Howling IV: The Original Nightmare (1988)
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Howling4I thought “The Marsupials” was dull, but after watching “The Original Nightmare,” I think “The Marsupials” is a festival of excitement by comparison. At least the former sequel goes somewhere and makes progress with its story. “The Original Nightmare” is just a rehash of the original “The Howling” with a hint of “Let’s Scare Jessica To Death” slowed down with a pacing so tedious and grueling, you’ll nod off before the half hour mark. The movie makes absolutely no sense, and when it finally pays off, it’s incredibly anti-climactic.

Nothing about “The Original Nightmare” shows promise, and attempts a new angle at the werewolf clan premise once again. In the first film they were a community, the second found them as medieval new wave rockers, and this one they’re suddenly Satanic worshippers of some kind. Much of “The Original Nightmare” takes its beats from the original film. Romy Windsor gives a wooden performance as Marie, a young woman who has a sudden breakdown at a restaurant. Her husband decides the best thing for her is to get away and they end up at a seemingly deserted town where about ten people reside for miles. While there, Marie and her husband come across shifty locals, an unusual recurrence of animal attacks, and of course, Marie’s husband quickly loses patience with her and seeks sexual satisfaction with a flirtatious shop keeper.

Marie of course may or may not be going insane, as her fluffy dog suddenly disappears, and someone in the village seems to be intent on making her think she’s going nuts. Or maybe Marie is actually losing her mind. Or maybe Marie might be connected with an ancient nun that fought werewolves of some kind. Thus leading her in to this village that helps her unfold the mystery of the nun, and the secrets behind the village composed of ten people for a hundred miles. Similar to “Let’s Scare Jessica to Death” we can never be sure if much of the terror and damage resides in the mind of our female protagonist, and what the villains themselves are attempting to accomplish. Is the flirtatious shop keeper trying to bed Marie’s husband for nefarious purposes, or is she just intent on sleeping with him?

“The Original Nightmare” is incredibly poor in production quality and seems to cut corners at every front. The set pieces are obviously nothing but ghost towns, the cast is very small, the writing is simple, and the werewolves are really nothing but craftily edited scenes of large dogs running in to the darkness. The performances also range from wooden to downright awful, as the sound editing makes the dialogue seem dubbed over, for some odd reason. Windsor’s performance is stale, and Michael T. Weiss seems to have been cast only to walk around bare chested, and flaunt his sexuality. “The Original Nightmare” is a ridiculously sluggish horror film lacking in tension, suspense, and atmosphere, and can definitely be a perfect occasion to flex the fast forward button.