The Howling (franchise)

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The Howling
The howling.jpg
Most recent cover of The Howling novel[1] that originated the franchise.
Created byGary Brandner
Original workThe Howling book series by Gary Brandner
Print publications
  • The Howling: Revenge of the Werewolf Queen
Films and television

The Howling is a werewolf-themed horror series that includes three novels and eight films. The series began with the 1977 horror novel The Howling by Gary Brandner, which was in 1981 adapted into the film of the same name, directed by Joe Dante.


The novels were authored by American horror writer Gary Phil Brandner (1930–2013). The first book in the series was loosely adapted as a motion picture in 1981. Brandner's second and third Howling novels, published in 1979 and 1985 respectively, have no connection to the film series, though he was involved in writing the screenplay for the second Howling film, Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf. He died of esophageal cancer in 2013.

The Howling[edit]

The Howling was first published in 1977, and republished in 1986 by Fawcett Publications.

After a violent act, Karyn Beatty and her husband, Roy, go to the peaceful California village of Drago to escape the savagery of the city, but, their lives together slowly become more separate. The novel was loosely adapted as a motion picture in 1981, and the closest adaptation is the fourth film in the Howling series, Howling IV: The Original Nightmare, though this film too varies to some degree.

The Howling II[edit]

The Howling II was first published in 1979, and later republished by Fawcett Publications in 1982 under the alternative titles The Howling II: The Return, and Return of the Howling.

The novel addresses the impact of events in the first novel, and how life has changed for Karyn Beatty and Chris Halloran within the last three years. Furthermore, the reader soon finds out that Roy and Marcia have survived the destruction of Drago, and are now thirsty for vengeance.

The Howling III: Echoes[edit]

The Howling III, also known as The Howling III: Echoes, was published by Fawcett Publications in 1985.

In his last installment of the trilogy, Brandner gives readers new characters, a stand-alone plot, and a heavily re-imagined mythology which alters the times and events established in the first two books. The Howling III: Echoes is about a sympathetic, teenage werewolf named Malcolm who is being recruited by the evil werewolf, Derak, who wants him to learn his true heritage: blood.


The Howling film series includes eight films.

Film U.S release date Director Producer(s) Screenwriter(s)
The Howling 1981 Joe Dante Michael Finnell, Jack Conrad John Sayles, Terence H. Winkless
Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf 1985 Philippe Mora Steven A. Lane Robert Sarno
Howling III: The Marsupials 1987 Philippe Mora Philippe Mora, Charles Waterstreet Philippe Mora
Howling IV: The Original Nightmare 1988 John Hough Harry Alan Towers, Clive Turner Freddie Rowe, Clive Turner
Howling V: The Rebirth 1989 Neal Sundstrom Freddie Rowe, Clive Turner Clive Turner
Howling VI: The Freaks 1991 Hope Perello Robert Pringle Kevin Rock
The Howling: New Moon Rising 1995 Clive Turner Kent Adamson, Clive Turner Clive Turner
The Howling: Reborn 2011 Joe Nimziki Kevin Kasha, Joel Kastelberg, Ernst Etchie Stroh Joe Nimziki, James Robert Johnston

The Howling[edit]

The first Howling film, directed by Joe Dante, stars Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, Dennis Dugan, and Robert Picardo. The film is based on the first book in the trilogy; however, the plot is only vaguely similar. The Howling contains subtle humor that is not present in the novel.

Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf[edit]

The second Howling film, directed by Philippe Mora, stars Christopher Lee, Reb Brown, Marsha Hunt, and Sybil Danning. The Howling II is the only sequel in the series that features a plot that directly follows the original film's events; it is also the only Howling film to feature the input of the original novelist, Gary Brandner. Brandner was critical of the original 1981 film, which was only a loose adaptation of his 1977 novel, and some elements of this sequel may have been deliberately divergent from the previous film. After newswoman Karen White's shocking on-screen transformation and violent death, her brother Ben is approached by Stefan Crosscoe, a mysterious gentleman who claims that Karen was a werewolf. Providing videotaped evidence of the transformation, Crosscoe convinces Ben and Jenny to accompany him to Transylvania to battle Stirba, an immortal werewolf queen.

Howling III[edit]

The film was directed and written by Philippe Mora, and starred Barry Otto, Imogen Annesley, and Leigh Biolos. A scientist discovers that there are marsupial werewolves in Australia and one of them works in a horror movie.

Howling IV: The Original Nightmare[edit]

John Hough directed Howling IV: The Original Nightmare, which starred Romy Windsor, Michael T. Weiss, and Antony Hamiliton. The Original Nightmare is not so much a sequel, but, a more faithful adaptation of Brandner's original novel with subtle alterations. The film focuses on Marie, a successful suspense author, who is sent to the small town of Drago by her husband after suffering a nervous breakdown and becomes tormented by visions and werewolves.

Howling V: Rebirth[edit]

The film was directed by Neal Sundstrom and starred Philip Davis, Victoria Catlin, Elizabeth Shé, and Ben Cole. A group of eclectic travelers attend the opening of a long-sealed European castle and are later slowly being killed off by a werewolf. Now, to survive they must find out which one of them is the murderer.

Howling VI: The Freaks[edit]

The film was directed by Hope Perello, and starred Brendan Hughes, Bruce Payne, and Michele Matheson. Like most movies in the series, The Freaks is based on The Howling trilogy of novels and contains minor elements from The Howling III: Echoes novel: the solitary drifter who is cursed as a sympathetic werewolf and later recruited by a supernatural being as well as werewolves being used in carnival freak shows.

R.B. Harker, carnival owner, captures Ian, a solitary drifter and werewolf, to work for his carnival, where Ian is put on display with other human oddities. To further complicate matters, Harker too is a supernatural creature, a vampire, with a secret objective to recruit Ian by making him into a killer.

The Howling: New Moon Rising[edit]

Directed by, written by and starring Clive Turner, The Howling: New Moon Rising is the only sequel in the series since Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf to attempt at continuity.[2] Furthermore, the film utilizes footage from the Howling IV: The Original Nightmare, Howling V: The Rebirth, and Howling VI: The Freaks, featuring characters from each of those films.

After the arrival of a mysterious motorcyclist, the peace of a desert town is shattered by gruesome murders. A detective investigates the case, helped by a priest who is certain the killings are the work of a werewolf, leading the two of them to uncover several clues that connect events from a majority of the latter part of the series.

The Howling: Reborn[edit]

The Howling: Reborn was directed by Joe Nimziki. The film stars Landon Liboiron, Lindsey Shaw and Ivana Miličević. The story is credited to the novel The Howling II. A teenage outcast named Will Kidman discovers he is a werewolf and must battle a pack of the brutal creatures when they threaten him and his new girlfriend.


Film Year Rotten Tomatoes
The Howling 1981 66%[3]
Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf 1985 27%[4]
Howling III 1987 18%[5]
Howling IV: The Original Nightmare 1988 17%
Howling V: The Rebirth 1989 25%
Howling VI: The Freaks 1991 18%
Howling: New Moon Rising 1995 12%
The Howling: Reborn 2011 20%[6]


  1. ^ "Cover of The Howling". Amazon. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  2. ^ Clark, Craig J. (2016-07-28). "The Howling series got howlingly bad pretty quickly". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2016-11-19.
  3. ^ "The Howling". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2017-06-13.
  4. ^ "Howling II". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2017-06-13.
  5. ^ "Howling III: The Marsupials". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2017-06-13.
  6. ^ "Howling: Reborn". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2017-06-13.

External links[edit]