In 1981 Joe Dante directed a New Age lycanthropic movie called The Howling, based on the 1977 horror novel of the same name, written by Gary Brandner. Up until this point in cinematic history, a rather outdated version of the Wolfman was still in circulation. The Howling, An American Werewolf in London, and Wolfen were all released in the same year, refreshing the palette of horror fans and movie-goers alike with an updated vision of this mythical creature. The effects in the 1980s allowed artists to create a convincing (for the time) transformation sequence without obstructing the view of the audience or panning the camera away. The success of the original The Howling spawned six additional sequels, each sharing no similarities. Dante gracefully bowed out after the completion of the first movie and Clive Turner, a man responsible for filling the role of producer in The Howling IV: The Original Nightmare and The Howling V: Rebirth, made his directorial debut with the latest and last in the series - Howling VII: New Moon.
Whether it is known as fact or fiction, the production team recruited the local townsfolk into the role of "the locals." I'm not sure what the intention of this was...perhaps it was easier to obtain people at the location you are shooting at rather than shelling out additional money for trained actors from an almost nonexistent budget. In terms of budget, it clearly shows - the overall production value reminds me of watching a 2 am horror special in the late 80s. The dialog is awkward and unnatural to say the least. Clive Turner must have fancied himself a Renaissance man because not only did he direct, produce, and write the Howling VII, he played the lead character role. It's safe to say he can't act his way out of a cowboy hat.
The soundtrack is anything but epic. The majority of the music is country/western...which I suppose is understandable given the environment. I just can't help but feel that Turner grew up in the area where he decided to shoot the film. It's obvious he's accustomed to the bar scene in a small town like this and even enjoys the local talent. While that might work for other directors, his main focus was to showcase band performances and gratuitous line dancing. This seemed more important to him than werewolves. After an hour into the film, the portrayal of the beast is done very similar to the movie Wolfen - the audience is forced to look through the eyes of the beast while it slaughters the unsuspecting townsmen. This is not an original technique but one that is poorly executed in this sense. Other ridiculous plot elements exist like the re-telling of past events that occurred in the previous installments of the Howling. I just consider this shameless filler and a pathetic way of making these devices viable.
It's amazing that this movie was released in 1995 and looks much more dated than it is. I didn't make the realization that a seventh Howling movie existed until recently...and I consider myself a huge fan of the horror genre. I wish I could admit that this is a step up from The Howling III: The Marsupials - easily the most pitiful attempt at film-making EVER...but sadly, it teeters slowly on the edge of that atrocious stain. I can say that both films have something in common: they were almost impossible to sit through. You need a will made of iron in order to sit through films like these. So,in conclusion? Clive Turner needs to be snatched up by his britches, tied to the back of a wagon, and dragged one hundred yards down a cobblestone path. Then, on the verge of unconsciousness, tied to a rack with his head fixed firmly in place while subjected to watching The Howling VII: New Moon on a continuous loop - maybe then he will come to the realization that he should stay out of show business.