When the budget is too low to go big, and you don’t have the talent to be clever about it, you have to go camp, and this goes so camp it’s untrue. Directed by Phillipe Mora, also responsible for Howling II, The Marsupials: The Howling III takes the Werwolf series to Australia for this truly terrible outing that is the lowest ebb for the series until the disaster that is The Howling: Reborn.
In general, when reviewing I like to gloss over the plot for fear of spoiling it for viewers, but I really think this requires some explaining, so bear with me.
The film opens the CIA intercepting a KGB transmission about a werewolf in Siberia. Not wanting the know less than the Soviets, the CIA tasks Professor Harry Beckmeyer (Barry Otto) to talk the President into some sort of investigation. Beckmeyer is introduced while lecturing using old film footage taken by his grandfather before his disappearance, of some Australian aborigines (looking more like Sideshow Bob that I’d prefer but for all I know it’s authentic dress. (I seriously doubt it!) killing a tied up werewolf woman. He notes that they do not know how the tribesmen made such a realistic werewolf mask (I was going to insert a snide comment here, but the mask is pretty good… by 1905 standards. Zing!). So the good professor talks to the President and convinces him that if they can’t investigate werewolves in Siberia, they can follow in grandpa Beckmeyer’s footsteps and investigate Aussie werewolves.
Next we meet Jerboa (Imogen Annesley) living with her family in the outback (you can tell it’s the outback by the didgeridoo playing constantly) town of ‘Flow’ (no too subtle these werewolves), but when her stepfather Thylo (Max Fairchild) gets too err… affectionate, she flees. Cue a scene on a bus with the amazingly badly-acted priest (seriously, possibly the worst acting ever) telling her “You should not run away from home” to which she replies “I don’t like home”, “Why child?” “Because my stepfather tried to rape me and he’s a werewolf”. Sounds like a good enough reason to leave home to me.
So, barefoot and sleeping on a park bench in Sydney she attracts the eye of Donny Martin (Leigh Biolos), assistant director on schlocky horror film “Shape Shifter, part 8” who promptly hires her and takes her straight to the set. This prompts the best line in the film and possibly the film’s excuse for itself when the hammy director states “In the 60’s Andy Warhol showed us how pop could be high art, in fact everything is high art, that’s what this is all about. For example, in your first scene you will be gang-raped by four monsters.” However, I’m not sure that stating thatr really does make this film high art, but then again, maybe I’m too lowbrow.
So, while Jerboa makes her acting debut her three werewolf sisters head to Sydney while inexplicably dressed as nuns to recapture her. Quickly Donny and Jerboah get together and in the post-coital cuddle he doesn’t seem to worried about the fact she has a pouch. A hairy pouch! Like a kangaroo! And he just notes this and rolls over to fall asleep! At the film’s wrap-party Jerboa has an adverse reaction to all the bright lights and begins turning into a werewolf. She flees and is hit by a car and rushed to hospital. At the hospital they find her abnormal physiology (y’know, pouch and all) and call the government (it appears that the Australian and US government are pretty interchangeable in this film) and Beckmeyer in.
The werewolf nuns storm the hospital (off camera, of course, killer werewolf nuns mauling the staff of an operating room is either too expensive or too interesting for this film), killing people and abducting Jerboa.
Beckmeyer is so desperate to find her that he goes to watch an ex-Soviet ballerina, Olga Gorki (Dasha Blahova) rehearse her show. The lights and situation gets to her and she transforms into a (ropey-looking) werewolf on stage (I guess that since we have established that there are werewolves in Russia and she is the only Russian in the film it’s obvious that she’d be a werewolf, are ALL Russians werewolves?). She is taken to a hospital or government lab of some sort for testing and promptly transforms again, (including a bizarre six-nipples shot) kills a doctor before escaping.
Without further werewolves to study, Beckmeyer and the military head to Jerboa’s home-town, where she (in a frankly bonkers scene) is giving birth to a tiny animal thing that crawls into her pouch. Meanwhile Olga hooks up with Thylo and Donny makes it to Flow to be introduced to his wolf-baby in his girlfriend’s pouch. His reaction? “He’s beautiful” Wow! Donny is the calmest person alive. What does it take to actually freak this guy out?
This is only the first half of the film! By the end of it, a government special forces “Omega Team” battle a giant spirit-possessed werewolf, the Pope comes out in favour of werewolves and in a nod to the ending of the original Howling, Dame Edna Everage (Barry Humphries) is menaced by a werewolf on live TV.
That’s a lot of film. All of it bad.
Reading this drivel back it sounds like it might be a so-bad-it’s-good sort of film, but it really isn’t. It never tries to be scary, but isn’t actually funny, and you don’t care about the badly written and acted characters so there isn’t really any drama. Maybe there’s some fun in inventing a drinking game around it?