To date, The Howling remains one of the best werewolf movies ever made. What you may know is that The Howling was followed be several sequels. Like The Puppet Master or Children of the Corn, The Howling spawned a seemingly never-ending series of straight-to-video sequels. Unlike those B-level franchises, The Howling sequels have absolutely no narrative connections to one another. They also haven’t extended on as along as these other franchises, making it something of a C-level franchise. Spoiler alert – most of the sequels are terrible. Like really bad. For some reason, The Howling VI: The Freaks re-surfaced briefly on Disney Prime and people watched it. Should you check it out or is this Howling sequel best left in the 90s?
Canton Bluff is a dying town – every day another resident leaves and a building goes empty. And then a British drifter, Ian Richards arrives, and everything changes. In exchange for a place to stay and food, Ian helps the local pastor, Dewey, to restore the town’s church. When a travelling carnival arrives, however, Ian recognizes a familiar evil that threatens the town and himself.
The Howling: VI The Freaks Does a Bit With Very Little
It would be easy to just label The Howling VI: The Freaks as a bad movie. And to be perfectly honest, it’s not a ‘good’ movie based on any objective standard. But from its opening scene this low-budget sequel is at the very least watchable. Maybe it’s low expectations. Keep in mind, this sequel has nothing going for it. Director Hope Perello and writer Kevin Rock did nothing before or after this movie. This is also the fifth sequel to a great movie followed by unrelated and increasingly bad sequels. In addition, The Howling VI: The Freaks is a straight-to-video sequel starring absolutely no one you will recognize.
But from its opening scene this low-budget sequel is at the very least watchable.
Those are just the immediate issues with The Howling VI: The Freaks. Maybe Perello knew their budget didn’t extend very far. Or perhaps Rock thought they were writing a more emotionally complex story. Regardless of the reason this werewolf has very little werewolf action. In fact, there’s not much action of which to speak. Expect to wait until the bitter end before the movie’s vampire faces off with the werewolf. The results are also underwhelming. In addition to its perfunctory climax, The Howling VI: The Freaks is riddled with plot inconsistencies. That is, writer Kevin Rock seems to have little to no understand of werewolf or vampire mythology. Even basic real world law kind of stuff evades this sequel. Why does no one in this movie think it’s wrong that a carnival barker puts abducts and confines a human being?
The Howling VI: The Freaks Won’t Make Horror Fans Forget the Joe Dante Classic
Lead villain Bruce Payne would go on to play the big heavy in Wesley Snipe action flick, Passenger 57. And that’s it. No one else among the cast is remotely recognizable. As R.B. Harker, Payne adds what amounts to the most professional performance in the film. It’s a better performance than what you’d expect in this sort of movie. And last name, ‘Harker’, amounts to something of a clever wink to audiences. Maybe some viewers will recognize a young Deep Roy (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). As the love interest, Michele Matheson stands out like a sore thumb amongst mostly wooden performances. While most of the supporting cast are subtly bad, Matheson is clearly poor in the role.
In all likelihood, The Freaks dials down the werewolf action to avoid overexposing its low budget.
Before playing our British werewolf, Ian, Brendan Hughes co-starred with George Clooney in Return to Horror High. Outside of that career highlight, Hughes didn’t do much after The Howling VI: The Freaks. Certainly, Hughes is the least of this sequel’s problems as he’s more than adequate in the role as long as the screenplay doesn’t place too much of a demand on him. In all likelihood, The Freaks dials down the werewolf action to avoid overexposing its low budget. However, the makeup effects on screen are actually not bad. Despite the sluggish pace, the character focus and small budget atmosphere make this one watchable.
The Howling VI: The Freaks Sort of Exceeds Very Low Expectations
On just about any technical level, The Howling VI: The Freaks isn’t a good movie. Think of what you consider important qualifications for a good movie. Acting – it ranges from middle-of-the-road to terrible here. Logical story – don’t expect any internal consistency. And this sequel is often dull. Yet in spite of all its limitations, The Howling VI: The Freaks isn’t an outright terrible movie. While it’s not saying much, this is probably the best of The Howling sequels. Moreover, The Freaks is a watchable movie that doesn’t overextend itself. This is a bad movie that knows exactly what it is. Lover of bad cinema may find something to enjoy. Just don’t expected an early 90s version of Underworld.