Howling III: The Marsupials

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Details At A Glance

Category Horror Main Menu Audio
Scene Selection Animation and Audio
Crew Biographies
Crew Filmographies
Photo Gallery
Howling III Trailer
Communion Trailer
Pterodactyl Woman From Beverly Hills Trailer
Rating m.gif (1166 bytes)
Year Released 1987
Running Time
98:02 Minutes
(Not 94 Minutes as per packaging)
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 1,2,3,4,5,6 Director Philippe Mora
Bancannia Pictures
Starring William Yang
Deby Wightman
Christopher Pate
Jerome Patillo
Case Alpha
RPI $24.95 Music Allan Zavod

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Vertically Stretched English (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 224 Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Original Aspect Ratio ?1.85:1
Macrovision ? Smoking No
Subtitles None Annoying Product Placement Yes, mildly
Action In or After Credits No, thankfully

Plot Synopsis

    Oh man, if there's one thing I will never willingly do again, it's watch Howling III: The Marsupials! Having viewed the previous episode in this series a while ago on VHS, I figured that I would at least be getting to see plenty of blood, gore, and nudity, if nothing else. However, there is barely a smidge of blood in this film, nothing even vaguely resembling gore, and the only nudity to be found is repulsive enough to spoil my already-frail appetite. The fact that the last episode in this saga, rather curiously titled Howling: New Moon Rising (or Howling: New Dud Sinking, as some are calling it) was voted tenth on the IMDB's hundred worst of all time list didn't help my enthusiasm any. Howling II: Your Sister Is A Werewolf was sufficiently bloody and pornographic enough in nature to warrant an R rating, but this episode is strictly aimed at particularly retarded teen audiences. Howling III: The Marsupials had a theatrical trailer that was goofy enough to promote the film as a comedy rather than a horror, but it even fails on this level by not being particularly funny.

    The film is mostly set in outback Australia, where anthropologists believe werewolves to be in existence. One female werewolf manages to land a job working in films, where she is often heard to state that this is not how werewolves really live. After she sleeps with one of her fellow actors, they go to a party where the constant strobing lights rile her and she runs off into the city streets (which feature a few landmarks I actually recognized). When she is hit by a car, she is taken to a hospital where her marsupial nature is discovered, and all sorts of werewolf mayhem is set off. Before she escapes with the aid of three werewolf nuns, however, we discover that she is pregnant.

    Words, and a 3.1 out of ten rating from 123 IMDB users, fail to describe how awful this film really is. It was only through constant stopping and starting that I was able to stick with it to the abysmal end. I would normally use this plot synopsis space to list all the reasons why you shouldn't consider investing in this film, but the old adage that rotten films get the best transfers doesn't apply here. The transfer quality is almost as bad as the film itself.

Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented with vertical stretching (ie stretched upwards to fit into the 4:3 ratio of 1987-generation television screens), but enabling the 16x9 mode on my television restored the correct 1.85:1 proportioning to the image. This leaves one of two possibilities regarding the transfer's lack of 16x9 Enhancement: either Avenue One properly sourced the transfer from widescreen material and forgot to add the 16x9 flag, or they transferred the film to VHS with this vertical stretching and figured that what was good enough for the Very Hazy System is good enough for DVD. Given the quality of the transfer, even when this error is forgotten, the latter explanation seems a lot more likely.

    The sharpness of this transfer is non-existent, and about on par with a VHS cassette that has been sitting on a rental outlet's shelves for at least half of the thirteen years that this film has been around. Low-level noise is all over this transfer to an extent that I have never previously seen on DVD, and I cannot imagine even Dune being significantly worse in this regard. The opening credits were not only plagued by noise, but also by a ghosting artefact that I have only seen before on VHS cassettes from the weekly rental section. The shadow detail is poor, but this appears to be inherent to the film stock with which the feature was shot rather than a transfer problem.

    The colour saturation varies up and down throughout the transfer, with every second frame looking considerably more yellow than the one before it. A good example of this is the ballet scene, where the two men in the audience can be seen turning yellow when the transfer is viewed frame by frame. Aside from this artefact, the colour saturation is so dull and washed out that you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching an old slide show. Dot crawl is frequently present around the edges of objects, giving every object in a number of shots a sort of hazy outline that was quite distracting after a while.

