Friday, August 21, 2009

A Frank Review of "Howling 2: Your Sister is a Werewolf" (1985)

The Short Version? New wave vampires, except with werewolves.
What Is It? Horror Comedy
Who Is In It? Hammer Dracula. Sybil Danning.
Should I See It? Probably not, but just maybe.

I've never seen The Howling all the way through, though I was traumatized by its movie poster and knew the basics. It revolutionized the werewolf of the 1980s, moving away from the tired old Wolf Man toward a more unnerving hybrid that influenced everything that came after. As I stopped being a sissy boy, not to mention experienced the onset of puberty, I held Howling's oversexed sequel in my sweaty little hands at the video store. Imagine being a young hormonal wreck, anxiously awaiting the promised lupine orgy, and getting... well, a friggin' lupine orgy. I grew up on '70s bush, but that shit was b-a-n-a-n-a-s.

Billed as "the rocking, shocking new wave of horror," Howling 2's tagline was derived from the awful club/punk fashions on display and the Bauhaus wannabes whose theme song will stick in your brain for the rest of your life. To a large degree its actually quite old fashioned, opening with Christopher Lee as a Van Helsing type reading from a sacred text about the harlots and the evil of the world, all against a corny bluscreen starscape. Lee then hangs out in cemeteries, making ominous proclamations and burning through as little screen time as possible to earn a paycheck/top billing. That's a shame, as only Lee has the gravitas to pull this sham together, completely convincing in every word he speaks. However, whom he's speaking to is Reb Brown, best known as the Captain America of the '70s, with a Southern drawl too thick to cut with a butter knife. He's the brother of the original movie's star, and investigating his sister's death with her co-worker/androgynous anorexic love disinterest Annie McEnroe. The trio pull the Mina Harker shift, then travel to Transylvania to confront the queen of the werewolves. Yes, really. IMDb lists the original title as Howling II: Stirba - Werewolf Bitch, which should clue you in to the Eurotrash bag of shitballs crazy this movie becomes.

Okay, there's a Nubian princess werewolf who, like most of the lupine here, thinks she signed on for a vampire movie instead. Perhaps she was distraught over having lost the lead in Vamp to Grace Jones, and signed on here without due consideration. This might explain why she only transforms once, and the filmmakers just rerun the same footage over and over. She kills a bunch of punks just to give the gorehounds something to bide their time.

An old woman sucks the lifeforce from some dame at a cult orgy and becomes B-queen D-cup Sybil Danning in awkward bondage gear. Danning is the sorcerous queen of the werewolves, which grants her the privilege of a semi-werewolf menage a trois with the black chick and a gypsy dude. This goes on for days, continuity and anything resembling actual sex be damned. How can werewolves have sex without at least simulated doggy style, I ask you? Also, for some reason Danning keeps jerking her hands like she's working through arthritis. Danning casts a bunch of spells during the movie, which involves PBS budget special effects and speaking in tongues while wearing Terminator glasses. Needless to say, Danning's tits are the main draw, everyone knows it, and this is why they're exposed on a loop throughout the closing credits. For serious. The other orgy-goers are so unarousing, they might as well be on National Georgraphic.

Director Philippe Mora is the spiritual ancestor to the mad Dr. Uwe Boll. His favorite technique, used repeatedly in every god forsaken scene, is to have characters flashback to an earlier scene for a few seconds. It successfully pads the running time, and is sort of retard stylin'. Reusing footage gets way out of hand at times though, like the same terrible transformation effects being repeated, and the synth band from L.A. still playing at the same club intercut with action in Transylvania. It's wretched, but a warm, gooey, microwaved guilty pleasure as such.

I don't want to spoil too much more, because this shit has got to be seen to be disbelieved. Keywords include zombie midget, exploding eyeballs, worst wig ever, priest fellates gargoyle, silver immunity, worst sex scenes ever, titanium stakes, blood marinate and longest running werewolf series to hardly ever feature werewolves. It's so absolutely ludicrous, I cannot believe it wasn't intentional, and everyone involved seems to be having a blast. Even Lee's grave tones seem designed to provide chuckles just through the force of will to play this insanity straight. It takes something that could have been unwatchable and made it a very guilty pleasure.

For more, try here.


wiec? said...

what's funny is as soon as i title of this post i thought "is the one where at the end they kept showing that scene where a lady whips her top off over and over and over?" glad you solved the mystery.

i too saw this at a young age and now have to rewatch it appreciate how "not hot" it is with a pair of older eyes.

Diabolu Frank said...

Also-- wimpiest werewolves yet!


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