Christopher Lee - Stefan
Sybil Danning - Stirba
Reb Brown - Ben White
Annie McEnroe - Jenny Templeton
Marsha Hunt - Marina
Judd Omen - Vlad
Year - 1985
Score - 1 Howl Outta 4
Out of all the sub-genres in all of horror, the werewolf seems to have been given the sharpest and deepest shaft when it comes to quality in film. I mean honestly, how many GOOD werewolf movies can you count on one hand? You got THE WOLF MAN. You got AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. You got WOLFEN. You got SILVER BULLET. You got GINGER SNAPS. You got [in a sense] UNDERWORLD. And then you have THE HOWLING, a film I personally love but others just mildly like or don’t like at all. I mean, how can anyone not appreciate the cutest werewolf in cinema history at the end of the film where Dee Wallace Stone transforms in front of her news crew and the entire country? Anyway, I just listed seven werewolf films that were good. If anyone else has any more they’d like to bring up, please debate away.
Anyway, THE HOWLING has the distinction of being the one horror franchise whose sequels just get worse and worse as they’re released. Or so from what I’ve heard. To be quite honest with you, I’ve never seen any of the sequels. I’ve seen clips here and there, but I’ve never watched a HOWLING sequel in full. Until now, when I finally caught THE HOWLING II: YOUR SISTER IS A WEREWOLF on cable. And I gotta say, now I know why I avoided these sequels for as long as I have. This film is terrible.
"Duh, Fred. Reb Brown and Sybil Danning are in it. Der!"
Yeah yeah inner voice. I deserve that. But you know something? If they’re all unintentionally as funny as this one was, I might actually check out the rest of these HOWLING films. This film had me laughing from beginning to end...for all the wrong reasons.
Taking place right after the first THE HOWLING, the film starts off with the funeral of Karen White (who’s not played by Dee Wallace Stone in this film but by someone who looks NOTHING like her!). If you’ve seen the ending of the first film, Karen turned into a werewolf as she was reporting the news and was shot to death. However, her death is exaggerated as a werewolf hunter named Stefan (Christopher Lee) believes she’s still immortal. Stefan warns Karen’s brother Ben (Reb Brown) and Karen’s old co-worker Jenny (Annie McEnroe) about this. Jenny believes Stefan but Ben is unconvinced until Stefan happens to find the only tape depicting Karen’s death and turn into a werewolf. Not only is this totally coincidental but the tape even does slow motion tricks as Karen gets murdered. Ben still refuses to believe that his sister is a werewolf until Karen awakes from her casket attempting to murder Stefan, to which Ben shoots her and kills her.
Meeting Stefan as a club that plays the same New Wave song over and over again [Stefan wears sunglasses to disguise himself from the werewolves that frequent the place], Ben learns that Stirba (Sybil Danning), the queen bitch of werewolves plans to celebrate her tenth millennium of immortality. To celebrate this momentous occassion, all werewolves will gather together to wreak havoc on all unsuspecting victims all over the world. Stirba, who looks older than any of the Golden Girls, sucks the life of some young woman to regain her youth, looking hot with a voluptuous body and having orgies with other werewolves. Gaining strength, Stefan, Ben, Jenny, and some midget [oh...the 80s] travel to Transylvania to take down Stirba.
I have three words for THE HOWLING II: YOUR SISTER IS A WEREWOLF:
WHAT THE FUCK!?
HOWLING II is one of those films that is so bad that it’s actually quite entertaining as hell to watch. The summary I wrote above makes the film seem perfectly watchable. But as you watch it, you realize how dumb, strange, and inexplicable this sequel really is. I know horror sequels aren’t usually as good as the original film, but this sequel is such a drop in quality from the first one that it gives you motion sickness. It just boggles my mind. How can anyone screw up a werewolf movie? Watch this film to find out!
There are so many bad things with THE HOWLING II that I don’t even know where to begin. Let’s start with the story, or what is called "the story". It doesn’t make any sense for the most part. I appreciate the fact that after releasing this film four years after the original, the story continues after Karen’s transformation. However, Dee Wallace Stone was smart enough not to be a part of this film, but that ruins her character in this movie. One, the actress who plays nu-Karen looks nothing like Dee Wallace Stone. Stone is blonde while the new actress is brunette. Plus, the whole transformation scene is re-enacted really badly. In the original THE HOWLING, Karen was cute white werewolf. Here, she looks like a reject from THE PLANET OF THE APES. And she’s brown! The filmmakers couldn’t even get the color straight! Good God I was cracking up watching that go down. That’s not the only horrible stuff. Characters popped up out of nowhere. Werewolves could get killed by regular gunshots and titanium swords and stakes. They live in Transylvania. And they love orgies and don’t do much killing. What kind of movie is this? It was like a decently budgeted softcore horror flick but with worse sex scenes and acting. How is that possible?
