Why are local sheriffs in small towns in America so hell bent on nobody visiting? Is tourism just not a thing in these places? If a film is set in some desolated town, and the protagonist is just coming in, you can set your clock to a sheriff coming along, explaining that they don’t take too kindly to strangers in these here parts. I think sheriffs should be forced to watch First Blood (1982) and see what can happen. Even Brian Dennehy didn’t stand a chance.
Anyways, the sixth Howling film. I’m not sure anybody asked for it, but it was made, and without the participation of Clive Turner, the director and writer who has been blamed for how crappy Howling IV: The Original Nightmare (1988) and Howling V: The Rebirth (1989) turned out because of his untalented meddling. To be fair, it’s a Howling film in name only. Like the other two that came before it, it has no connection to The Howling (1981). It even reintroduces the “full moon makes you turn” concept that was explained to be bullshit in previous films.
It’s about this guy, Ian, who is good with wood who moves to a town coincidently at the same time a Freak Show comes around. The Freak Show’s manager Harker (played by Bruce Payne, marking this the first time since the third film were a recognizable actor makes an appearance in Howling film), finds the cursed man and puts him in a cage, so he can join the sideshow of freaks. The sheriff tries to save Ian from his imprisonment, but Ian wants to stay.
The freaks are mostly “freaks” in name only. There is an alligator boy, who is a man with a skin condition; a guy dressed up like half a woman (think Two-Face but one side is male, the other female), a geek who eats the heads of chickens, and some persons of short stature (one of them is Deep Roy who portrayed all the Oompa Loompas in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)).
One of my biggest issues with the last two Howling films was the almost total lack-off werewolves. The Freak Show rectifies that some by having Ian actually turn into a werewolf. It’s a different version of a werewolf from the previous entries though. His transformation is much more akin to how the Lon Chaney Jr. looked in The Wolf-Man (1941), a man with a semi-human face and wolf qualities, not a literal huge monster wolf. The makeup effects are quite good, and as a bonus there is also a vampire.
Howling VI: The Freaks is a mildly entertaining film; a great improvement to the fourth and fifth chapter in the series, but those were really terrible movies. It’s quite forgettable, but worth a watch for werewolf completionists.