing and Robocop, but Bottin’s efforts were overshadowed by the work being done by his mentor Rick Baker for John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London. Here’s an interesting factoid: Baker was originally asked to do the effects for The Howling, but his commitment to the Landis film preventing him from taking the assignment, so he suggested Bottin in his stead.
The Howling proved to be a tremendous success with critics and at the box office, but a sequel didn’t emerge until four years later when audiences were treated to the monumental train wreck that was Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf, which featured the imitable talents of Sybil Danning (Chained Heat) and her magnificent breasts, bad movie overlord Reb Brown (Yor, the Hunter from the Future and the Mystery Science Theater 3000 classic Space Mutiny), and Saruman himself, Christopher Lee (Brown’s co-star in one of the godawful Captain America TV movies from the late 1970’s). The director of Howling II, Philippe Mora, fared better when he took the series to his native Australia for Howling III: The Marsupials, which almost snagged a young Nicole Kidman as its female lead. Howling III was probably the last time any of the sequels received a theatrical release. From Howling IV: The Original Nightmare (said to be a more faithful adaptation of Brandner’s novel) on, the series has been an endless string of mercenary endeavors made to exist strictly in the netherworld of direct-to-video, a trend which doesn’t look to be reversed with The Howling Reborn.
I’ll be honest: judging from this trailer, this movie looks terrible. It’s a blatant attempt by Anchor Bay to use the Howling brand, which has never been exploited as cruelly as it is being here, to ride the coattails of the Twilight franchise and capitalize on the MTV series Teen Wolf. Put simply, this is a work of pure, unadulterated hackery and everyone involved should be ashamed of themselves. This movie doesn’t appear to have any of the unique traits that made the original Howling so special, but then again Joe Nimziki is no Joe Dante or John Sayles. At the very least they could have used some gratuitous nudity and spatter gore. Going by the trailer, that R rating is a pathetic joke. This movie wouldn’t be edgy enough for ABC Family.
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.