The characters are all pretty terrible in this film. The two leads, Ben and Jenny, are so boring that I was hoping they would die horrible deaths. I knew NOTHING about these characters. Well, that’s not entirely true. I learned that Ben screams every time he shoots a gun as if he’s ejaculating, says the dumbest things, and has sex standing up with his jeans on. And I learned that Jenny is completely gullible, likes kinky sex, and needs to eat a burger because that salad diet ain’t doing her justice. Then you have the midget, which says alot in itself. Then the werewolves, who do nothing but dance to New Wave music, growl at each other, and have sex. Man, I love being a wolf sometimes. That menage a trois scene is something to be seen. Your stomach will probably ache just watching how absurd it is. Now I know why most European woman are hairy - they’re all wolves! Anyone opening a waxing business there would be set for life. Anyway, the two developed characters are Stefan and Stirba, but even they were lacking in the character development department. Stefan was the mystery guy who knew it all and Stirba liked showing off her, ahem, assets with tight dresses. Stefan and Stirba also had some kind of incestuous thing going on there supposedly as well, which was never explored.
WHY BRING IT UP THEN!?
The dialogue was also terrible. Kindergarteners could write a better script than Gary Brandner and Robert Sarno. Yeah, I called those two idiots out. It’s as if they wrote this in another language, used that Alta Vista translator for English, and came up with this bullshit. I couldn’t stop laughing at what these people were saying. I wanted to smack all of them in the face. Thanks to this film, I now know that when a woman wants to be held when she’s scared, she really wants to be banged hard against a wall. No wonder I haven’t been scoring lately. It’s got to be heard to be appreciated, that’s for sure. I really hope the actors were in on the joke because no one in their right mind could have believed this script was any good. If they did, God help them all.
And then there were other things that made no sense. Like blessed ear plugs that prohibit Stirba’s spell from blowing up your head. What the hell? And it only seemed to effect the midget. What, the vertically challenged can only handle a certain level of decibels? Are they dogs? I didn’t get it. Plus why are werewolves hanging out in Transylvania? Isn’t that Vampire Country? Plus it’s not even called Transylvania anymore, but Romania [which was filmed in Czechoslovakia]. Obviously someone didn’t take Geography or History in school. Plus I thought werewolves could only be killed by anything silver. Yet these people used regular gunpowder and titanium weapons. More specifically, stakes. What the...? Is this a vampire film or a werewolf film? God my head hurts.
And adding more to my headache, there are the so-called special effects. Wow. That’s all I can say about them. They’re just so cheesy. The transformation scenes in the original THE HOWLING were very impressive for their time. Hell, it beats any kind of werewolf CGI that’s out now. But THE HOWLING II? Oh man, I’ve never laughed so hard in my life. The werewolves looked like hairy people with bad plastic surgery. That’s it really. They didn’t really have long snouts or anything like that. They looked like people in costumes with a bad make-up job. And every time a werewolf was killed, the same sequence was used. Plus we have Stirba using her magic, or should I say laser show because that’s what it looked like. Let’s not forget the midget who’s eyes pop out of its socket [you can tell it was a rubber doll or something] and the ALIEN homage with the bat-like creature popping out of his mouth. It’s just so amateur that it actually reminded me of TROLL 2. Yeah, that bad.
Director [and I use that term loosely] Philippe Mora does a really poor, yet entertaining, job behind the camera. It’s obvious he’s trying to tell the viewers a decent story here, with a representation of good and evil through the festival in Transylvania where people dance the night away wearing masks and watching plays where wolf puppets scare and eat human puppets. It’s as if Mora is trying to say that we all have a beast inside of all of us dying to be released and that these werewolves aren’t really evil, but they’re our id. But you wouldn’t get that through his direction, since every shot seems to be either people reacting to something or objects that have nothing to do with the scene they’re edited into. I mean, what does a shot of a random town statue have to do with people walking in the woods? Huh? And what about those night-and-day transitions? And how about those random scene transitions where the frame would form a circle and fade into the next scene? I thought I was watching a sitcom or something. And the action scenes in the film are just badly shot and paced. It’s like experiencing an acid trip. You can’t make much sense of anything and it doesn’t let up. And someone let this dude direct THE HOWLING III: THE MARSUPIALS. No wonder this franchise went into the shitter.
