Well. There’s no one to blame for that but myself. I don’t mean to say that I’m responsible for HOWLING III: THE MARSUPIALS (1987). I don’t think I could live with that on my conscience. The third in a series of works “based” on Gary Brandner’s novels–but at this point the horses have loosed themselves from that cart and run off into parts unknown–this washed-out sequel finds Phillipe Mora returning to the director’s chair after helming the equally notorious predecessor HOWLING II: YOUR SISTER IS A WEREWOLF (1987). Though the ominous-by-comparison subtitle seems to promise a more somber approach, this film, which was also scripted by Mora, is clearly lolling its canine tongue in its cheek from the word “Oy.” The picture seems to be intent on outmatching its own stupidity at every turn, picking up one bit of whackiness only to discard it almost immediately with the wandering attention of a child with too many toys. It’s not enough to have a pack of lycanthropic nuns hunting down our troubled heroine… we need to have the charred, skeletal remains of a shapeshifter return from crispy death to nibble on a victim and a commando blow himself up when he decides the best weapon to fend off the giant wolf nipping at his boots is a bazooka. There’s an attempt to channel Joe Dante’s original with the nighttime cityscape shots and a similar transformation-on-live-TV denoument–Mora can only wish–but his film can’t even manage to be THE BEAST WITHIN (1982). There are some mildly interesting ideas and at least one decent performance buried deep, deep in HOWLING III and I’m not totally blind to some of its deliberate goofiness (a ballerina’s transition to wolf-woman in between spins during a recital is pretty priceless), but even if you don’t consider yourself a snob there’s no hiding the fact that this one just stinks like kangaroo shit.

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