|Howling III: The Marsupials|
Elite Entertainment DVD Artwork
|Directed by||Philippe Mora|
|Produced by||Philippe Mora
Steven A. Lane
|Written by||Gary Brandner
|Based on||The Howling III: Echoes
by Gary Brandner
|Music by||Allan Zavod|
|Edited by||Lee Smith|
|Distributed by||Screen Media Films|
|Budget||$2 million or $1 million|
Howling III (also known as Howling III: The Marsupials and Marsupials: The Howling III) is a 1987 Australian horror sequel to The Howling, directed by Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf director Philippe Mora and filmed on location in and outside Sydney, Australia. The film has several subplots including scientists experimenting on werewolves, a young werewolf woman Jerboa searching for a better life, and soldiers hunting them.
Although Gary Brandner approved the director's purchase of the right to the name The Howling and the screen credits claim that it is based on Brander's The Howling III, the film is unrelated to Gary Brandner's novel The Howling III: Echoes, which is set in the U.S.A. and has an entirely different plot. The movie does have slight similarities in terms of plot and sympathetic view of the werewolf. This aspect would be revisited in Howling VI: The Freaks.
The Australian werewolves have evolved separate from the rest of the werewolf population. They are marsupials - the female werewolves give birth to partly developed young which then makes its way to a pouch.
Backmeyer, an Australian anthropologist, has somehow obtained footage filmed in 1905 which appears to depict Australian Aborigines ceremonially sacrificing a wolf-like creature. We also see a scene of a werewolf killing in Russia. Reports of this reach Beckmeyer and he seeks an audience with the US President to try and convince him that there is a widespread case of werewolfery afoot in the world. The President (Michael Pate) is dismissive. Meanwhile, a young Australian woman who is a werewolf named Jerboa Jerboa (Imogen Annesley) runs away from the rest of her clan in a small country town to avoid her step-father's sexual abuse. The name of Annesley's character is taken from that of the Australian desert rodent jerboa.
She winds up sleeping on a park bench in Sydney, near the Opera House, where she is spotted by an American man named Donny (Lee Biolos). The young man is infatuated with her instantly. He chases the frightened girl through the park before finally catching up and telling her that she would be perfect for the female lead in a horror film he is helping to make, Shape Shifters Part VIII. While filming in Sydney's Hyde Park - Jack Citron (Frank Thring) is the director of the film being shot around the Archibald Fountain - Jerboa and Donny fall in love and go to bed together. While they are in bed, and we hear the track "Bad Moon Rising" in its cover version by Australian band The Reels, Donny sees that Jerboa's lower abdomen is covered in downy white fur and what appears to be a long scar.
While at the wrap party for Shapeshifters, Jerboa is exposed to strobe lights; the flashing lights cause her to start changing into her werewolf form. She flees the party, running along George Street but Donny is in hot pursuit. Unfortunately, she runs into traffic and, though not shown on screen, seems to be have been hit by a car. The doctors at the hospital realize that there is something very strange about their patient's physiology. She has striped fur on her back (like on the Thylacine), and a pouch. In a cameo in the hospital scene is long-serving Australian film critic Bill Collins as a doctor.
Meanwhile Beckmeyer's father disappeared in the Outback shortly after recording a film of tribal villagers apparently killing a werewolf. This is shown on a silent black and white film. His investigation is short lived, because three of Jerboa's sisters (disguised as nuns) show up and take her back to Flow ('wolf' spelled backwards) after killing several people. Deprived of a werewolf, Beckmeyer and Sharp spend the evening watching a visiting ballet troupe practice. However, they get to see Olga suddenly transform into a werewolf. The Professor learns of a connection with Serbian werewolves and elicits the help of defector Russian ballerina Olga; and soon falls in love with her, while trying to help her escape a gang of angry hunters keen to eradicate the rabid marsupials.
Jerboa meanwhile gives birth to a baby werewolf that she assists to crawl up her abdomen by using her spit to wet down her abdomen fur to make a pathway for it to reach her pouch. Meanwhile, Donny finds out that his girlfriend was from Flow and goes to find her. Instead, Jerboa smells Donny nearby and goes to him. They flee into the hills.
A government task force captures the werewolf clan, but not before having several soldiers killed. Beckmeyer frets over the injustice done to the werewolves (including the U.S. Army hunting them in 1889), before freeing Olga and Thylo. The trio escape into the Outback and eventually finds Donny, Jerboa, and the baby. They are pursued, but Thylo and another werewolf massacre the hunters at the expense of their own hides.
Together with Jerboa and Donny, he and Olga stay hidden at an idyllic riverside camp, avoiding human contact, raising their kids. Olga falls in love with Beckmeyer. The family establishes a homestead and lives in peace for a time. At long last, the younger two grow weary of the sylvan life and they leave, intending to return to the city and establish new identities. Jerboa and Donny eventually move out, but the Beckmeyers remain - until years later they all end up in Hollywood ...
The final scene features Olga and Beckmeyer watching an awards show on television. It is revealed Jerboa has changed her name to Loretta Kaas and that ironically she has won the best actress award. When she comes to the stage to accept it, however, the flashing cameras and stage lights cause her to change into a werewolf. This causes a chain reaction causing Olga to turn into a werewolf, and presumably all the other werewolves watching have undergone a transformation as well. The final shot shows a picture of a thylacine, or Tasmanian tiger, a marsupial carnivore which was hunted to extinction by Australian farmers to protect their sheep. It was the inspiration for the film.
Production and release
This film is considered a stand-alone film in the Howling series. Despite director Philippe Mora also directing Howling II: Stirba - Werewolf Bitch, this film features no references or characters from the previous two films. The werewolves in this film are also portrayed more sympathetically. However, this sequel could also be said to be the most faithful to Joe Dante's original The Howling, as it features a similar tongue-in-cheek sense of humour and references to previous werewolf media and its ending could be seen as a parody of the earlier film's.
Although Howling II had been successful, Mora had been unhappy with the story and the fact the producers added some extra shots after he left, such as additional shots of breasts. Mora wanted to make a third movie himself to make amends and raised the money himself with co-producer Charles Waterstreet.
The film was first released on DVD by Elite Entertainment in 2001. The DVD contained a widescreen print of the film, trailers, and an audio commentary by the director. The DVD has since been discontinued. In 2007, Timeless Media Group released another DVD of the film and a Blu-ray release. Both contained no bonus material and a pan and scan version of the film.
The film was very successful on video rental and cable TV movie channels in the United States and Latin America in the 1980s and early 1990s.
In popular culture
- The main characters in Death In Brunswick watch Howling III.
- The film is spoofed in a 1991 episode of The Simpsons where Space Mutants V has the Space Mutants having marsupial variants with pouches.
- Nicole Kidman was originally slated to play the role of Jerboa.
- Meadow Soprano watches the film on TV in The Sopranos season 1 finale "I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano".
- "Australian Productions Top $175 million", Cinema Papers, March 1986 p64
- Philippe Mora, 'Werewolves du jour: Philippe Mora on the making and selling of Australian myth', ACMI, June 2008 accessed 28 September 2012
- Ed. Scott Murray, Australia on the Small Screen 1970-1995, Oxford Uni Press, 1996 p106
- Nick Roddick, "Mora way of life", Cinema Papers, January 1987 p9