Howling VI : The Freaks (1991)

Director: Hope Perello
Starring: Michelle Matteson, Bruce Payne, Carol Lynley, Deep Roy, Brendan Hughes, Antonio Fargas . USA . 1h 42m

(Loosely) based on The Howling Series of novels by Gary Brandner especially Howling III Echoes.

Have you ever woken up from a hazy dream and tried to piece it back together to make a story..that’s kinda how this installment of Howling plays out. Loosely based on the third Howling book, it’s set around the life of a unusual drifter who stumbles on the wrong town. Despite his natural ability to look like Charlie Chaplin he actually has a much more dangerous and darker secret, being part of the Howling series it’s no surprise really but there’s more, just follow him down the rabbit hole…

It’s time to Howl again…

Opening with the brutal murder of a little girl, an unknown creature obliterates her leaving just her tiny teddy. Later you see a man walking the tracks to a remote town, carrying the teddy, her brother Ian () he finds himself in a small worn out town called Canton Bluff where he finds manual work fixing a church, he’s taken in by the owner Dewey and befriends his daughter Elizabeth (Matheson).

Before he can really settle into work, the circus comes to town, not like many other troups this is a collection of sideshow freaks headed by Mr R B Harker (Payne) the town all agree to go and visit the group featuring the Alligator boy, a midget car player with a third arm and other unique individuals. Ian takes his new sweetheart to the show and wins her a small teddy, much like the one his sister had on the night was eaten.

Pretty soon Harker makes Ian an offer for him to join the group as he knows about his secret and why he’s counting down the nights until the full moon. Soon Harkers invituation becomes a demand and he reveals a dark secret about himself.

I know I’m in the minority when I express my love of this and all the Howling sequels, they are all so cheesy as fuck and poorly produced but they each have their retro charms in a world where no one knows anything about werewolves.  This particular film is amazing for Paynes dual performance and the dreamy hazy atmosphere that it retains throughout.

It could have been a serious contender for a truly maniacal creepy thriller, a werewolf movie surrounded by freaks of nature, would be like The Freaks (192?) Vs Howing (1981) and the possibilities are endless.

There are some shocking scenes within the circus, a poor chicken gets it’s head bitten off but it’s all for schits and giggles, but there’s a strong overtone of beast vs beast and despite being a werewolf, our boy Ian had a good heart and means the best, unlike some of the other critters he meets, possibly a suggestion that there is always hope even for the damned.

Rating: 6/10


R: Howling (1981), Howling V: The Rebirth (1989), Bad Moon (),

5s: Bruce Payne



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