• Howling II - Your Sister Is A Werewolf

    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: July 14th, 2105.
    Director: Philippe Mora
    Cast: Christopher Lee, Sybil Danning, Reb Brown
    Year: 1985
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    The Movie:

    When iconic star Christopher Lee met director Joe Dante of THE HOWLING fame, the first thing he did was apologize for his part in HOWLING II: YOUR SISTER IS A WEREWOLF. And yet, in 2015 Scream Factory have not only deemed this objectively terrible film worthy of an HD upgrade, they've graced it with some quality extras. Even stranger, the announcement of this mess on Blu-ray was greeted with a fair amount of enthusiasm from the horror community.


    It's simple really. HOWLING II is more fun than a barrel full of oversexed vampire monkeys running amok at an 80's fetishwear fashion show. Too utterly bizarre to be stupid, and shameless enough to just go for broke, this really IS a camp classic. And not a manufactured one like BIRDEMIC either. Or simply inept like THE ROOM. This is the real deal.

    Opening with the fate of key character Karen from the first film and her funeral, the plot is set in motion by a warning to her brother Ben (Reb Brown) at the service from a strange older gent named Stefan (Christopher Lee). He tells Ben that Karen is not only not dead, but must be stopped with a stake through the heart - hence the werewolf sister subtitle. He doesn't believe Stefan - but his girlfriend and Karen's coworker Jenny (Annie McEnroe) does. Course, soon enough we see Karen fully mobile and in all her lycanthropic glory. Stefan can handle this business - but there is another even more pressing matter. Stefan needs to travel to Transylvania to put a stop to Stirba (Sybil Danning), the werewolf queen who's ultimately responsible for Karen's current condition. You see, there's a rave to the grave going down in Dracula's home turf to celebrate the upcoming werewolf apocalypse. They are planning on taking over the world and Stefan is going to need some help to stop them. So Ben and Jenny will be accompanying him...

    Once Sybil Danning takes center stage and the action shifts to Eastern Europe in this bizarre exercise, HOWLING II really finds its groove. Strangely for something conceived as a horror film, it has little interest in frightening the audience. It almost goes for a whacked out NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR on a fatter budget vibe. Danning as the werewolf queen is decked out in all manner of sunglasses, breastplates and leather corsets. For men of a certain sexual bent she's quite the piece of catnip - like a spiritual werewolf cousin to Ilsa the she-wolf of the SS. Then there's the matter of the awful but fun hybrid punk/new wave music and the incongruity of Lee's outfits. The film is also loaded with a barrage of often gory practical special effects that keep this from ever getting tedious. Aside from Lee the acting is awful but in a movie like this, who cares? Director Phillipe Mora keeps things crackling along and makes sure when Danning gets her topless mojo on that the male audience gets a REALLY good look. Repeatedly.


    Scream's 1.85.1 framed 1080p AVC encoded transfer is an upper mid level quality affair. Key areas like black levels and fine detail are strong and obvious trouble spots like the use of DNR avoided. The print itself is clean and in good shape with no scars and some of HOWLING II's atmospheric Eastern European location shooting really benefits from the HD uptick. Optical effects look soft at times but that's just the nature of the way beasts like this work. Check out the screenshots - in every area that matters, Scream have heartily bested the old DVD.

    Sound is covered by an English language DTS-HD Mono track that does what needs to be done just fine. Balance levels fluctuate a tiny bit unevenly in louder sections but nothing serious. The track is robust enough and subs for the hard of hearing in English are present.

    The first notable extra is a wide ranging and informative commentary track with director Mora moderated by Red Shirt's Michael Felsher. Mora is engaging and Felsher - an old hand at this stuff - gets really good material out of him. The focus is often on Lee which is nice considering the giant's recent death. But we also hear about the realities of shooting in Eastern Europe in the mid 1980's and many other topics. The second audio commentary features editor Charles Bornstein and music composer Steve Parsons. Parsons has some interesting insights on his creative process while Bornstein goes on a bit of a wild tear about what PoS he thinks the film is. Which, while I quite enjoy this film, is still fun to listen to.

    Next up are the on camera pieces. Thespian Reb Brown sits for 15 minutes to discuss the film and he's surprisingly magnanimous about the film's place in the world. Seems this was a pleasant experience for him and he's happy with the film's current cult status. Danning gets a solid featurette too where she covers her deep affection for both director Mora and star Lee and fills us in on the grueling nature of her costuming and makeup prep in the movie. Steve Johnson and Scott Wheeler - the two dudes responsible for HOWLING II's practical fx - get a 15 minute bit too, and they've got some good stories about working with the cast and the practicalities and disappointments of their work in the film. Final extra bits are alternate opening and closing sequences well worth a look, a big ass still gallery and theatrical trailer and 4 minutes of extraneous footage are chucked in too.

    Parting Thoughts:

    Anyone that already likes this film will be thrilled with this package. Anybody on the fence... well let me borrow Joe Bob Brigg's iconic phrase and say "Check it out". Unless you really really can't stand your horror films anything less than dead eyed serious, there is a lot of fun to be had at this gathering of the werewolf tribe. And if you are a man with a leather or dominatrix fetish...


    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!