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Dave
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Reviewer: Dave
Review Date: October 27, 2008

Released by: Image Entertainment | Live
Release date: ?/??/1989
MSRP: $39.95 (OOP)
NTSC
Pan & Scan 1.33:1


I've always tried to keep my laserdisc reviews to titles that either haven't been released onto DVD (at least at the time of the review), or the DVD has specific features not present on the DVD. That's not the case here with Howling V: The Rebirth. Artisan released a double-feature DVD in 2003 that contains both Howling V and Howling VI. I plan to review that DVD at some point, but I made an exception for Howling V, primarily because I wanted to keep the focus on one movie, rather than two.

With the rights scattered about to all of the Howling movies, I was surprised to learn that only Part VII lacks a domestic DVD release. I've long searched for some good werewolf movies to compliment the original Howling, but always ended up disappointed. Lets take a look at Howling V: The Rebirth and see if it breaks the trend.

The Story

http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/howlingv-ld/howlingv-ld_shot1s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/howlingv-ld/howlingv-ld_shot1l.jpg) The year is 1489. In the dining hall of a castle in Budapest, bodies lay scattered about the floor. A man and a woman stand alone, asking God for forgiveness, claiming they had no other choice in order to destroy the evil. The man plunges a sword into the woman, turns her around, and plunges the protruding sword into himself. As he lay dying, a baby cries in the background. Something evil survived; the two died in vain.

http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/howlingv-ld/howlingv-ld_shot2s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/howlingv-ld/howlingv-ld_shot2l.jpg) The castle remains shut down and abandoned for 500 years. In 1989, it is reopened and a group of strangers are hand picked to be the first to enter. The group is led by Count Istvan (Philip Davis ). They arrive at the castle and as lunch is prepared, Professor Dawson (Nigel Triffit) decides to do a bit of exploring in an attempt to solve the mystery surrounding the castle. During lunch, Count Istvan makes an announcement that the Professor has hastily left the castle. No search attempt can be made due to an unexpected snowstorm that has hit.

http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/howlingv-ld/howlingv-ld_shot3s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/howlingv-ld/howlingv-ld_shot3l.jpg) With the storm in full force, the group has no choice but to spend the night. A few go to take a look at the sleeping quarters; Jonathan Lane (Mark Sivertsen ) and Marylou (Elizabeth Shé ) head to a hot spring; Gail Cameron (Stephanie Faulkner ) takes Ray Price (Clive Turner ) upstairs for a drink. Gail tells Ray that she believes the Count is lying about the Professor and that the Professor is still somewhere in the castle. After some convincing, Ray agrees to help Gail search for the Professor. The two split up and when Ray gets trapped behind a hidden passage, he sees Gail brutally murdered through a crack in the wall. The remainder of the group pair up and begin searching the underground passageways for Gail and Ray. As the search progresses, more people disappear. When bodies are found with slashed throats, the Count tells those remaining that they are all connected from a cursed bloodline from 500 years ago, and that one of them is a werewolf. Suspicion is cast on all and those remaining must unravel the mystery before they become the next victims.

http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/howlingv-ld/howlingv-ld_shot4s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/howlingv-ld/howlingv-ld_shot4l.jpg) Howling V is without a doubt my favorite of the Howling sequels, but considering just how awful most of the sequels are, that isn't necessarily saying much. Howling V: The Rebirth has no connection to the original, or to the sequel prior, Howling IV: The Original Nightmare. Instead, Howling V is a stand alone mystery movie that features a werewolf as the killer. “Features” may be a bit of a stretch, since we only glimpse a few scant shots of what appears to be a crudely designed werewolf. The filmmakers were at least smart enough to limit the werewolf shots. Normally I would complain about the lack of creature shots in a werewolf movie, but they made the right decision with the budget restrictions they faced.

http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/howlingv-ld/howlingv-ld_shot5s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/howlingv-ld/howlingv-ld_shot5l.jpg) Complaints aside, there's some enjoyment to be found in Howling V. The mystery aspect of it is sort of a fun take on Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians, even though it's abundantly clear by the half way point (I'm being generous here) who the killer/werewolf is. The characters are likable and while no acting awards will be won here, the performances given are adequate. While the budget was clearly a painfully low amount, there are some beautiful exterior shots of Hungary. The shots of inside the castle were well done, too.

Even with a 99 minute runtime, the movie has a good, steady pace. The atmosphere of the castle, the snowstorm, the mystery of the strangers all comes together nicely. It's genuinely enjoyable as a horror whodunit. It's far from perfect, but passable Howling sequels are things of rarity. If you go in knowing what to expect, you may just enjoy Howling V: The Rebirth

Image Quality

http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/howlingv-ld/howlingv-ld_shot6s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/howlingv-ld/howlingv-ld_shot6l.jpg) It's painfully clear that this is a laserdisc from the late 80s. It's equivalent to a VHS release, P&S and all. The exception is the laserdisc is not going to wear with repeat viewings. The image is soft and colors are dull. Surprisingly, a few print blemishes – dirt and a few scratches – are present, too. Grain is minimal and only present in a few of the darker scenes. I do take the age of the release into consideration, as well as the format (just as we do with high def. and DVD releases). As such, I'm rating this with a C for satisfactory.

Sound

The sound is in stereo and holds up much better than the image quality. There's little channel separation between the two front speakers, but the soundtrack comes through strong. No distortion is present and dialogue is clear.

Supplemental Material

No supplements are present on the disc.

Final Thoughts

This dated laserdisc may no longer be the best way to view Howling V, but it held the crown for nearly 14 years. The movie can be enjoyed if you don't go in expecting the the original. As a standalone whodunit, Howling V: The Rebirth is one of the better entries to the Howling series. Recommended.

Rating
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.
Movie - C+

Image Quality - C

Sound - B

Supplements - N/A


Technical Info.


Running Time - 1 hour 39 minutes
Color
Rated R
1 Disc, CLV
Stereo

Supplements

N/A

Other Pictures

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indiephantom
Any signs of laser rot in this case? That's been an issue with about 25% of my LD collection. In the case of half a dozen titles, it has made them all but unwatchable. I still cherish most of my discs, though.

I've never seen a HOWLING sequel beyond a few scenes online of the 2nd film. I look forward to checking them out at some point.

dave13
Interesting the similarities between this and Amicus's "The Beast Must Die", which is the same idea: ten little indians with a werewolf. Of course the settings are completely different, and "Beast..." is a mid-70's blaxploitation film, but they'd make for a pretty campy double-feature on a dark and stormy night.

Dave
No rot. I have yet to see any appearances of rot on my discs. Some titles are notorious for it, but you can usually get an idea at lddb.com.

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