Howling IV: The Original Nightmare

Howling IV: The Original Nightmare is a 1988 direct-to-video horror film directed by John Hough from a screenplay by Freddie Rowe and Clive Turner.[2] Starring Romy Windsor, Michael T. Weiss, Antony Hamilton, Susanne Severeid and Lamya Derval. The Original Nightmare is the fourth entry in the series of seven stand-alone films with loose continuity and not so much a sequel, but, a more faithful adaptation of Gary Brandner's source novel The Howling (1977).

Howling IV: The Original Nightmare
Video release cover
Directed byJohn Hough
Produced byHarry Alan Towers
Screenplay by
  • Freddie Rowe
  • Clive Turner
Story byClive Turner
Based onnovel
by Gary Brandner
  • Romy Windsor
  • Michael T. Weiss
  • Antony Hamilton
  • Susanne Severeid
Music by
  • David George
  • Barrie Guard
  • Justin Hayward
CinematographyGodfrey A. Godar
Edited by
  • Malcolm Burns-Errington
  • Claudia Finkle
Allied Vision
Distributed by
Release date
  • 1988 (1988)
Running time
94 minutes
CountryUnited States

International Video Entertainment (IVE) released this film directly to home video in 1988. Platinum Disc Corporation (now Echo Bridge Home Entertainment) released it on DVD in 2004 and it has been released numerous times since. It was filmed on location in South Africa.


After experiencing visions of a nun, author Marie Adams (Romy Windsor) is in the middle of a meeting with her agent, Tom Billings (Antony Hamilton), when she has another vision of a wolf-like creature lunging from a fire, and begins to scream hysterically. Marie's husband, Richard (Michael T. Weiss), discusses her condition with her doctor, agreeing that Marie's overactive imagination is leading her into some dangerous territory. The doctor advises Richard to take Marie away from the pressures of her life for a few weeks. Richard locates a cottage in the small town of Drago, some hours from Los Angeles. Tom drives Marie there, but then departs quickly in the face of Richard. Marie looks around the cottage and declares it to be perfect; but that night, while she and Richard are making love, Marie is disturbed by the sound of howling out in the woods.

The next day, Marie and Richard look around Drago, where they meet the mysterious Eleanor (Lamya Derval), a local artist who owns a shop of antiques and knick-knacks, and the Ormsteads, who run the local store. Marie takes her dog for a walk, and becomes distressed when he runs off. That night, Marie dreams of wolves, of herself running through the woods, and of the same nun of whom she had visions. Richard drives into Los Angeles for a meeting, and Marie spends time chatting with Mrs. Ormstead, who tells her about the previous couple to occupy the cottage, and that they left town without a word. Marie is walking home through the woods when, suddenly, she sees before her the nun of her visions. She runs after her – but it turns out to be Eleanor in a dark cape. Eleanor points out a shortcut to the cottage, which Marie takes. She discovers a cave on the way, and what's left of her dog.

In horror, Marie runs through the woods, suddenly aware that she is being pursued. At the cottage, Richard quiets his hysterical wife and checks outside, but sees nothing; not even the dark figure nearby. The next morning, Marie witnesses a strange apparition: an elderly man and woman who appear in her living-room and who warn her to go away. Marie is momentarily distracted by a car pulling up outside, and the next instant her ghostly visitors are gone. The newcomer is Janice Hatch (Susanne Severeid), who is holidaying in the area and is a fan of Marie's writing. Marie invites her in and, as they are talking, mentions the howling that she hears at night.

After some hesitation, Janice reveals that she used to be a nun, and that her closest friend, Sister Ruth (Megan Kruskal), disappeared over a year ago, only to be found in Drago speaking incoherently of the devil, and a bell, and the sound of howling. After a long illness, Ruth died without ever being able to explain what happened to her; and Janice, determined to discover the truth, left the convent. Marie is disturbed by the mention of a nun, and becomes even more so when Janice shows her a photograph of Sister Ruth: it is the nun from her visions. Meanwhile, Richard, becoming frustrated with Marie's instability and visions, becomes drawn to Eleanor and sleeps with her.

Marie eventually learns that all the inhabitants of the village are werewolves and Sister Ruth was babbling "Werewolves here" rather than "We're all in fear" as everyone had assumed. When she tells Richard what she's learned, he angrily dismisses her claims and goes for a walk in the woods by their house. As he's walking, he sees Eleanor seemingly waiting for him. As the two begin to get intimate, the evil Eleanor transforms into a werewolf, bites Richard, and runs off. He stumbles back to the house and tells Marie he saw the werewolf. But that night after being examined by the town doctor, he claims he just fell down. Richard begins acting strangely and the next night as he's walking in the woods, transforms into a werewolf as the villagers, who are also revealed as werewolves look on and then attempt to attack Marie.

Marie escapes and following the storyline of the original folk tale she lures the inhabitants to the local church using its bell and then burns them all alive, including Richard. The film ends with a burning werewolf lunging at Marie out of the fire just as she had foretold in her vision.


Shooting took place in South Africa.[3]


The film's theme song "Something Evil, Something Dangerous" was performed by Justin Hayward, lead singer of The Moody Blues.


In Horror Films of the 1980s, author John Kenneth Muir rated it 1.5/4 stars.[4] Scott Aaron Stine wrote in The Gorehound's Guide to Splatter Films of the 1980s that the film is "completely generic" and a rehash of the original.[5] Mike Mayo, who wrote The Horror Show Guide: The Ultimate Frightfest of Movies, called it unsuspenseful and said the film's only connection to the series is its title.[6] Craig J. Clark of The A.V. Club wrote the script, low budget, and poor special effects prevent the film from becoming suspenseful.[7]


Co-writer Clive Turner appears in the film as a tow truck driver. Turner also worked on the subsequent Howling V: The Rebirth, Howling VI: The Freaks and wrote and directed the seventh film in the "Howling" series, The Howling: New Moon Rising.


  1. Mann, Dave (2014). Harry Alan Towers: The Transnational Career of a Cinematic Contrarian. McFarland & Company. p. 132.
  2. Variety film review; 23 November 1988
  3. Armstrong, Richard B.; Armstrong, Mary Willems (2000). Encyclopedia of Film Themes, Settings and Series. McFarland & Company. p. 102. ISBN 9780786445721.
  4. Muir, John Kenneth. Horror Films of the 1980s, Volume 1. McFarland & Company. pp. 665–666. ISBN 9780786455010.
  5. Stine, Scott Aaron (2003). The Gorehound's Guide to Splatter Films of the 1980s. McFarland & Company. p. 158. ISBN 9781476611327.
  6. Mayo, Mike (2013). The Horror Show Guide: The Ultimate Frightfest of Movies. Visible Ink Press. p. 185. ISBN 9781578594597.
  7. Clark, Craig J. (July 28, 2016). "The Howling series got howlingly bad pretty quickly". The A.V. Club. Retrieved November 19, 2016.

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