Howling II:
Your Sister is a Werewolf
U.S.A. - U.K. / 1985
Directed by Philippe Mora
Starring
Christopher Lee
Sybil Danning
Reb Brown
Color / 91 Minutes / R
Format: DVD / R1 - NTSC
MGM Home Entertainment
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Howling 2-Fer (2010)
Review by
Brian Lindsey
 
6
    5   10 = Highest Rating  
Perhaps best known for its gonzo closing credits sequence in which a topless shot of Sybil Danning is repeated a whopping 17 times (!) in sync with the film's pulsing New Wave theme song Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf is universally reviled as one of the worst sequels ever made. That this thoroughly botched follow-up to Joe Dante's original The Howling (1981) is indeed a dreadful motion picture is a fact I cannot deny. But that doesn't mean I don't like it. Actually, I find it every bit as entertaining as the first film just for all the wrong reasons!
    After a pre-titles prologue featuring Christopher Lee reading an ominous passage from the Book of Revelations, the story picks up with the funeral of Karen White, the TV reporter gunned down in the climax of The Howling. (Played by Dee Wallace in the original, a different actress portrays her corpse here.) At the conclusion of the service her grieving brother Ben (Reb Brown) is approached by the mysterious Stefan Crosscoe (Lee), a self-styled occult investigator. Stefan tries to tell him that his sister isn't really dead
that she is, in fact, a werewolf. Ben angrily blows Stefan off, thinking him a nutjob, but is later persuaded to meet with him by one of Karen's colleagues, journalist Jenny Templeton (Annie McEnroe). Jenny knows that her friend was killed under bizarre circumstances while working on a story and wants to get to the bottom of it.
    At his mansion in the hills above L.A. Stefan shows them a videotape of Karen's death. He tells them that she arranged her own demise after being bitten by a werewolf. The silver bullets used to kill her were removed during the autopsy, however, so the curse is still in effect. She can never rest in final peace unless Stefan finishes her off properly. He intends to visit her mausoleum that very night and do just that. Ben, a straight-talkin' cowboy type from Montana, still isn't convinced despite Jenny's willingness to keep an open mind. ("How can you listen to this bull?") But seeing is believing. Arriving at Karen's tomb to stop Stefan from violating her corpse, Ben sees his sister, covered in wolf fur, stirring within her coffin. Then he, Jenny are Stefan are jumped by werewolves lurking in the churchyard, come to remove a fellow lycanthrope from consecrated ground. After fighting off their attackers and freeing Karen's soul from damnation, Stefan explains that the battle has only just begun. A special time is approaching when all werewolves reveal themselves, when their evil witch-queen
the millennia-old Stirba (Danning) will be at the pinnacle of her powers. She must be tracked down and destroyed using the only weapon that can slay her, a blade forged from titanium. Ben and Jenny pledge themselves to Stefan's holy cause.
    The bloody trail will lead them to the wilds of Transylvania...
    Although it starts promisingly enough Howling II wastes little time before jamming the accelerator to the floor, plowing through the guardrail in fifth gear and plunging headlong into the abyss. Only those survivors responsive to massive intravenous doses of cheese will emerge unscathed
the film truly is so pathetically awful that it's hilarious. The 'howling' here comes not from the werewolves onscreen but rather the schlock-loving viewer, spurred to mirthful derision by the wretched dialog ("I told ya we'd get these fuzzballs!"), goofy situations (werewolf sex!) and silly, over-the-top gore effects. (The dwarf with the exploding eyeballs is a real gas.) The lame monster makeup/suits compare unfavorably to those seen in the original Howling, so for the most part director Philippe Mora (The Beast Within) wisely keeps the creatures in the shadows; mainly we just see tight close-ups of blood squibs detonating on puppet heads and edged weapons poked into swatches of ratty-looking fur. Less wise is the hamfisted use of supposedly clever flash forward/backwards editing, piled on ad nauseum and at times leading to utter confusion. (Footage from an earlier bar scene in Los Angeles is intercut with a werewolf orgy at Stirba's castle, as if to suggest that punk band Babel was hired and flown out to Transylvania for the lycanthropic bacchanal.) What little genuine atmosphere there is comes from some nice location shooting in rural Czechoslovakia, a fine stand-in for that "dark country" of legend. It's all wasted, though, as by the time the werewolf-hunting trio arrives there the movie has veered into campy humor not a bit of which works. (This flick is only funny when it's not trying to be.)
    And what of our cast? Sexploitation star Sybil Danning (Malibu Express) struts through the movie in ridiculous cleavage-bearing S&M outfits more appropriate for Barbarella (or a Cher concert) than a horror film. Three years before his infamous turn in Space Mutiny, Reb Brown demonstrates just where his signature battle cry of "Yeaaaaaaagh!"
hollered every time he fires a gun, just before pulling the trigger first originated. Then there's the great Christopher Lee. Somehow the venerable cult film legend is able to maintain his dignity throughout this thing, even when donning skinny punk rock sunglasses (going incognito at a night club) or delivering lines so dumb one can sense him wincing with distaste. A true professional, Lee doesn't turn in a bad performance merely because the material is beneath him. Not for the first time he is the steady, unyielding rock around which flows a raging torrent of cheese.

A "flipper" disc, MGM's Howling II DVD offers both an anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen and fullframe transfer, one version per side. Compared to previous VHS incarnations and cable TV broadcasts the film has never looked this good before now you can actually tell what's going on during the outdoor night scenes. (Within the limits of coherence imposed by the editing, that is.) The Dolby mono audio is quite satisfactory although it would've been nice, given the kitschy (but catchy) techno-punk music, to have a new 5.1 Surround mix. A Spanish language track is available should you want to hear Christopher Lee solemnly invoking the horrors of werewolfery in another actor's voice speaking en español.
    The only extra included is the theatrical trailer, under the unused title Howling II: It's Not Over Yet. While it would've been cool to have a commentary track with Lee and Sybil Danning I seriously doubt they'd have wanted to participate even had the offer been made. The embarrassment factor's got to be pretty high. 8/30/05
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