Howling V: The Rebirth (1989)


You could basically replace the werewolf in “The Rebirth” with anything you wanted, and nothing would change. Ghosts, demons, a slasher out for revenge. Like the former sequels, “The Rebirth” builds up this illusion that it’s a werewolf film and a further progression of “The Howling” storyline, when in reality it’s just another dull horror film. And one that avoids showing actual werewolves for a duration of the story. I use the term “story” very loosely.

Opening with a hilariously over the top prologue, a mother and a father in a Hungarian castle have decided to kill their cursed baby. When the mother relays to the father she has done the dirty deed, he proceeds to impaling her with a sword, and then impales himself. As they lay dying, the baby continues crying, and he is horrified that they committed suicide for nothing. The least you could have done was check to see if the mother actually killed the baby. Or maybe do it yourself. You are a knight, after all. “We died in vain!” he screeches with inadvertent comedic effect as he goes limp, dying from the stomach wound. The baby continues crying meaning, the baby is alive and well, and a werewolf!

Cue the framework for the entire narrative. A group of people arrive at an old Hungarian castle after coming to the country, and gather to discover the castle and inspect its ancient history. While there, the mostly bland and one dimensional characters spend their time walking around the dark corridors, and dungeons, figuring out it holds many secrets. The situation becomes ever more menacing when the guests begin turning up dead. Someone among the group is a werewolf and they’re mutilating the other guests for peculiar reasons. Mid-way we learn that everyone is tied to the castle and they bear a specific that connects them to the castle, one another, and the curse of the baby.

How does that reflect on the storyline in future films? It doesn’t. After the film ends, it’s once again forgotten, and “The Howling” is rebooted. Again. The entirety of “The Rebirth” is based on the mystery character turning in to a wolf and murdering someone out of ear shot from the others. There are a ton of red herrings, a lot of misdirection, and yet absolutely no tension or suspense. I didn’t really care for the mystery since the characters are all mostly interchangeable and dull, while the werewolf is cloaked in the shadows with bits and pieces of the monsters filmed before a character is offed. “The Rebirth” doesn’t take the series in any new bold direction, doesn’t entertain as a werewolf film, and is altogether a lackluster effort.