Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf (1984)

...aka: Howling II: Bark at the Moon
...aka: Howling II: It's Not Over Yet
...aka: Howling II: She-Wolf
...aka: Stirba - Werewolf Bitch

Directed by:
Philippe Mora

After the assumed death of Karen White at the end of the first film, her bland, big hunk of a brother Ben (Reb Brown) shows up at the funeral looking for answers and meets up with "cult investigator" and werewolf expert Stefan Crosscoe (Christopher Lee), who has his own business card and says, "There are great numbers of werewolves living among us!" The two team up with Jenny (Annie McEnroe), a TV news anchor, Pulitzer Prize hopeful and former co-worker of Karen's, and end up heading overseas to Transylvania to try to wipe out a cult of werewolves located there. International sex goddess Sybil Danning is sexy lycanthrope leader Stirba, who is approaching her 1000th birthday. Sybil (whose voice is often electronically altered) has one topless scene, is seen in a silly fur suit and fake fangs and likes to have threesome wolf sex with her dedicated male henchman Vlad (Judd Omen) and topless black "daughter" Mariana (Marsha A. Hunt). And then there's an unexpected revelation about Lee's character. I won't give it away, just to say Danish dish Danning and British legend Lee (who both deserve better material that this) do not make convincing siblings, but the casting director gets a gold (eh, titanium?) star for the idea.

To be fair, HOWLING II has an OK opening ten minutes or so, some great-looking sets, good location work (it was filmed on location in Czechoslovakia) and plenty of blood, gore and highly variable special effects (by the usually reliable Steve Johnson and cronies), but the writing is the worst and many of the performances are just plain terrible. While blonde muscle bound dullard Brown (who played Hercules in Italy and Captain America in some American made-for-TV movies) may be sufficient eye candy to some, McEnroe just fails to generate anything other than annoyance with her mushroom haircut and squeaky voice. Danning has one of those can't-miss-in-theory roles that somehow manages to completely miss the potential for campy entertainment value. Many consider this Lee's worst genre role, but he comes across fine as always. A highlight (for me, at least) was seeing Lee, dressed in sunglasses and a leather jacket, hanging out in a then-trendy club listening to the Euro punk band Babel (whose song is repeated at least four times). Speaking of repetitive...check out how many times Sybil's topless scene is repeated during the end credits. Ferdinand "Ferdy" Mayne (THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS) and Jimmy Nail both have smalls role as well.

Score: 3 out of 10


spookyx3 said...

FANGO #72: brandner is asked how he became involved with "one of the worst horror films ever made."

"'oh, i have to groan as i answer this! [laughs] i was involved because my contract stated that to get the film rights i also had to do the first-draft screenplay. and i wanted to do it, because, being kind of hollywood-naive at the time, i thought it would be exciting to write my own movie. so i did. ... at a screening, danning ran out in tears because they kept flapping her breasts like that! that was their best shot, so they repeated it [laughs]. oh, well. what i wrote ain't what's up on the screen. but i can tell you some of the reasons why the screenplay was so badly screwed up. first, i wrote a pretty straight movie version of my book for the producers, and they said, 'gee, this is nice, gary, but we just got a bunch of money from some spanish people, and they'd like a percentage of the film to be shot in spain." of course, the story took place in los angeles and mexico, but i said, 'OK, i can do that.' so i moved everything to spain. and then they said, 'oh, one more thing: fernando rey is a good buddy of the producer, and he'd like a part written for rey.' and i had no fernando rey character, but again i said, 'OK, what the hell? i'll write rey in.' i gave them another draft, and they said, 'gosh, gary, this is nice, too, but you know what? the spanish money just dropped out, and we're going to film in yugoslavia.' i had a book commitment by that time, so it was goodbye for me. they brought in another screenwriter, rewrote the script, took the production to yugoslavia, ran out of money, spent about $12 on special effects, filmed it mostly in the dark so nobody would notice, and that's the last i know about that one.'"

the rest of the interview makes brandner sound like he was a decent guy... i might pick up some of his other paperbacks if i see them cheap. or maybe even re-read the three HOWLINGs to see if it's worth it! in my mind, i've put him john russo-level; that's probably unfair.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

No wonder the movie was so effed up! I caught bits and pieces of this on TV the other day and it was, dare I say, mildly more entertaining that I remembered it. Still definitely not "good" by any means.

I've not read any of Brandner's work nor Russo's actually.

spookyx3 said...

i read HOWLING and at least part of one sequel. was sure i'd put something about russo's writing under MAJORETTES on here, maybe not. seems quite a few of russo's books were screenplays he hadn't used or sold yet. he's outlandish and predictable simultaneously.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

You very well could have submitted that comment. I have hundreds of messages to go through and approve as I'm still playing catch-up for the long time I was away!

spookyx3 said...

might be worth noting s. c. dacy, sybil danning's "personal manager" at the time, said while danning let it be known that she was upset about the end credits, she did not flee the theater in tears. (something like "the only thing flapping is brandner's mouth, and credibility.") then again, dacy did not have a great rep... to put it mildly.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

I can see it annoying her but I don't really believe the freak out / crying part, especially coming from someone who's never had any issue with doing nudity. I'd say she probably just thought it was stupid.

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