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  Howling: New Moon Rising Meanwhile back at the bar
Year: 1995
Director: Clive Turner
Stars: John Ramsden, Ernest Kester, Clive Turner, Jack Huff, Elizabeth Shé, Jaqueline Armitage, Jim Lozano, Robert Morwell, Jim Brock, Cheryl Allen, Sally Harkham, Romy Windsor, Claude 'Pappy' Allen, Harriet Allen, Bonnie Largassa, Jack Holder
Genre: Horror, Western, Musical, Comedy, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  1 (from 1 vote)
Review: Hairy hippie biker Ted Smith (Clive Turner) rides into a midwestern town that is seemingly a rural retirement community. Most of the residents are in their fifties and sixties and spend their nights line-dancing (oh lord, no!) to bad country music at the redneck bar run by country singing couple 'Pappy' (Claude 'Pappy' Allen) and Harriet (Harriet Allen), where Ted gets a job as a waiter. The affable Australian befriends the local booze-hounds while romancing middle-aged, oddly-accented, line-dancing enthusiast Eveanne (Sally Harkham). But suspicion soon falls on the stranger when dead bodies turn up around town, mauled by a mysterious beast. Meanwhile, grimacing priest Father John (Jack Huff) lectures the elderly local Sheriff (John Ramsden) about a werewolf that might be Satan incarnate, whose origins stretch back to an incident in Hungary and could now be threatening their backwater town. But never mind that! Let's get back to Pappy's place for more hootin' and a-hollerin' at happy hour. Oh god, no, make it stop! Make it stop!

By 1995 the last thing anyone in the world needed was another Howling sequel. They got one anyway, courtesy of writer-director-editor-production manager Clive Turner. Having penned the earlier sequels Howling IV: The Original Nightmare (1988) and Howling V: The Rebirth (1989), Turner here stakes his claim as the Orson Welles of zero-budget country and western musical werewolf movies, though he allegedly elbowed out original co-director Roger Knoll for sole screen credit. One doubts Mr. Knoll complained too loudly given Howling: New Moon Rising (or Howling VII: Mystery Woman as it is known as part of the Howling DVD boxed set) is without doubt the absolute rock bottom worst entry in this already notoriously uneven series. Inept editing, amateurish performances, inane dialogue - it's all here folks! Alongside gratuitous line-dancing, godawful sing-alongs (and one says this as someone who likes country music) and recycled footage from those earlier, superior series entries to disguise the fact the werewolf does not appear until the last two minutes. For the record though, this marks the series' first instance of computer morphing technology used (badly) for the werewolf transformation. All this plus repeated cutaways to a fat gal playing the spoons. What more could you ask?

There is something almost endearing about a horror movie where all the characters are in their fifties and sixties. At times, rare times admittedly, one can sense the affection Turner clearly has for these affable oddballs with their beer-soaked bar talk, disastrous chilli cookouts and fireside sing-alongs about the joys of illegal substances (?!) Most of the cast were the real-life residents of Pioneer Town, a midwestern community co-founded by singing cowboy stars Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. They were amateurs in their only screen appearances and it shows. Whatever modest goodwill their goofy antics engender is soon squandered through the total lack of suspense, scares or even a story. Turner's attempt to tie the whole Howling series together, or pad out his own awful movie with recycled footage depending on how generous you're being, fall flat as Romy Windsor (now billed as Romy Walthall) returns as the novelist heroine of Original Nightmare (hey, didn't she die at the end of that? Oh, well she soon snuffs it here, too) and the plot resurrects Mary Lou (Elizabeth Shé) from part five and concocts a ridiculous reason for why she is now a different actress. Also Turner seems to be playing the same character he was in his last two movies, even though part four had him as a handyman and in part five he was a rock star called Ray.

Comedy abounds, both intentional and otherwise including Cybil the ridiculously absent-minded secretary and the Sheriff's repeatedly (bewilderingly) cutting off the priest in the middle of his crucial werewolf flashback because he's tired, bored or in need of beer. There really isn't anything positive to be said about Howling: New Moon Rising, save perhaps the inhabitants of Pioneer Town look like they're having a whale of a time. Shame about the viewers.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


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