A decline in quality with any long running franchise is not only inevitable but usually expected as every film series has at least one dud in it. However, it normally takes time for the rot to set in; for example, Rocky didn’t truly falter until his fifth outing and an aggressively “ok” second film buffered the genius of Jaws from the awesome crapness of Jaws 3 – but take into consideration the The Howling, Joe Dante’s impressive entry into the werewolf genre, that descended into camp chaos the second the first frame of Howling II ran through a movie projector.
Subtitled either Your Sister Is A Werewolf or Stirba: Werewolf Bitch (take your pick, they’re both impressively awful), Phillippe Mora’s sequel, according to the man himself, is supposed to be a satire – although of what, I’ll confess, I’m not entirely sure.
After the events of Karen White giving America a special special bulletin by transforming into what looked like a werewolf Yorkshire terrier before getting fatally shot with a silver bullet, her brother, a human brick of meat going by the name of Ben, tries to come to terms with her death. That’s not exactly going to be easy considering intense occult investigator Stefan Crosscoe turns up at her funeral to explain that not only was his sister a werewolf, but due to the silver bullet being removed during an autopsy, she’s resurrected and needs re-killing while she’s still in her coffin. After fighting off a gang of werewolves who usually frequent clubs where Nu-Wave rock bands seemingly play the same three songs all night, Stefan, Ben and one of his sister’s colleagues Jenny (who looks – and acts – like a Waxwork of Jaime Lee Curtis), realise that to end this werewolf plague they have to travel to Transylvania and lock horns with the lycanthope queen, Stirba, a pneumatic, statuesque blonde with a cleavage you could park a bike in.
However, Stirba knows that they’re coming because she’s all magic and shit, so Stefan, Ben and Jenny team up with some highly expendable locals to storm her castle while she and her fuzzy subjects indulge themselves in what’s possibly their fifth orgy of the day.
Girding themselves to weather an avalanche of gore, magic, overly shaggy wolf men and more werewolf orgies that can possibly be healthy, our heroes have to face the unenviable task of making it to the end of this turkey with their lives – and careers – intact.
Shot behind the Iron Curtain in Prague in 1984, you get the impression that the story behind the making of Howling II is probably far more entertaining than the story that features in the film, but to give this slice of rubbery, 80’s nonsense it’s due – one criticism that certainly can’t be leveled at it is that its dull.
Director Phillippe Mora wasn’t a stranger to bizarre transforming monster movies with an overt sexual thread thanks to the hibernating rape-creature from The Beast Within, but Howling II takes things to a whole other level by possibly being one of the most bizarre werewolf films ever made – until he went and made marsupial werewolves in part III…
Starting with Christopher Lee slut shaming Stirba during a grave, pre-credits monologue and ending with a clip of shapely actress Sybil Danning disrobing replayed seventeen times over the end credits, the movie, with all of it’s orgies and nudity seems to have the voracious sex drive of the cooked up lead singer an 80’s metal band, but while Dante’s original may have floated the idea of werewolves being super horny with a certain sense of tongue in cheek, Mora seems to think it gives him carte blanche to go full steam into a sort of super cheap Eye’s Wide Shut with extra body hair. The entire enterprise seems drenched in doggy love musk, with one moment featuring a werewolf smelling Ben and Jenny having sex in their hotel bedroom from the town square to the infamous werewolf threesome scene where the dude is covered with hair despite still have male pattern baldness and no one actually touches each other because the fake werewolf follicles would actually fall out.
Turning a hose on the whole erotic wolf-people thing is the “thespian” talents of human breeze block Reb Brown, who previously lit up the screen with his undeniable charisma in such movies as Space Mutiny and Strike Commando and who strides through the film swathed in ungodly amounts of denim while doing his patented move of screaming awkwardly while firing a gun. Still, it’s actually nice to see him reunited with Chris Lee considering they where enemies in the second Captain America TV movie from the 70’s and despite cinema’s greatest Dracula being up for pretty much anything, scenes like the legendary thespian trying to blend in at a rock bar in a brown leather jacket and wrap around Ray bands means he frequently looks as uncomfortable as if he was suffering the worst case of haemorrhoids in medical history.
And yet the film still piles on the randomness at an impressive rate – Mora, apparently confusing werewolves with vampires, has them living in a castle in Transylvania, killed by a silver stake and hy water and even has them casting spells, Bela Lugosi style, that cause the eyes of a little person to explode. Stirba, dressed in a stunning outfit that makes her look like Evil-Lynn from Masters Of The Universe has a side gig as a dominatrix, attacks a priest by having the gargoyle mounted on her staff come alive and mouth fuck him to death with its tail. Reb Brown utters lines in monotone like “He’s not sticking a stake in my dead sister!” like he’s auditioning for Scorsese. A group of biker thugs lead by Jimmy Nail (of all people) get massacred by werewolves at the start of the movie for literally no reason.
And it goes on…
However, whether by design or by accident (Mora claims the former while I’m more inclined to suggest the latter) Howling II’s dedication to being as idiotically random as humanly possible means that even though I’ve seen better film resting on an oil spill, it’s actually an utter blast of hilarious awfulness that needs to be seen to be disbelieved.
Love bad movies? Try wolfing this shit down.