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4/13/08

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I love werewolves, greatly prefer them too vampires, unfortunately they have a much weaker presence in film. Sadly, The Howling series, seven in all, constitutes a good chunk of the films from the last twenty years. American Werewolf in London remains the best werewolf film ever. I was pleasantly surprised by the fairly recent film Ginger Snaps, its sequels much less so. It had been a long time since I had seen any of the Howling films, and I don't believe I've ever seen Howling II: Your Sister's a Werewolf, so when it showed up on TV, I decided to check it out.

I was completely not expecting this flick. It is extremely surreal. They throw all logic out the window and turn these werewolves into complete sex-fiends, the humans chasing them aren't much more normal. But that's only a sliver of what makes it so weird. The film is edited in an extremely experimental manner, at least for a fairly mainstream film that had a wide theatrical release. The film moves along normally, then they suddenly cut to a random shot from earlier in the film, usually somebody changing into a wolf, but not always. As an editor, I found it refreshing, to see a horror film try something different. It doesn't always work, but it keeps it interesting, as you never know what you're going to see next.

Ben is attending his sister Karen's funeral, who died in the first film, when he's approached by Stefan Crosscoe, a Van Helsing type character, played by the classic Christoper Lee. Crosscoe tells him his sister is in fact a werewolf, and that she'll come back to life that night. Being a rational person, Ben dismisses him as a nut, but decides to make sure later that night. He witness her changing, just before Crosscoe drives a silver stake through her heart, and they're attacked by a gaggle of werewolves. That's it, Ben is pissed. He's ready to travel to Transylvania with Crosscoe to wipe out the monsters that did this to his sister. Ben's new girlfriend, a journalist and friend of his sister, comes along for the ride. They stay in a weird little town, in the heart of werewolf country.



The leader of the werewolves is Stirba, some-kind of 80's sexual goddess, played with full-on gusto by B-movie vixen Sybil Danning. She's by far the most interesting character in the film. Stirba doesn't have a lot to say, but she's either wearing the most outrageous costumes ever, ripping them open to expose her breasts or popping some poor midgets eyes out. She also has some kind of magical powers, and can bend any man or beast's will to do her bidding. I'm not sure what the hell is going on in this scene, but it appears she gets a vampire bat, to inseminate a priests mouth. If it wasn't for Stirba, this film wouldn't be worth watching, the original title of this film was in fact: Howling II: Stirba Werewolf Bitch - A much cooler and appropriate title.



This is in no way a good film, not even close, but it is undeniably entertaining. Sybil Danning's extreme performance as Stirba is the highlight. It's also great to see Christopher Lee in Van Helsing mode, kicking werewolf ass, and in one scene wearing a ridiculous 80's outfit. Actress Annie McEnroe, who plays the girlfriend role, is fun to watch, because she constantly has the expression of "I can't believe I'm in a movie!" It's also entertaining for the film-maker's decision to say "fuck it" and fill the film with weirdness, from the over-the-top gory effects, to the kinky werewolf sex, and random editing, best summed-up in the final credits (see below). If you love strange or bad movies or both, Howling II, should be considered a cult-classic. If you prefer your movies straight-up, stay far away. - As a film: Grade D - As a piece of surreal entertainment: Grade: B




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