Clive Turner is back as co writer and producer of this instalment in the long-in-the-tooth (geddit?) Howling franchise, but this time he also stars as one of the main characters. In late 15th century Hungary a couple massacre the entire population of their castle, their family, servants, everyone, in a failed attempt to kill off a werewolf bloodline.
500 years later the castle is reopened and nine guests are ‘randomly’ invited by Count Istvan (Philip Davis) to attend the opening. It turns out that these guests are descended to the castle’s original inhabitants and that one of them is a werewolf. The count has lured them all here to find and kill the werewolf.
What follows is a variation on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, with everyone a suspect and the audience as much in the dark as the characters.
This same structure was done in a better werewolf film in 1974 as The Beast Must Die (complete with a bizarrely-awesome ‘Werewolf Break’ where the film pauses for 30 seconds and asks the audience who they think the werewolf is), but I actually enjoy this Howling V: The Rebirth quite a bit. I’ll admit it’s a guilty pleasure, but there are some fun characters (in all honesty, Clive Turner’s Australian ex-rock star is my favourite), the castle in which the film takes place is a nice location and there is some effective music by ‘The Factory’. It also kinda works as a whodunit, although since the character’s motivations are all-over-the-place you can’t really puzzle it out, just go with the flow.
This film is the first Howling sequel to step away from the ‘people interact with a society of werewolves(usually with fatal results)’ plots of the previous films and have a more traditional lone werewolf antagonist. They use the same poor monster suit from Howling IV, but it is used more cleverly here, with lighting and quick camera cuts keeping it mostly off-screen.
To my mind, Howling V: The Rebirth probably the best of the Howling sequels up to this point (note sequels, the original is still awesome), admittedly this isn’t saying much, although the sheer bug-nuts madness of Howling II probably makes it more compelling.