Bad Movies Done Right — Howling: New Moon Rising

Every day Robert Saucedo shines a spotlight on a movie either so bad it’s good or just downright terrible. Today: Country fried werewolves!

I would very much like to know what Clive Turner was thinking when he wrote, directed and starred in this sixth sequel to Joe Dante’s werewolf masterpiece, The Howling.

New Moon Rising is a very, very interesting film. It’s a completely terrible film — but interesting nonetheless. What makes the movie so darn interesting is its complete and utter lack of willingness to be a werewolf movie — despite the fact that it is the seventh film in a werewolf movie franchise. Owing more to a Robert Altman comedy then any type of monster flick, the movie seems to be more of an extremely leisurely-written love letter to the honky-tonk culture rather then any kind of sequel to the original Howling film.

At the same time, though, the film seeks to undertake the gargantuan task of building continuity between the four latter Howling sequels — creating a mythology that is as tediously explained as it is convoluted.

In New Moon Rising, a mysterious Australian (is there really any other kind of Australian?) named Ted (played by Turner) breezes into a quiet western town looking for work. Coincidentally, a rash of violent deaths begin occurring with all evidence pointing to some kind of super-wolf as the killer.

Trying to piece together the truth is the world’s laziest detective.

Seriously, the movie spends nearly forty minutes on exposition because the detective character constantly needs to take breaks as he does his investigation. He’ll stop an interviewee mid-story because he needs to visit the closest bar.

As I said above, though, the movie treats the werewolf mystery as more of a subplot then any real driving storyline. Instead of a special effects laden werewolf hullabaloo, the movie chooses to burn nearly ninety percent of the running time on slice-of-life observational scenes featuring the small town’s cast of motley citizens.

There are nearly a half-a-dozen country-western musical numbers, over ten minutes of solemn line dancing, almost half-an-hour of assorted montages featuring the wacky antics of the local bar’s patrons and only approximately thirty seconds of new werewolf footage.

In fact, most of the film’s special effects are taken from clips from the Howling series’ previous films. One is lead to believe that New Moon Rising‘s budget consisted of thirty dollars and a Slim Jim.

I am a huge fan of werewolf movies. More so, I am a huge fan of the Howling series. I’ve seen every single one of the seven movies in the franchise and own practically all of them. I’ve seen the films deal with marsupial werewolves, European soft-core porn, gothic murder mysteries and carnival sideshows. I’ve seen the best and worst that the Howling series has to offer. New Moon Rising is, by far, the worst.

An exercise in testing audiences’ patience, New Moon Rising manages to suck whatever joy could possibly be gleamed from a werewolf movie and instead force audiences to suffer through some of the worst attempts of barroom humor this side of Andy Cap.

I’m a fan of Quentin Tarantino movies. I can appreciate extensive dialog and a slow pace. New Moon Rising, with its unwillingness to show any actual werewolf carnage until forty-five seconds before the film ends, can only be enjoyed by those on extensive horse tranquilizers.

Seriously, Clive Turner, what were you thinking? I really, really, really want to know.

Robert Saucedo’s soft spot for werewolf movies still has a limit. Follow him on Twitter @robsaucedo2500.

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