|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.
In this movie 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 for further development.
Harry Beckmeyer (Barry Otto), 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 a man 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 lycanthropy afoot in the world. The President (Michael Pate) is dismissive. Meanwhile, a young Australian werewolf named Jerboa Jerboa (Imogen Annesley) runs away from the rest of her pack into the city to avoid her step-father Thylo (Max Fairchild) and his physical and sexual abuse which her family condones.
She ends up spending the night on a park bench in Sydney, near the Opera House and in the morning is spotted by an American man named Donny Martin (Leigh Biolos). The young man is infatuated with her instantly and attempts to approach her. Jerboa runs away frightened and he chases her through the park before finally catching up and telling her that due to her beautiful and naturally wild looks, 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) the director of the film hires her immediately due to her natural talent. Jerboa and Donny quickly fall in love and Donny takes Jerboa to see a movie (a fake werewolf film entitled: "It came from Uranus") something she has never seen before in which a "werewolf" transforms and Jerboa tells Donny that the transformation "doesn't happen like that" which leaves Donny puzzled. Later after making love Donny curious as to why Jerboa refused to take off her top while they were together, notices that Jerboa's lower abdomen is covered in downy white fur and what appears to be a long scar. He does not question her, though the audience can see that a full moon has risen outside.
Later while at the wrap party for the movie Jerboa is exposed to strobe lights the flashing lights cause her to start changing into a werewolf and she flees the party with Donny in short pursuit. Due to the stress of the changing, she runs into traffic and (though not shown on screen) is hit by a car. The doctors at the hospital realize that there is something very strange about Jerboa; she has striped fur on her back (like on the Thylacine), and a pouch. They also deduce that due to her high amount of hormones, Jerboa is pregnant from Donny.
Meanwhile Backmeyer's father has 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 in the city, track her down and murder anyone in the way, to take her back to Flow, their pack's hidden town (Flow being Wolf spelled backwards) Deprived of a werewolf, Backmeyer and his colleague Proffesor Sharp (Ralph Cotterill) spend the evening watching a visiting ballet troupe practice. However, they get to see the prima ballerina, russian Olga Gorki (Dasha Blahova) transform into a werewolf to the horror of her troupe. She is captured and researched but quickly runs away, somehow making her way to Flow where the pack have been chanting to call her, to be Thylo's mate (since Jerboa is pregnant)
Meanwhile Jerboa gives birth to a baby werewolf. She helps it crawl up her abdomen by using her spit to wet down her fur to make a pathway for it to reach her pouch. Donny informs Beckmeyer that his girlfriend was from Flow and he goes along with him to find her. Instead, Jerboa smells Donny nearby and goes to him at night, presenting their baby boy and informs him of the impending danger and the family flee into the hills.
The next morning a government task force captures the werewolf pack, but not before having several soldiers killed. Beckmeyer enlists the help of Olga who he is attracted to, to allow her and Thylo to be researched. After many surveys and investigations (including an incident where Thylo was tortured with strobe lights to make him transform) Backmeyer starts to fret over the injustice done to the werewolves, including the U.S. Army hunting them in 1889, and so he frees Olga and Thylo. The trio escape into the Outback and eventually find Kendi (Burnham Burnham), Donny, Jerboa, and the baby. They are pursued by hunters but Kendi calls on to the spirit of their legendary phantom wolf and massacres them to ensure the safety of the family. He is cremated in a makeshift ceremony but the smoke alerts some soldiers who are still pursuing them. They are attacked by Kendi's skeleton who manages to hurt and scare them before being destroyed by one of the soldier's machine guns. At night Thylo also calls unto the spirit and is transformed into a huge wolf who attacks the remaining soldiers before being killed by a bazooka blast that destroys the rest of the encampment.
At last, no longer being pursued by soldiers Olga and Backmeyer fall in love and together with Jerboa and Donny, hide and make a homestead at an idyllic riverside camp, avoiding human contact and raising their kids in peace. After some time Jerboa and Donny eventually move out, with the intentions of assuming different identities and the Beckmeyers remain behind raising their daughter and newborn son. Eventually Harry is tracked down by Sharp and informed that all lycanthropes have been given papal amnesty due to the crimes committed against their kind and the Backmeyers move back to the city. While teaching a class in Los Angeles and showing the reel seen at the beginning of the movie Beckmeyer pauses to tell his class about Jerboa and how though he and Olga searched for her and Donny they never found them. At the end of the class he is approached by a young man who Breckmeyer notes looks familiar but cannot recognize. The young man introduces himself as Zack. He is Jerboa and Donny's son. He informs Backmeyer that him and his parents are now living in Los Angeles and his mother is now the famous actress "Loretta Carson" and his father is now the famous director "Sully Spellingberg".
That night Olga and Backmeyer are watching a television award show in which Jerboa has won the best actress award. Her sisters are seen living in a cave in their half transformed states celebrating her win. As Jerboa accepts her award and tries to give her speech the flashing cameras and stage lights cause her to start changing into a werewolf. This also prompts Olga to start her change much to her husband's dismay. Jerboa goes on the attack as her sisters howl in glee and Sharp is seen in his living room smiling deviously.
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