The acting is just as horrible as the rest of the film. Poor Christopher Lee, the only decent actor in the film. What was he thinking? Did he need the cash that bad? He actually looks ashamed to be even associated with this film. As a matter of fact, when Lee was cast in GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH, he apologized to director Joe Dante [who had directed the original THE HOWLING] for being a part of this film. Wow, that says alot. He tries to make the film classier than it had any right to be, but not even he has the power to do that. Reb Brown, who’s better known for his role as Captain America and in the infamous SPACE MUTINY, is as bland as they come. He can’t deliver lines straight and tries to use his muscular physique to do the work for him. At least he knew he was a bad actor. If only Jessica Simpson would get the hint. Annie McEnroe was even worse than Reb Brown as Jenny, who stated comments as if they were questions. And she would talk in this perky voice while attempting to be sultry, which she was nowhere close to being. I was hoping someone would murder her character. ANNOYING!
And then you have Sybil Danning as the Werewolf Bitch, Stirba. My, oh my. She’s such a horrible actress, but she has two wonderful assets as her disposal. Don’t believe me? Watch the end credits where they show her ripping off her top SEVENTEEN TIMES in the span of 3 minutes. It’s the best part of the film! Acting wise, editing wise, and entertainment wise, the ending rocks! That New Wave band plays that catchy song that pops up like ten times in the film [I’ve heard of one hit wonders, but bands with just one song are pathetic] and you see Danning display those beauties as reaction shots from other characters throughout the film preceding it are edited right after for comedic effect. I actually watched it five times in a row. It’s just brilliant filmmaking and Mora knew exactly what the best part of his film was. Thank you very much, sir! And thank you Ms. Danning for sharing yourself with us. My penis greatly appreciated it.
And even though I pretty much bashed this film, it’s still a lot more entertaining than most good films I’ve seen. I couldn’t stop watching this film. I needed to know how it would end. It’s so compellingly bad that it’s actually good on an entertainment scale! This is definitely a film to share with your friends during a drunken night and just goof on. A bad film with a purpose - who knew?
THINGS I WAS TRYING TO LEARN BUT SYBIL DANNING’S BREASTS KEPT DISTRACTING ME
1. Werewolves love 80s New Wave music. Yep, I’ve always been down with the Wave. And people thought "The Wolf" was just a nickname. Howl!
2. Marina howls like she’s taking a mean dump. At least it matches the acting in this film.
3. They showed a reenactment of Karen’s transformation and murder from the end of THE HOWLING. It was so laughingly bad that SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE is dying to find out who was behind it to make the show funny again.
4. Ben vows that no one will stick a stake into his dead sister. Unfortunately, the mortician already did. Necrophilia...mmmm...
5. Ben likes to scream everytime he shoots at someone. Boy, the neighbors must be annoyed every night he brings a girl home.
6. Werewolves love kinky threesomes. Yep, I’ve always been down with three ways. I’d like to be the meat in that werewolf sandwich. Growl!
7. Ben has sex with his jeans on. Thank you for sparing me the sight of your red, white, and blue ass there, Reb!
8. The midget gave Ben earplugs to wear that were blessed or something. I wish I had some so I could block out the film’s awful dialogue.
9. Stirba’s sound spell made the midget’s eyes pop out of his head. I feel the same way every time I hear Heidi Montag sing.
10. Some priest got killed by some rubber bat-like creature. I thought rubber was supposed to protect you, not harm you. I’m so confused...
THE FINAL HOWL
THE HOWLING II: YOUR SISTER IS A WEREWOLF is one of those films that I would greatly recommend to anyone if they:
a) want to see what a horrible film looks like [it’s actually 93 on IMDB.com’s Bottom 100 voted films]
b) want a really good laugh.
It’s just a bizarre film to experience from beginning to end. It doesn’t make any sense and it seems like the story was created by throwing crap to a wall and seeing how the crap would come together as it slid down the wall. Still, it’s actually quite charming and appealing for some strange reason other than watching Sybil Danning disrobe eighteen times [using the same clip over and over again] to put a smile on your mindfucked face. If you love bad films whose highlight are a pair of perfect breasts, this is your film. If not, stick to the original THE HOWLING. I will never forget this film for as long as I live. Sybil Danning didn’t turn me into a man but she makes me want to be a real werewolf. Sigh...I can’t wait for the next full moon.