Cinema/TV, Dracula, Film Notes

Your Daily Dracula – Bruce Martyn Payne as R.B. Harker, Howling VI The Freaks (1991)

Your Daily Dracula – Bruce Martyn Payne as R.B. Harker, Howling VI The Freaks (1991)

By no means the most ludicrous*, nor the worst**, of the slapdash run of sequels to Joe Dante’s excellent film of Gary Brander’s schlock novel, this is still pretty a) ludicrous and b) bad.  However, it is good for a few lycanthropic laughs thanks to its weirdo werewolf soap opera storyline, the number of other horror movie formulae worked into its hairy happenings, and the way it channels the then-all-pervasive small‑town shenanigans influence of Twin Peaks into trashy monster movie stuff.

Ian Richards (Brendan Hughes), an English werewolf, wanders into the drought-stricken town of Canton Bluffs and gets a gig helping the preacher (Randy Pelish) and his pretty daughter (Michele Matheson) renovate the church.  Typical of the bass-ackwards plotting is that Ian is on the trail of Harker (Bruce Martyn Payne), a Julian Sands‑impersonating vampire***, but gets to town ahead of Harker’s carnival of wonders.  Sole survivor of a massacre perpetrated by the vampire and recipient of a curse, Ian is not so much a werewolf as a werewuss – in one scene, he can’t bring himself to kill a kitten.

Harker captures his nemesis and puts him on display for the paying customers, using an incantation that forces a transformation even when the moon isn’t full, and the whole thing pays off with an enjoyably old‑fashioned monster‑bashing session as the two fiends turn into fanged forms and rip each other up.  Harker’s look is bizarrely Nosferatu in blackface, though Steve Johnson stages an impressive, practical disintegration-at-sunup effect.

With Antonio Fargas as a chic geek (and Renfield-reference bug-lover), Carol Lynley as the doomed town banker, Sean Sullivan as the Alligator Boy and Deep Roy as a three-armed dwarf (DR has been in more franchises than any other actor, clocking credits in The New Avengers, Pink Panther, Dr Who, Blakes 7, Flash Gordon, The Dark Crystal, Star Wars, Tarzan, Oz, The X-Files, Planet of the Apes, Star Trek, and Transformers).  Written by Kevin Rock (Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four), directed by Hope Perello (Pet Shop).

*Howling III The Marsupials

**Howling New Moon Rising

***Payne was literally the direct-to-video Julian Sands, taking over the lead role of the Warlock series from Sands.


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