    MPEG artefacts consisted of minor background macro-blocking and motion compensation, which is really to be expected when you put source material of this quality onto a single-layer DVD. Film-to-video artefacts weren't a problem in this transfer, because the transfer doesn't have the resolution needed for this artefact to become apparent. Film artefacts were scattered throughout the transfer, with numerous black and white marks appearing on the picture at regular intervals. Overall, this is a transfer that makes a mockery of the "Digitally Remastered From Original Negative" claim on the back cover.


    Considering the shape that the video transfer is in, I suppose it is a small blessing that the audio transfer is in as good a condition as it is. The DVD's packaging claims that a "Newly Remixed 5.1 Soundtrack" is present upon this disc. Newly remastered it might be, although I also have some doubts about this claim, but discretely encoded into 5.1 channels it is not. There is only one soundtrack present on this DVD: the original English dialogue rendered in Dolby Digital 2.0 with surround-encoding and a bitrate of 224 kilobits per second.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times, save for moments when the actors are screaming like wild animals, which isn't the fault of the transfer in any case. When these moments occur, some mild distortion becomes apparent in the higher frequencies. Some distortion can also be heard in the sound effects, which are as flat and dull as the score music. There are no problems with audio sync, save for some extremely crappy ADR here and there that mostly consists of screaming and growling, anyway.

    The score music in this film is credited to one Allan Zavod, and an irritatingly B-grade effort it is at that. Perhaps the worst aspect of this soundtrack is the presence of didgeridoos, which sound muffled and mildly distorted whenever present, or maybe it's the clichéd note on the strings that sounds whenever we're supposed to be shocked or scared. If you've ever seen the decidedly stupid theatrical trailer for this film, which is also present on this DVD, then you will have a pretty accurate picture of what you can expect.

    A 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack this may well be, at least according to the decoder built into my amplifier, but listening to each speaker in my home theatre revealed that more or less the exact same sounds were coming from each channel. There are no split surround, or even split stereo, effects in this soundtrack. The effect is something like having the entire film's soundtrack played at the listener from five different sources at once, giving the whole film a sort of overbearing feel that certainly doesn't help in the immersion factor. When all is said and done, I would have honestly preferred a straight 1.0 mix, since it probably would have been just as effective.

    The subwoofer was constantly present in the soundtrack, taking some redirected signal from the front channels, as well as supporting the sounds of explosions and music.



    The main menu is accompanied by Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, while the scene selection menu is accompanied by Dolby Digital 2.0 sound and is animated. The menus are not 16x9 Enhanced.

Crew Biography

    A single biography for Philippe Mora, the writer, producer, and director of this turkey.

Crew Filmography

    A single filmography for Philip Mora, the writer, producer, and director of this turkey.

Photo Gallery

    A collection of unannotated stills from the film.

Howling III Trailer

    An excellent sample of just how bad the feature is, quality-wise. This ninety-five second trailer is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

Communion Trailer

    Clocking in at fifty-four seconds, the video quality of this 2.35:1 trailer is almost as appalling as the feature. The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack is plagued with hissing.

Pterodactyl Woman From Beverly Hills Trailer

    This two-minute and ten-second trailer is presented in the aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. The name of the film should give you a good idea of the sort of quality you can expect from this trailer.

R4 vs R1

    Lucky for them, Region 1 apparently hasn't been "blessed" with this title. If, however, you do find a version of this title from Elite Entertainment or Anchor Bay, I would recommend you invest in that version rather than this one, since those two distributors at least seem to take some pride in the workmanship of their transfers.


    Howling III: The Marsupials is an awful film, and there's no other way to summarize my experience of viewing it. The story is utterly ridiculous, the acting is wooden enough to put your drink on top of, and the technical side of the filmmaking is almost on par with an Ed Wood film.

    The video quality is inferior to some of the ten-year-old VHS cassettes I've had the pleasure of viewing.

    The audio quality is passable, but a straight 1.0 mix could have done the job just as well.

    The extras are limited.

Ratings (out of 5)

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 © Dean McIntosh (my bio sucks... read it anyway)
January 30, 2001

Review Equipment
DVD Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output
Display Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm) in 16:9 and 4:3 modes, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built In (Amplifier)
Amplification Sony STR-DE835, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NS-C120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer