Plan 9 From Transylvania… THE HOWLING II: YOUR SISTER IS A WEREWOLF Reviewed

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You’ll have somebody’s eye out if you’re not careful!

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Told you!

BD / DVD Combi. Regions B/2. Arrow. 15.

Actually she’s not, she’s a highly respected historical novelist, but let’s not get into that right now… Joe Dante’s The Howling (1981) was a state-of-the-art special FX tour-de-force (courtesy of Rob Bottin) and engaging horror comedy, though its comedic aspects might not have been immediately apparent to casual viewers unhip to its ongoing in-jokes… by the time Dee Wallace (as Karen White) closed the picture by transforming into a pathetic werewolf while reading the news, though, I imagine everybody was in on the gag…

… but was Philippe Mora while directing Howling II: Your Sister Is A Werewolf aka Howling II: Stirba – Werewolf Bitch, four years later? The clues are there in those titles, but Mr Mora seems to think he’s directing some sort of genre milestone, an illusion no doubt enhanced by the presence of Christopher Lee (must have been coming up short on the mortgage payments that month) in his cast as Steffan Croscoe, “psychic investigator”… that’s what it says on the card he hands to Karen’s brother Ben (Reb Brown) at her funeral, anyway, following up with the immortal line “Your Sister Is A Werewolf!” Ben and Karen’s colleague Jenny Templeton (Annie McEnroe) are understandably skeptical until a pack of lairy lycanthropes attempt to liberate Karen’s corpse from consecrated ground and the girl herself emerges as a snarling wolfwoman due to the removal of the silver bullets that felled her. Crosscoe fires off a few more and applies a silver stake to put her out of her misery. Suitably convinced, Ben and Karen accompany him to to confront werewolf-in-chief Stirba (as strappingly embodied by Austrian uberfrau Sybil Danning) in Transylvania (actually Cesky Krumlov in what was then Czechoslovakia), where she spends her time enjoying shape-shifting orgies with Marsha Hunt and her assembled acolytes, occasionally to the accompaniment of their god awful house band, desperately striving to cop a bit of punk “credibility” several years after the event.

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If you thought the sheer Presence of Christopher Lee could bring dignity and gravitas to any old tat he appeared in, here’s irrefutable evidence to the contrary. Of course it doesn’t help that Mora introduces him in a ludicrous, Criswellesque pre-titles sequence and subsequently decks him out in risible “new wave” threads. Brown is amiable if plank like. McEnroe seems to be here on the strength of a vague physical resemblance to Jamie Lee Curtis. Both look like exemplary casting, though, after you’ve seen (and heard) Jimmy Nail essaying the role of an LA punk… no, I didn’t just make that bit up. It’s left to Danning to steal the show in her fab fetish threads and with her pterodactyl-on-a-stick.

Otherwise, the special FX in this film are… I was going to say “variable” but in fact they don’t vary at all, starting off shit and stopping there. The featured creatures, furthermore, are consistently more Fraggle Rock than American Werewolf In London. Tom Burman had already worked on The Thing (1982) and had Terminator 2 (1991) ahead of him so Christ only knows what he was doing working on this one…

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… other FX technicians on Howling II got worse (or better, depending on your point of view) jobs. In a featurette focusing on the contributions of Steve Johnson and Scott Wheeler there’s much talk of the perils of applying werewolf fur to a tumescent todger. Elsewhere among the bonus materials, the amiable and plank-like Reb Brown is interviewed and credulously rehashes Christopher Lee’s claim to have trained the guys who assassinated Heydrich, possibly oblivious to suggestions since Lee’s demise that many of his War-time espionage exploits got a little, er, exaggerated in the telling. Mora is interviewed, of course and you get a choice of two commentary tracks, one from him and another with composer Steve Parsons and editor Charles Bornstein. There’s “behind the scenes” footage, alternative opening and closing sequences (which don’t seem to depart markedly from what you’re already familiar with), a stills gallery, trailer and a reversible sleeve giving you the mandatory Graham Humphreys option. Sybil Danning usually comes across as a very feisty, together lady but in her interview here congratulates herself on standing up to the producers who wanted to over-exploit the celebrated shot of her whipping her norks out, with the result that it “only” gets looped 17 times (!) under the credits.

Was Mora completely unaware that he was (inadvertantly?) delivering such a comedy classic? Bad as Howling II is, you’ll want to watch it again (or possibly experience its marvels for the first time) on account of its certified Golden Turkey status… and Ms Danning’s awesome display of boobage isn’t exactly going to discourage anybody from checking it out, either! If all that tickles your fancy, you’ll be wondering when Arrow are going to get their fingers out and release Mora’s equally batty The Marsupials: The Howling III (1987)

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“Hey, have you ever been to Electric Wolfy Land?”

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Thankfully, it is…

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