Famously, Rick Baker’s groundbreaking werewolf transformation scene from An American Werewolf in London had been taken from a different werewolf movie he was working on before getting the gig. That movie was Joe Dante’s The Howling. The Howling ended up getting its own werewolf transformation that was pretty great, though not quite as good, but their werewolves look at lot less stupid than London’s. Regardless, the two films have been the Twizzlers and Red Vines of the werewolf movie world ever since. I am an unashamed Howling devotee so going into my opinion of the film is unnecessary; I love it.
It tells the story of a reporter who managed to catch a serial killer, nearly becoming a victim in the process. She and her husband go on a retreat in a small town so that she can deal with her PTSD, but the town is lousy with werewolves who have designs on her. The film ends with her confirming the existence of werewolves by turning into one and having a friend shoot her with a silver bullet on the evening news.
The Howling 2 picks up days after the end of the first one. Our reporter has a brother (Reb Brown) and a colleague (Annie McEnroe) who team up with a werewolf hunter (Christopher Lee) to stop a thousands-year-old werewolf queen named Stirba (Sybil Danning) from fulfilling a prophecy to destroy the world and cause a werewolf uprising.
It’s very clear that the werewolves are meant to be vampires and the whole thing is a repurposed script for another movie entirely. The werewolves live in Transylvania, they hate consecrated ground, driving a stake through their heart kills them, holy water kills them, garlic repels them, they barely made an effort to even put werewolves in the movie. Stirba herself only transforms halfway for a three-way sex scene that seems to take 2 days to complete in the timeline of the film. But it’s hard to tell because of the editing.
Speaking of editing, this film has some of the hokiest wipe effects and transitions I have ever seen. Look at this shit!
Then this card appears.
What you need to understand is that there have been no cards like this in the entire movie and there aren’t any after this one. This one card is used at the 49-minute mark for no reason.
I will admit that, much like CHUD II, Howling 2’s lasting appeal for me is a goofy ’80s song. Babel’s The Howling is in my regular rotation (I would say my Halloween rotation but I’m not gonna lie and say I don’t listen to shit like this and Bud the CHUD every day of my life). It’s a good thing I like it so much because it appears in the movie conservatively every ten minutes and even opens and closes the movie (the end credits is a clip montage and the repetitive drumbeat is just a clip of Sybil Danning ripping her top off. I mean, I understand because this was peak Sybil Danning hotness and her breasts in this film are a force of nature but she reportedly wasn’t super appreciative of that and I don’t blame her a bit.
Does It Hold Up?
Sweet leaping Jesus, no! The Howling 2 is an awful movie all by itself. The staging, editing, and directing are all bad. Most of the cast seem to not be native English speakers and the few English speakers are a stilted Annie McEnroe, a Christopher Lee who appears to be embarrassed to be there (the first time he says Stirba’s name he pauses for what seems like an entire minute while I imagine he contemplates his life and whether this is worth it, Hollywood legend is that he’s in Gremlins 2 out of apology to Joe Dante), a scenery-chewing Sybil Danning (seeing her act like a wolf is magical), and Reb Brown: the doofiest action star to ever exist.
The plot is too simple and yet confusingly complex, nothing seems to add up to anything, the tenuous connection this film has to The Howling never pays off, and the movie is just top to bottom terrible. Director Philippe Mora would channel all the terribleness into a tongue-in-cheek follow-up The Marsupials: Howling 3, which is the closest thing to a good movie any of the The Howling sequels manage to be.
The Howling 2: Your Sister’s a Werewolf (or Stirba: Werewolf Bitch as it’s hilariously known in some markets) is good for a drunken night with friends and not a single thing else.
Watch, Toss, Or Buy?
Watch to laugh, toss for any other reason.
Where Can I Find It?
Scream! Factory released a Blu-ray special edition.