Wednesday, October 9, 2013

HOWLING II: YOUR SISTER IS A WEREWOLF (1985)


SYNOPSIS: This opens with a scene (that seems tragically reminiscent of Ed Wood-era Bela Lugosi) featuring Christopher Lee reading religious texts to a skeleton in space.  After this overture, we attend Karen White's funeral, only to learn later that the silver bullets shot into her were removed, allowing her to return from death as a werewolf.  This info is relayed by Lee's character, an occult investigator named Stefan.  He's out to destroy the queen of werewolves, Stirba (the buxotic Sybil Danning).  Joining him in this quest are Karen White's brother from Montana, a co-worker with a whimsical pixie/lesbian haircut, and a Soviet Bloc dwarf.

WHAT WORKED:

Not gonna lie, this is an undeniably bad film by any measure.  It goes all in on the campy, silly humor that THE HOWLING sometimes tapped, but very occasionally the ridiculousness pays off in so-bad-it's-goodness.  Early instances include Christopher Lee's character having business cards that say OCCULT INVESTIGATOR on them and Karen White's brother wearing a cow head bolo tie to her funeral.  In one of the clunkiest bits of exposition ever, final girl Jenny tells him to "go back to your sheriff's office in Montana".


A cursory reading of the plot makes it clear that this HOWLING wasn't going to be a good film, no matter what, so it's sort of commendable that the screenwriters and director Philippe Mora included as much inane BS as they possibly could.  Like I've said hundreds of times, the only truly bad movies are boring movies and HOWLING II: YOUR SISTER IS A WEREWOLF is at least never boring.  It moves at a quick clip, constantly throwing ever more nonsense at the viewer.  I just cannot get over the inclusion of a dwarf, whose lines are completely incomprehensible, with the incredible single exception of "I LOST MY EARPLUGS!!!"


Is Marsha A. Hunt a Christopher Lee-level actress?  Nope.  Is she good enough to take over the sexy-werewolf role from the Marsha of the original HOWLING?  Sure.  She's smoking hot and pulls off menacing in an unembarrassing way.  I mean, mostly.  


Of course, the sexiest of them all is the queen of werewolves, Stirba.  Fun fact: this movie was almost/also called HOWLING II: STIRBA - WEREWOLF BITCH.  Which subtitle do you prefer?  Send your essays to me by Halloween and you might win something.  Sybil Danning is pretty much the ideal person to play this role.  I'm not sure what the film's makers were going for, but Sybil Danning has the most of it.  Just like HOWLING was a product of its time, HOWLING II makes sure to scream, "We are in the Eighties!!!" at you whenever possible and said screaming often takes the form of Sybil Danning's wardrobe.  Sybil's always bags of fun and her screen time with Christopher Lee is entertaining, if not "good" in the classical sense of the word.


It goes both ways, but some of the werewolf effects don't look bad.  They look more like Bigfoots than werewolves, but that's okay.  Best of all, all of them are shot pretty quickly or smothered in darkness, so jokesters who watch movies to mock and bully them are going to have to find something else at which to sneer.  Good luck!


WHAT DIDN'T WORK:
Some of the werewolf effects.  Hey, we are mirroring again!  Most of this stuff is okay because it's only rapid glimpses or well-designed effects and costumes, but occasionally you get visions of the worst effects in BLACK ROSES or something.


The top of the Names of Shame list is reserved for whoever greenlit the new Karen White death footage.  They get a new actress to play Karen because, of course, Dee Wallace wasn't doing this film, lol.  But they even redid the final scene from the original film!  Original werewolf Karen looked like a giant purse dog and it was admittedly a bad effect.  But the redone one looks shitty as shit, like a sideshow freak from a Romanian village.


The Eighties were unkind to many classic English actors and this was Christopher Lee's turn in the stocks.  I'd still opt for HOWLING 2 over DEAD HEAT (poor Vincent), but Lee's usual gravid delivery just doesn't work for material that was ginned up by and for idiots.  The dialogue is mostly dead and the plot, even with the occasional lapse into joy, is also pretty lifeless.


Werewolf sex scene!  I think hair is pretty gross and the original film's werewolf sex scene/love scene was upsetting, but this one is just bleccch.  We spend way too much time watching a naked hairy Stirba watching two hirsutes bang.  Barf.


Looking back, HOWLING wasn't really a great or classic film, just a very good one with lots of flaws.  It's still incomprehensible that the sequel was allowed to develop into this mangled and goofy thing, which is mostly remembered now for the credits sequence.  In HOWLING II, Sybil Danning's character rips off her leather bodice and exposes her boobs.  This scene is repeated seventeen times during the end credits, intercut with assorted characters leering or giving eye-popping expressions.  When Sybil Danning saw it, she left the theater in tears.


Don't you cry, baby.

RATING: 4

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