Howling II and the Essential Time-Waster
Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf is a tough one to categorize. On the one hand, it’s not a good movie; the acting leaves something to be desired, and watching it now, in 2020, it’s very dated, very ’80s. Lots of new wave aesthetics, very goth in its way. But on the other hand, it stars Christopher Lee, and the production value is lavish. Something else fun, if you’re familiar with Mystery Science Theater 3000: it also features Reb Brown, the star of Space Mutiny. He yells incoherently a lot in this movie, too.
Howling II follows Ben, a police officer from out west, and Jenny, a local reporter, as they try to reconcile Ben’s sister, Karen’s, death. I assume this happens in the first movie, as this one opens on her funeral. While there, they meet Stefan (Christopher Lee) who tells them that Karen isn’t dead but is instead a werewolf. He shows them a tape of her last broadcast where she turned into a werewolf and was shot with a silver bullet. Because the bullet was removed, she didn’t really die. Jenny believes it all, while Ben takes a little convincing. The next night, they follow Stefan to the cemetery; there, werewolves attack them. Ben is convinced, and Stefan tells them they must kill the head werewolf, Stirba, before the full moon. To do this, they travel to Transylvania.
From there, things progress fairly quickly. Except there’s also a strange sense that the movie is dragging along. It is both slow and choppy. The editing is interesting, as it keeps showing us clips of scenes we’ve already been to as a sort of memory for characters, to show what they’re thinking about in that moment. I feel like it’s used to remind us of characters and scenes as if we’ve forgotten; like the editors knew the movie was lackluster and threw those in as an extra “hey! Don’t forget about when this happened!”
The aesthetics and imagery of this movie are a little all over the place as well; the wolves are gothic and extravagant, which I guess works as the lore stems from Romania. Except there’s also a lot of weird werewolf sex which I wasn’t a fan of. So I guess this is a good movie if you like hairy werewolf orgies?
Thoughts on Howling II
All in all, Howling II is pretty bland. There’s not much that we learn from this movie, not much of a moral. Not that everything has to have a moral, but we don’t really take anything away from this movie either. So far I’ve been able to eke out some sort of lesson from each movie I’ve watched, but not so for Howling II. Perhaps it’s because I never saw Howling I, and maybe there’s more substance to that one. All I can say is, this movie is bland yet bizarre. The ending is strange and disjointed, concluding in a credits sequence that features a punk concert overlaid by clips from the movie we just watched. The concert is a touchstone throughout the film, singing the same lyrics over and over.
In my opinion, this movie is bad, and not in the way Witchboard was bad. This is truly just a bad movie, but that doesn’t mean it’s a waste of time, or not worth a watch. It’s worth it just for the sheer ridiculousness of the werewolf transformations, and it’s worth it for Christopher Lee. This is a great movie to put on with your friends and make fun of, a la Mystery Science Theater. It’s fun, it’s campy, and it’s perfect if you want a “scary” movie for Halloween but don’t actually want to be scared. Like, at all.