WE JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND werewolves. If there's a point to "Howling III" (yes, "Howling III"), that would be it. The rest of this silliness is Australian color, not-so-special effects and barely enough camp to fill a wallaby's pouch.

This third lupine configuration, natch, has no relationship to either "Howling" predecessor -- except that some humans turn into werewolves whenever excited (sexual frenzy, flashing lightbulbs in the face, offscreen cue cards that say "Turn into a werewolf," etc.).

In one of two plots, scientist/teacher Harry Beckmeyer (Barry Otto) is fascinated by the werewolves who chomped his gramps; and in the other, an adolescent werewolf girl (a werewolfette?) elopes with the assistant director of a horror movie -- against her wolf-father's wishes. She will later bear a latex childling that looks like those E. T. dolls you can buy at J. C. Penney.

Somehow, all these people figure in this wolf-brained script: an actor imitating the American president; the Australian military (consisting of two elite soldiers -- the apparent result of severe budget cutting); an expatriate Russian ballerina named Olga who grows a muzzle in the middle of a pas de deux (don't you hate when that happens?); three werewolves dressed inexplicably in nuns' habit; the requisite, admonishing Aborigines; and a family of werewolves who appear to be extras waiting for the next "Road Warrior" sequel.

Putting them under hypnosis, Beckmeyer tries to interview some of the werewolves but their cheeks tend to create latex bubbles, and then they get upset and kill people. Unable to persuade the awesome military twosome not to exterminate those who grow stomach hair, Beckmeyer decides to free them himself. He gets involved with the Russian, and then you got your basic international human-werewolf incident.

Beckmeyer and the assistant director and their were-women escape to the wilds and -- oh forget it. Just keep in mind that when Olga, under hypnosis, is asked where other werewolf tribes can be found, she says there are tribes in China, Africa and "maybe California."HOWLING III (PG-13) -- At area theaters.