HOWLING VI: THE FREAKS (1991) Reviews and overview

 

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Howling VI: The Freaks is a 1991 American-British horror film about a cursed young man who is captured by an evil vampire carnival owner.

Directed by Hope Perello (St. Patrick’s Day; Pet Shop) from a screenplay written by Kevin Rock (Raging Angels; The Fantastic Four 1994; Philadelphia Experiment II; Warlock: The Armageddon) very loosely based on Gary Brandner’s The Howling novels. Produced by John C. Broderick and Robert Pringle.

The monsters were created by Steve Johnson’s XFX (Winston and Harker’s effects) and Todd Masters Company (special makeup effects).

The Allied Entertainments Group-Allied Vision co-production stars Brendan Hughes (Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat; To Die For; Return to Horror High), Michele Matheson, Sean Sullivan (The Toll), Antonio Fargas (SnakeHead Swamp; The Borrower; Firestarter), Carol Lynley (Dark Tower; The Cat and the Canary; The Shuttered Room), Jered Barclay (War of the Satellites) and Bruce Payne (Nemesis; Ripper: Letter from Hell; Warlock III: The End of Innocence; Necronomicon).

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Reviews:

“The budget restraints hurt this sequel like the previous two and thanks to Hope Perello’s lackluster directing, it has a very direct-to-video feel about it where the last two direct-to-video sequels could have passed as theatrical material. The absolute worst aspect is the look of the werewolf. It looks more like bigfoot or a Neanderthal as opposed to a werewolf.” Blood Brothers

Payne looks claustrophobic in his vampire make-up, while character Ian looks like a hairy plastic surgery victim as a werewolf. The Freaks really tries to turn the werewolf narrative into another tragic drama with a horror angle. In the end, it’s just a middling gimmicky sequel, with Bruce Payne giving a charismatic turn as a villain, making up for the forgettable turn by the entire cast, including Brendan Hughes.” Cinema Crazed

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“Hope Perello is the director of the film and she seemed to come from Charles Band Full Moon Production company and that is something that shows with this film. It has the same type of safe and fun atmosphere that most of the Full Moon movies have, although it does get a little bloodier at times. The film does show her inexperience and could have been put together more tightly.” Cinema Terror

” …a breath of fresh air after the last few installments. The acting is pretty good and the script shows that the filmmakers really attempted to make a decent film, rather than a simple cash-in sequel. Unfortunately, the direction is bland, the film is too long due to unnecessary filler, and the werewolf effects are overshadowed by the vampire and other freaks’ make-up work.” Full Moon Reviews

Howling VI isn’t a great movie, but I have to give them credit, they did put in an effort to make it a great movie. They took their story seriously, approached it with respect, and tried to tell it in an emotionally involving way, if not exactly an exciting one. This is definitely up there as one of the best Howling sequels, even if it does drag at times.” Life Between Frames

“The plot is just goofy, underdeveloped and lame. To fill out the run-time, the movie has a romantic sub-plot, the main plot and character moments for just about every person in town […] The action is good at times, although it’s certainly confusing.” Mondo Bizarro

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“There are times when the scripting feels rushed and the performances [email protected], and this does make it tough to care about the plight of some of the characters but the circus setting gives the movie a certain ‘something’ that keeps it going. The pacing isn’t bad and, again, for the modest budget this was made on, the effects aren’t awful. There’s some pretty cool ‘guy in a rubber suit’ action here and some of the creature design is neat.” Rock! Shock! Pop!

“One of my biggest issues with the last two Howling films was the almost total lack-off werewolves. The Freak Show rectifies that some […] His transformation is much more akin to how Lon Chaney Jr. looked in The Wolf Man (1941), a man with a semi-human face and wolf qualities, not a literal huge monster wolf. The makeup effects are quite good, and as a bonus, there is also a vampire.” SBS

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“There is nothing mind-blowing about the transformation scenes in Howling 6, but they still manage to occasionally creep out. The effects are nothing crazy; sometimes clouded by fog and darkness to avoid revealing bad creature design. This sequel does things better than the previous ones, but it is no more than decent, in the end.” Tales of Terror

” …Steve Johnson did the makeup effects on the alligator boy and another character and they are excellent. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the werewolf itself, which espouses the traditional Howling werewolf style for a more old-fashioned wolf-man look. I understand the reasoning when the werewolf is a sympathetic character and needs to emote somewhat, but the makeup isn’t great…” That Film Guy

“Neophyte screenwriter Kevin Rock also ups the ante by making the werewolf a sympathetic figure […] In addition, Rock provides a worthy adversary with Harker’s vampire character. Thankfully, both leads are well trained enough to pull it off. The script still has some major problems.” Video Junkie

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“It almost accidentally jumps over most of the cliched issues within the franchise. It takes the series in a different direction, and it is a better corny wolfman flick for it. Ultimately there are a lot worse movies out there on the subject matter but not a lot with effects as sh*tty when it comes to the actual werewolf.” Video Religion

Howling 6 moves at a slow pace and it takes a good 45 minutes before anyone turns into a werewolf.  As far as the effects are concerned, they are decent, compared to what we’ve seen in the other sequels, but the final creature (which isn’t all that hairy) is kind of lame […] Much of the film is too dark, which might’ve been on purpose to hide the weak werewolf effects.” The Video Vacuum

Choice dialogue:

R.B Harker: “You’re the worst kind of freak, one who tries to control it.”

Sheriff Fuller: “That’s it! I’ve had enough bullsh*t for one day!”

Cast and characters:

Brendan Hughes … Ian
Michele Matheson … Elizabeth aka Lizzie
Sean Sullivan … Winston (as Sean Gregory Sullivan)
Antonio Fargas … Bellamey
Carol Lynley … Miss Eddington
Jered Barclay … Dewey
Bruce Payne … R.B Harker (as Bruce Martyn Payne)
Gary Carlos Cervantes … Sheriff Fuller (as Carlos Cervantes)
Christopher Morley … Carl / Carlotta
Deep Roy … Toones
Randy Pelish … Pruitt
Ben Kronen … Hank
John A. Neris … Earl Bartlett
Al White … Carny Worker
Jeremy West … Lester

Filming locations:

California, USA

Technical details:

100 minutes
Audio: Ultra Stereo
Aspect ratio: 1.33: 1

Fun facts:

Brendan Hughes was no stranger to lycanthropic roles. In An American Werewolf in London (1981) he played the fully transformed creature, uncredited.

Trailer: