Trashy Horror: A Review of ‘Howling II’ on Blu

Posted in Blu-Ray/DVD, Movies by - July 18, 2015
Trashy Horror: A Review of ‘Howling II’ on Blu

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Horror is always such a damn tricky genre even at the best of times as you quite often have to turn off your logical and critical brain and just get swept up in the ride.  New on Blu-Ray, Howling II is a little campy, a little slutty but a totally earnest werewolf movie because no matter how goofy it gets at any one time it always takes itself unwaveringly serious.

After newscaster Karen White makes her shocking on screen transformation and subsequent death after turning into a werewolf, her brother Ben (Reb Brown) still grieving the loss of his sister is approached by the mysterious Stefan Crosscoe (Christopher Lee) who claims that his sister is in fact a werewolf and that she must de destroyed in order for her to find true peace.  However as both men quickly learn, there is a bigger plot a foot and they have to travel to Transylvania in order to destroy the newly awakened Striba (Sybil Danning) before she can return to full strength and enact her master plan.

I’ll be honest, it ain’t great by traditional standards but for a horror movie sequel it does have a surprisingly good amount of continuity to the original film and as an extension of the madness that was crafted years ago.

With Philippe Mora and the writer of the original book Gary Brandner sliding in to help on the screenplay, I can’t deny that while it doesn’t necessarily have any scares for 2015 standards, in 1985 it was a fun, blood soaked ride that had a slight undercurrent of humor to it as it knew what it was and never quite deviated from it all.  Essentially a loose chase movie that sets itself going in the first ten or so minutes, this was never meant to be a movie of deep thought or complex story.  Just set it all up, give it a wind and watch it dance, and when you embrace that ideal, you’ll be OK with the Howling II because for the era, the production design, the effects and the soundtrack were spot on primed for the grind house crowd to just shut their brains off to and enjoy the sex and the blood.

At that time, no epitomized those ideals any more then Sybil Danning as she was the sex and blood queen of the 1980’s.  As Stirba, she tears into the scenery at every turn and vamps it up to the nth degree.  She plays it stone cold serious and that’s why it works, she’s a primal bitch who simply wants everything that is in her path.  Christopher Lee is quite frankly Christopher Lee and just has to open his voice to be credible and effective, otherwise there really isn’t a soul in this one who just didn’t feel like they were just reading their lines verbatim.

With the subtitle of “Your Sister is a Werewolf” this movie never really took itself too seriously and ultimately, Howling II came around right when the home video boom was starting to kick in along with foreign markets that were loosening up just a bit.  It’s a sexy, sleazy sequel that we never really asked for, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a little bit of perverse pleasure in watching it all.

Picture and sound quality on the BD are top notch and the Blu-Ray includes a feature length audio commentary track with director Philippe Mora and another with composer Steve Parsons and editor Charles Bornstein.  There are also new interviews with Reb Brown and Sybil Danning, along with the theatrical trailer, a stills gallery and in-depth look at the special effects on the film.

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This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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