Okay here's a great premise -- what would The Howling have been like if it was made by somebody without the talent or good sense of Joe Dante? Well, thanks to the fourth of the dire sequels, now we know. It would have sucked.
There are two good things I can say about this movie. First, it serves as a lesson about how not to adapt a book to the screen. Second, it shows how much of a great film The Howling is, simply by comparison. As it's another version of the same novel, you already pretty much know the plot ... a disturbed woman goes to a retreat of some kind in order to set her mind straight, and decides to investigate a mysterious howling in the woods. The only positive thing I'll say about the adaptation is that it retains the strong religious element from the book, which was neglected in the Joe Dante version. This movie is apparently a lot closer to Gary Brandner's novel, but it lacks any of the flavour, metaphor or subtext.
First off, you don't care about the characters. Secondly, it just isn't scary. Director John Hough may manage to stay faithful to the book like some kind of a literary parrot, but apparently he hasn't heard of those things we call mood or pace or style ... in no way does this feel like a horror movie (it features the most un-frightening ghosts I've ever seen in a film). It's not even a particularly well-made film, and I noticed several errors in continuity. The acting isn't great, as all of the cast seem to belong on a soap opera, but by no means is that the worst thing about the movie. Also, for some odd reason all the dialogue is dubbed. Badly. And there's no excuse for it ... it just distracts you from the rest of the scene (or perhaps that was the intention). The special effects are actually very good, but unfortunately you don't see any of them until the last ten minutes of the movie when they're all thrown together in a hectic mish-mash.
Why do we need this movie? It sure beats me. There's absolutely no reason to watch it, unless you're curious about the original novel but can't be bothered to read it. Joe Dante's The Howling is superior in every single way.
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