In 1977 author Gary Brandner released the surprising hit horror novel The Howling. A successful literary trilogy followed, and it was inevitable that Hollywood would come calling and provide the hot new property with a big screen adaptation.
Released in 1981, Joe Dante's The Howling would only be loosely inspired by the source material and the film as a whole was well received, if somewhat overshadowed by the release of An American Werewolf in London the same year.
In hindsight, perhaps the picture losing some of its thunder was an attempt to prevent what would come later... however, money talks in Hollywood, and The Howling did turn a VERY tidy profit. With the release of a sequel 4 years later, The Howling began its long, painful journey into the halls of horror infamy.
Despite painful reviews, ever-decreasing budgets and a complete lack of public interest, The Howling was a franchise that simply refused to die. Much like the dreaded full moon, a new Howling movie would arrive regularly for the next decade, eventually rising to eight entries of seriously varying quality.
With that brief history out of the way, let's dive in and attempt to rank the Howling franchise best to worst.
8. The Howling VII: New Moon Rising (1995)
Where to even begin with The Howling VII? This is a movie so bad it is constantly on IMDb's Bottom 100 list of movies.
The seventh entry in the franchise attempts to tell the tale of residents and livestock being picked off in a California desert town. The mysterious deaths appear to coincide with the appearance of Ted, a mysterious Australian drifter.
This train wreck was written, produced and directed by Clive Turner, an Australian producer with involvement in 4 of the 8 Howling films. The entire project plays out as a huge ego trip for the man, as he also stars in the movie and every second name in the credits is his.
The film attempts to bridge the events of The Howling 4 - 6, with Turner on the trail of Mary Lou, a mysterious female werewolf. If this sounds somewhat interesting... don't be fooled. Filmed in Yucca Valley, California, the movie hired actual locals to play themselves, resulting in some truly dreadful performances.
The picture also features extended sequences of said locals line dancing, resorts to fart humor and baked bean jokes and has what just might be the worst on screen werewolf transformation in history. So little of the plot is dedicated to werewolves, it all seems to play like a strange Public Service Announcement for this tiny hick town.