Tuesday, June 23, 2015

HOWLING II: YOUR SISTER IS A WEREWOLF (1985)

HOWLING II: YOUR SISTER IS A WEREWOLF (1985)

Label Scream Factory 
Release Date: July 14th 2015
Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration: 91 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA Mono with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1)
Director: Philippe Mora
Cast: Reb Brown, Annie McEnroe, Christopher Lee, Sybil Danning, Marsha A. Hunt

This sequel picks-up just after the events of the first Howling movie, TV anchorwoman Karen White is dead following her transformation into a werewolf live on-camera during the nightly news broadcast, but apparently the entire episode has been swept under the rug and her lycanthropic revelation did not have the desired impact of exposing the world to the existence of werewolves. The movie opens with a very odd intro with Christopher Lee standing in front of a star field reading some cryptic passage all the while standing next to a medical skeleton. A very strange beginning for an oddball movie, and it sort of reminded me of the way Dune opens up with the narration only way ore confusing and weird.  

Then we're onto Karen's funeral which is attended by her brother Ben White (Red Brown, Captain America TV Move) and his girlfriend Jenny (Annie McEnroe, The Hand), a reporter. After the funeral Ben is approached by Stefan Crosscoe (Christopher Lee, The Whip and the Body), who introduces himself as an occult investigator, informing Ben that his sister is not actually dead, that she is a cursed werewolf and the only way for her to rest in peace is to stake her through the heart.  Ben doesn't take the news very well but his girlfriend Jenny seem keenly interested in what Crosscoe has to say, and soon enough the trio are headed for Transylvania to fight Stirba - the Werewolf Queen! Wait a minute ...Transylvania, stakes through the heart ... I thought this was a werewolf movie, one of the many oddities about Howling II is they way they throw a bunch of vampire tropes into the mix, which is an odd choice. 

Stirba is played by the busty and lusty Sybil Danning (Chained Heat) wearing a very 80s leather and brass get-up that wouldn't be out of place in a Stryper music video. Striba hosts a series of werewolf orgies at her castle, when she's not sucking the life force from virgins or making glowing crackles of electricity emanate from her fingertips. I love Sybil Danning but this role is overwrought and ridiculous, which is part of the movie's charm, overwrought and fun in a bad sort of way that manages to keep things entertaining, if confusing. 

She has a pair of minions named Vlad (Judd Omen, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure) and the black beauty Mariana (Marsha A. Hunt, who Mich Jagger penned "Brown Sugar" about), whom have a threesome with Stirba (Dannning) which is fantastically awful, the half-transformed lycanthropes are covered in hair, making the most ridiculous oh-faces you've ever seen, clawing at each other, and cooing ridiculously, the contorted faces in this movie are simply laugh-out-loud funny. 


Unfortunately the design of the werewolves owe more to monkeys than wolves and look awful, rightfully so they are kept in the dark or glimpsed only briefly. Knowing that these werewolves were awful I think the filmmakers knew they had to give us at least some decent gore, and we get very little. One of the best is when a midget's eyes explode in a spray of blood, and a priest is attacked by a gargoyle who chokes him with it's tail before crawling down throat, but honestly these are few and far between. Mora seems to be throwing everything and the kitchen sink onscreen into this mess of a movie, but nothing can save it. The final showdown between werewolf-hunter Crosscoe and the Queen of Werewolves Stirba is pretty damn awful, with the Werewolf Queen not transforming into a monstrous werewolf but instead using her occult powers to summon an awful 80's laser-light show which ends with both going up in flames in a less than spectacular fashion. 

Apparently this movie is so awful that Christopher Lee apologized to Joe Dante on the set of Gremlins 2 - The New Batch for having appeared in it - wow. Highlights are some strange but inconsistent atmosphere, some fun set design, and a werewolf who looks remarkably like Daryl Hall from the band Hall and Oates, plus a memorable new wave musical performance from Steve Pasrons with the song "Howling", but not even the prestige of Christopher Lee and the voluptuous nudity of Sybil Danning cannot save this stinker of a werewolf film. 

Audio/Video: Howling II arrives on Blu-ray from Scream Factory with a 1080p HD transfer framed in the original widescreen aspect ratio looking pretty good for the most part. The source material has some minor print damage, some specs of dirt and debris and a few small scratches, but the colors are solid through and through, the black levels are decent and skin tones look good -- and trust me -- there's a lot of skin to watch. The mono audio does the job nicely, music, dialogue and score are well balanced and free of distortion. Optional English subtitles are provided. 

This may not be an official Scream Factory Collector's Edition but it is packed with special features, beginning with a pretty great commentary with director Philippe Mora moderated by Michael Felsher of Red Shirt Pictures. A very candid commentary, speaking at length about shooting a film from behind the Iron Curtain in Czechoslovakia, offering up some real nuggets about the making of this very strange movie, a lot of which explains the strange feel of the film. There's a second commentary from Composer Steve Parsons And Editor Charles Bornstein which I have not gotten around to yet, but I think that the Mora commentary is fantastic,and worth the price of purchase by itself. 


There are also brand new interviews with actor Reb Brown and actress Sybil Danning who chime in on their experience making the film, both with kind words about working with the recently departed horror icon Christopher Lee, and Danning speaks about the infamous topless scene in the movie which is replayed over a dozen times in the film.   

Special Make-Up Effects Artists Steve Johnson And Scott Wheeler offer up a very candid set of interviews about the making of the movie and the set of challenges they faced, including applying hair appliances to actor Judd Omen's cock. Additionally there's some Behind The Scenes Footage, Alternate Opening And Alternate Ending, Theatrical Trailer and a Still Gallery, plus a reversible sleeve of artwork with new artwork from illustrator David Levine.  Scream Factory have gone above and beyond what this awful sequel might have deserved, packing it with loads of great extras. 

Special Features
- Audio Commentary With Director Philippe Mora
- Audio Commentary With Composer Steve Parsons And Editor Charles Bornstein
- Leading Man - An Interview With Actor Reb Brown (14 Mins) HD
- Queen Of The Werewolves - An Interview With Actress Sybil Danning (17 Mins) HD
- A Monkey Phase - Interviews With Special Make-Up Effects Artists Steve Johnson And Scott Wheeler (15 Mins) HD
- Behind The Scenes Footage (In HD - From Philippe Mora's Archive) (4 Mins)
- Alternate Opening 
(In HD – From Philippe Mora's Archive) (11 Mins) 
- Alternate Ending (In HD – From Philippe Mora's Archive) (10 Mins)
- Theatrical Trailer (1 Mins) HD
- Still Gallery (8 Mins) HD 


Howling II: Your Sister Is A Werewolf (1985) is a seriously confused and awful film, and one of the stranger horror sequels, but it does have some minor appeal. It has a strange atmosphere, and some decent lensing, plus Christopher Lee and Sybil Danning add some legitimacy to the production, but those awful werewolves are pretty hard to forgive, particularly when the first film had such great looking werewolves. I cannot recommend this to the average horror fan, not even if you loved the original film, I think you would have to be quite a bad movie fiend to find this one fun, and I guess I love bad movies because I enjoyed it and have for years. I'm hoping this moves a lot of units and Scream Factory pick-up Philippe Mora's sequel The Marsupials: The Howling III (1987) for release on Blu-ray. that Ozploitation take on the genre is one I absolutely love. 2.5/5

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