Thursday, December 24, 2009

Props just for being titled 'Werewolf Bitch'

The Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf (aka "Howling II: Stirba, Werewolf Bitch")(1986)
Starring: Annie McEnroe, Reb Brown, Christopher Lee, Marsha Hunt, Sybil Danning, Judd Omen and Ladislav Krecmer
Director: Philippe Mora
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

Occultist Stefan Crosscoe (Lee) convinces Jenny (McEnroe) that her newscaster sister's mysterious death was caused by werewolves. Together with Jenny's fiance Ben (Brown), they travel to Transylvania to avenge her sister and take advantage of a once-in-a-millenia chance to destroy the immortal Stirba, Mother of Werewolves (Danning).

"The Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewof" (released in GB with the subtitle "Stirba, Werewolf Bitch", one of my all-time favorite movie titles) is not a good movie by any standard. The script is muddled to the point of near-incomprehensibility and the film is edited in such a way that scenes seem like they're out of place--Is the underground club at the start of the movie a werewolf hangout or not? Is the new wave/punk band performing there also performing at Stirba's Transylvanian werewolf sex party, or is reusing the performance some weird attempt at padding the run-time? Why does Jenny decide to take a bath in the middle of the day, especially when she knows Stefan may call her to head out to werewolf castle any time? Why do the number of werewolves seem to increase and descrease at random and/or according to the needs of the plot? Why do the heroes wait until nightfall to raid the castle?-- and the acting is barely passable by everyone involved, including that offered by the great Christopher Lee.

And then there's the werewolf make-up and transformation scenes. It's not the worst I've ever seen, but, although this was clearly a low-budget quickie, the budget stil was such that it could have allowed for something better than werewolf costuming that looks like it was created with a make-up kit bought off the shelf in a Halloween costume shop along with fake fur harvested from coats at the thrift shop. The take-away lesson here is that if you're going to make a werewolf movie, put the money into hiriing a decent make-up artist and make-up effects designer.

For all that's wrong with this movie, it's still got a touch of that "so bad it's good" charm to it. There are few movies you;ll see that will have you wondering "Did I just see what I think I saw? Did I just hear them say what I think they said?"

I hesitate to recommend this film--too many of you reading this know how to email me and some of you even know where I live--but it might be a worthwhile addition to a werewolf-themed Bad Movie Night, or perhaps something to have running in a screening room at a large Halloween party. (Just be aware, there is subject matter in the film that's not appropriate for the kiddies. The players of "Ricky Shore Sings the Blues" called attention to that fact when they featured a clip from "Howling II" in their Werewolves in Heat skit. And a great skit that was, too. I would have loved to have imbedded it here, but it seems to have vanished from the web. A shame really.)