Daily Archives: June 25, 2014

Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf (1985)

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*. What a stupid title. Though I suppose it’s better than what they had originally planned: Howling II: Stirba – Werewolf Bitch.
*. What a terrible pre-credit sequence. Christopher Lee alone in the starry sky reciting Revelation. It made me think of Dune, and who wants to be reminded of that?
*. I remember the only reason I went to this movie in 1985 was to see Sybil Danning’s tits. I was not disappointed. And you can tell from the closing credits that the producers knew damn well what they were selling. Elsewhere, I have to say she looks sensational in her biker/dominatrix outfit. The furry three-way, on the other hand, deserves recognition on some short list of the worst couplings ever filmed.
*. Poor Christopher Lee. Such a long, undistinguished career for such a distinguished actor. What did he think when he read the script for this one? I wonder if he cared.

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*. This wasn’t really a sequel to The Howling, though they do make a very feeble gesture in that direction. It is, at least, where they indirectly picked up the stupid subtitle.
*. Despite Roger Ebert’s dubbing the original as one of the silliest movies ever made, this one is much sillier.
*. And tackier. You don’t even get any decent werewolf transformation effects, but only a repetitive series of cutaways.
*. What is with those cutaways? Not only are they repetitive, many of them don’t make any sense. It’s like time and then space have dissolved. I mean, has the new wave band been transported to Transylvania at the end? Or is that a flashback?
*. Speaking of the band (their name was Babel), you have to love/hate how the club scene was presented in such a generic way in the movies of this time. It’s like they just smushed punk and new wave and metal and everything else together and then threw it on stage with a bunch of flashing disco lights. If that was the ’80s then I must have missed it.
*. Speaking of the ’80s, if there was anything worse than the porn of that era then it was the pseudo-porn of that era. The orgies here are ghastly. Still, I like the idea of horny werewolves. It seems like a nice life – all they do is eat and fuck.
*. Jenny, by the way, would fit right in with their pack. She practically throws herself on Ben’s cock the first chance she gets. Which comes quickly after she suggests they share a room at the hotel.
*. I’m not sure why Lee gives Ben and Jenny a picture of Mariana. So they they will be able to identify her? She must be the only black woman in the village, and it’s not like she dresses down so as not to attract attention.
*. The business with the killer dwarf has to be a nod to Don’t Look Now, doesn’t it?
*. As with a lot of so-bad-they’re-almost-good movies, it’s hard to tell how seriously anyone involved took it. According to director Philippe Mora (as reported by Michael Adams in his book Showgirls, Teen Wolves, and Astro Zombies) “you couldn’t do it seriously.” And indeed most of it seems to have been a joke. But then most of the jokes don’t work. I mean, what about the ending? I can’t make any sense out of it at all.
*. I did enjoy the full slate of silly wipe effects. Somebody was having fun.
*. So that’s where they got that crazy horned helmet Jay Hernandez briefly dons in Hostel! It must have been kicking around a prop room for twenty years.
*. Could the dialogue have been any more stilted? It’s like the characters are robots. And then at the end they turn into aliens, what with the mumbo-jumbo they’re reciting and the lasers beaming all around them (or are they back in the dance club?). Apparently pieces of a Wicca chant are used. In any event, none of it seems remotely Christian.
*. Maybe not quite in the running for the “best worst movie ever,” but it’s close. I do recommend it to aficionados of the bizarre. The transgressive sex, campy outfits, bizarre editing, over-the-top script (silver bullets won’t cut it against these werewolves, they have to be titanium!), gratuitous and dated “special” effects, wonky narrative hiccups, and overall incoherence give what should have been a complete piece of garbage a hint of the joyfully surreal.

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The Howling (1981)

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*. A movie that holds an awkward place in horror film history. Along with An American Werewolf in London, which came out just after, it pretty much revived the werewolf genre from a long recession, largely thanks to some remarkable special effects. And it did so on a very modest budget of just a little over a million dollars.
*. That both this film and American Werewolf were horror-comedies should also tell you something about where the genre was at. Even with the startling new effects on display it was hard to take werewolves seriously. Enter a pair of jokers (Joe Dante and John Landis).
*. The effects are good, but the subversive humour seems tame by today’s standards. It was a funnier movie at the time, and hasn’t aged that well.

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*. James Whale thought of his Universal horrors as a lark too, but they’ve stood up better.
*. Of course there’s no shame in being upstaged by the effects in a movie like this. You expect it. The real problem here is that the leads (Dee Wallace, Christopher Stone, and Dennis Dugan) are so much less interesting than the supporting cast (Patrick Macnee, Slim Pickens, John Carradine, Kevin McCarthy, Dick Miller). It’s hard to care about such bland main characters. They don’t command our attention or evoke much sympathy.

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*. Will Rob Bottin be remembered as the last of the great in-camera horror effects men? Perhaps. I like his work here, and the distinctive new werewolf “look.” Even the bunny ears seem a bit sinister.
*. I wonder if the extending snout of the werewolf was inspired by the similar effect of the projecting mouth-within-a-mouth of the Alien creature. I’ve always thought there was something sexual about these slimy, dripping erections, sticking in your face like a threatening penis dentata.
*. Bob Burns’s set design for the cabin just seem like a retread of his Texas Chain Saw Massacre house. I think he mailed this one in.
*. Pauline Kael: “The director, Joe Dante, seems a mixture – in just about equal parts – of talent, amateurishness, style, and flake.” Style? Dante’s a film buff and that leads to a certain wry sensibility (not to mention lots of in-jokes). But that’s not really a style.
*. Was Dr. Waggner a werewolf? I don’t think the movie ever says.

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