Set shortly after the events of the first film, Reb Brown plays the brother of Dee Wallace Stone’s doomed reporter, as he tries to work out what happened to her (Didn’t he see the news?). He is joined by reporter girlfriend Annie McEnroe and a werewolf hunter/occult expert named Stefan Crosscoe (Christopher Lee), who claims the dead woman must be given a titanium stake to the heart (Not wooden, not silver, but titanium!) or else she’ll rise again as a vamp...er...undead werewolf, I guess. Meanwhile, Sybil Danning stars as an ancient werewolf queen named Stirba, who is holding a werewolf orgy in Transylvania. No, I’m not kidding. Judd Omen plays Stirba’s offsider/minion, whilst musician Jimmy Nail and European genre actor Ferdy Mayne have small parts.
The sequels to “The Howling” got seriously weird and have for many tarnished the name of the first film, which I consider to be the best werewolf movie ever made, alongside the 1941 film “The Wolf Man”. This 1985 film from Aussie director Philippe Mora (“The Beast Within”, the awful “Howling III: The Marsupials”) is regarded by many as the worst of the sequels. It’s certainly among the biggest shifts in tone and concept of any sequel I’ve seen (It’s British, and there’s lots of awful New Wave/punk music in it, for instance). It is not, however, a contender for worst film of all-time in my view. Watch this film and then watch “Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan”, “Equus”, or “Nightmare on Elm St. 2: Freddy’s Revenge”, and tell me “Howling II” belongs in the top 10 worst films of all-time. Top 100, definitely, but let’s keep things in perspective. I mean, at least it’s memorable and interestingly stupid, and makes good use of Christopher Lee’s booming voice (Lee gives the film’s opening narration). He deserved a special kind of Oscar for acting in this film with a straight face (He later apologised to “Howling” director Joe Dante for this sequel to his film). Believe me, it wouldn’t have been an easy task, this is insane up to ying-yang. The man is a truly great actor, just see this film as proof.
Exploitation queen Sybil Danning, meanwhile, is perfectly fine under seriously stupid circumstances. Her disrobing scene is one of three memorable scenes in the film. Her tits are awesome, something I’ve wanted to see ever since she nearly burst out of her costume in “Battle Beyond the Stars”. She has one of the most impressive chests in cinema, and is the second best actor here behind Lee. Way behind Lee, but second best nonetheless. Also memorable is the werewolf ménage-a-trois. Yes, a werewolf ménage-a-trois, complete with hairy werewolf titties. Believe me, folks, you have not lived until you’ve seen hairy werewolf titties. Having said that, Mora should’ve been drawn and quartered for giving us a threesome with Sybil Danning (whose wardrobe is wondrous as usual) that isn’t even remotely sexy. How does that happen? Once again, hairy werewolf titties. Also worth mentioning is a bit with a priest and a bat/gargoyle creature that completely defies explanation.
The setting (and set design) and local gypsy flavour also come across really strong in the film (Despite being filmed in Czechoslovakia, not Romania). Best of all (or at least funniest) is that Danning’s big disrobing scene gets repeated like 10 times in the end credits. I’d have loved that as a 14 year-old, but now it’s just hilarious.
There’s lots of lessons to be learnt in this film: Reb Brown, for instance, can’t act worth a living shit (And he was clearly only cast for his slight resemblance to Christopher Stone from the original film). Christopher Lee, meanwhile, apparently buys his sunglasses from the same shop the Lords of Death from “Big Trouble in Little China” frequent. Director Mora could learn a thing or two as well, including never using red titles/captions. Never. Oh, and Mr. Mora, vampires and werewolves aren’t the same fucking thing. Mora has created the most vampiric lycanthrope movie I’ve ever seen to the point where you have to wonder if someone isn’t playing a practical joke on Christopher Lee, who probably thought he’d washed his hands of the Dracula series. The sexualisation of the werewolves seems more fitting of vampires, and here werewolves get killed by a stake through the heart. Um, what? If Mora wanted to make a New Wave vampire movie like “The Hunger” then why is he directing a film called “Howling II”? Some will like the prog rock soundtrack here, but it’s not to my taste. We even get garlic and fangs throughout the film. I know werewolves have teeth too, but c’mon, this is just stupid. And to top it all off, the film largely takes place in Transylvania. Fuck me dead. No wonder Hemdale films went bust before long, with terrible films like this. I dunno, maybe all the vampire stuff was intentionally inappropriate, but even then...why? It’s stupid and unfunny.
The whole film is shoddy, really. Most of the werewolf stuff is kept in close-ups and the werewolf transformation is done via montage, which just isn’t acceptable, at least not the way it is done here. It just comes off as too disjointed and cheap. The guy whose eyes literally pop out of his head is amusing, if completely unconvincing. Nice severed arm, too. In fact, the whole film is nice and gory, certainly moreso than the original. The film’s tenuous connection to the original is cheaply done too. They simply redo the end of the first film with different (and presumably less pricey) actors, in unconvincing fashion. Aside from the FX, the film does have nice, foggy cinematography by Geoffrey Stephenson (“The House That Cried Murder”), and a Hammer Horror aesthetic (graveyards, churches, etc) that makes it look a little less cheap than other areas of the film might (strongly) suggest.
The film is in a terrible, fucked up way, kinda compelling. It’s certainly never dull, and it’s...something. It’s insane and far too fascinating for me to hate it, and yet it’s a bad film. That makes it awfully hard to grade. It’d make an interesting double-bill with “Shock Treatment”. Well, in theory. “Shock Treatment” is boring as hell. I don’t know why this is called “Howling II”, or why the subtitle was changed from the ridiculous “Your Sister is a Werewolf” to the batshit insane “Stirba: Werewolf Bitch”, I don’t even know what the hell this is. It’s...it’s...inexplicable.
Stupid, cheap, insane, horribly acted...and I kinda enjoyed every minute of it. Not in a good way, not quite in an Ed Wood way, no this film is in a special category of WTF all of its very own. Watch it for the werewolf titties. You know you want to. The screenplay is by Gary Brandner (who wrote the novel the original “Howling” largely ignored) and Robert Sarno, from Brandner’s own novel.
Rating: Um...It’s on a level of crap impossible to quantify.