Howling VI: The Freaks

United Kingdom

102 min     4.5     1991     United Kingdom


A villainous carnival owner traps a young werewolf to include in his growing menagerie of inhuman exhibits.


John Chard wrote:
Harker's World of Wonders. The Howling (1981) remains to me one of the finest Werewolf movies ever made, though looking a bit tired these days, there still remains a wrought terror there, the effects work impressive even in this age of amazing effects advancements. What is actually surprising is that it would spawn a whole raft of sequels, becoming a cash cow franchise that not only failed to grasp the essence of writer Gary Brander's prose, but also in how the stories were schizophrenic in relation to the Werewolf formula. Part VI: The Freaks is not a great movie, but it has a grand idea at its core, shifting the story arc into the mysterious realm of circus freaks, thus making this very much of interest for anyone with a kink for carnival/fairground/circus horror films. It's this backdrop, and the all round eerie atmospherics wrung out by director Hope Perello and cinematographer Edward Pei, that keeps this sequel above average. Plot basically finds a drifter known only as Ian (Brendan Hughes) wandering into the town of Canton Bluff and in spite of some hostility from the sheriff of the town, manages to find some lodgings with troubled pastor Dewey (Jered Barclay) and his daughter Elizabeth (Michele Matheson). All seems rosy until the arrival of a travelling show called Harker's World of Wonders. Fronted by the mysterious R.B. Harker (Bruce Payne), it's a veritable showcase for the misfits, the freaks and the runts. But much like Harker has a dark secret, so too does Ian, and when revealed, the town of Canton Bluff will never be the same. Unfortunately the main promotional poster for the film gives the game away, so it's no spoiler to say that it's all building towards a monster face-off, with the character name of Harker a not very subtle clue as well. In between there is the standard relationship building narrative, with Ian battling his demons as he comes to adore both Elizabeth and Dewey, while the tours around the "show" are suitably creepy. Payne is giving good pompous aristocratic entertainment, while seeing Antonio Fargas and Carol Lynley in this gives novelty value whilst serving to remind that actors do sometimes have to work for food! It's dressed up nicely and never insulting, and in context to the budget available it deserves a gentle golf clap type of grudging appreciation. Even if it's hardly a must see for Werewolf lovers. 6/10