Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf

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Howling II:
Your Sister Is a Werewolf
Howling II poster.jpg
later theatrical release poster
Directed by Philippe Mora
Produced by
  • Steven A. Lane
  • executive producer:
  • Grahame Jennings
Screenplay by
Based on Howling II: The Return 
by Gary Brandner
Starring
Music by Stephen W. Parsons
Cinematography Geoffrey Stephenson
Edited by Charles Bornstein
Production
company
Release dates
  • August 28, 1985 (1985-08-28) (France)
Running time
  • 87 minutes (original)
  • 91 minutes (re-edit)
Country United States
United Kingdom
Language English

Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf (original title: Howling II: Stirba – Werewolf Bitch) is a 1985 horror film directed by Philippe Mora, as a sequel to the 1981 film The Howling.[1][2][3] Although Gary Brandner, author of The Howling novels, co-wrote the screenplay, the Howling II film is largely unrelated to his Howling II novel from 1979, though it does introduce Eastern European customs and Romani into its werewolf mythology like the book.

Plot[edit]

Ben White (Reb Brown) attends the funeral of his sister, journalist Karen White, the heroine of the previous film. Ben meets both Jenny Templeton (Annie McEnroe), one of Karen's colleagues, and Stefan Crosscoe (Christopher Lee), a mysterious interloper who tells him Karen was a werewolf. Providing videotaped evidence of the transformation – and turning up to destroy Karen as her undead body rises from the grave – Crosscoe convinces Ben and Jenny to accompany him to Transylvania to battle Stirba (Sybil Danning), an immortal werewolf queen. Along the way, the trio encounter Mariana (Marsha Hunt), another lusty werewolf siren, and her minion Erle (Ferdy Mayne).

Arriving in the Balkans, Ben and company wander through an ethnic folk festival, unaware that Stirba is off in her nearby castle already plotting their downfall. Stirba seems to have witchcraft powers as well as being a werewolf, for she intones the Wiccan chant Eko Eko Azarak. Eventually, the adventurers battle with Stirba in an assault that involves disguised dwarves, mutilated priests, and supernatural parasites, before Stirba is destroyed by Stefan. Ben and Jenny return home, where they become a couple and are greeted by a trick or treater dressed as a werewolf.

Main cast[edit]

Production[edit]

This film is the only Howling sequel that directly follows the original film's events (though presumably with parallel-earth incongruities), and is also the only Howling film to feature the input of the original novelist, Gary Brandner. Brandner was critical of the original 1981 film which was only a loose adaptation of his 1977 novel, and some elements of this sequel may have been deliberately divergent from the previous film, though some (such as this film's ret-conning of that film's ending to be a secret) seem to be accidental.[4]

The film features a sequence in which little-known new wave band Babel play their song "The Howling". Babel were: Stephen W. Parsons (lead singer); Chris Pye (guitar); Simon Etchell (keyboard); Steve Young (drums). Three of these musicians later played in another band, State Project. Etchell composed the theme for UK TV show Catchphrase as well as many other TV signature tunes and later the soundtrack for the movie Vanished (2009).

Director Philippe Mora related how the film was set to celebrate the ten-thousandth birthday of bi-curious werewolf queen Stirba and was inspired by New Wave eroticism. He revealed that actors Reb Brown and Annie McEnroe were so bad in their roles that veteran Christopher Lee, acted off-set in a manner as if "wishing himself away".[5] Also revealed was that the scene with Sybil Danning revealing her substantial bare breasts was repeated seventeen times during the end credits screen crawl.[5] For most other scenes in the movie Danning was either covered with hair (per her character's werewolf nature) or wearing a metallic armoured outfit and sunglasses.

While most of the film was shot on locations in what was, at the time, the country of Czechoslovakia - for example in the ossuary in Mělník, a town in Central Bohemia (which the story incorrectly claims to be in Transylvania), as well as at Barrandov Studios, Prague, some scenes were shot in Los Angeles.[6]

Shooting in then-Soviet-controlled Prague offered difficulties: Mora's government-assigned assistant director knew nothing of filmmaking. Mora had to "literally import trash from America to clutter the clean communist streets".[5] When a local casting call went out looking for "punks", a thousand individuals arrived, resulting in the local authorities calling in the both the police and military. Mora was advised by an army colonel, "you can finish shooting the scene, but they'll have to leave in groups of no more than three."[5]

Co-stars Marsha Hunt and Christopher Lee previously together appeared in Dracula A.D. 1972. In 1990, when Lee was cast in Gremlins 2: The New Batch, one of the first things he did was apologise to director Joe Dante (who also directed The Howling) for being in this film.[7]

Critical response[edit]

Roger Ebert spoke toward Sybil Danning's work in the film and wrote that although it was close, it was "not the worst movie Danning has made."[1] In noting the film's heroes becoming involved in the inept and "strange rituals of the cult of Stirba", he concedes that "no one presides over a ritual quite as well as Sybil Danning".[1] The scene where she rips open her dress is repeated twice during the closing credits, "providing the movie with its second and third interesting moments."[1]

Variety offered that while Christopher Lee brought experience to his role as vampire hunter Stefan Crosscoe, the film lacks suspense and the plot is generic and predictable. They noted that despite the film being shot primarily in Czechoslovakia, production did not take full advantage of the setting.[6]

Brian J. Dillard of Allrovi called it a "laughable exercise in horror-sequel tomfoolery", which "strays into so-bad-it's-good camp appeal."[8] He noted that the sex appeal of Sybil Danning and work of veteran horror stars Christopher Lee and Ferdy Mayne were used as substitutes for "the wit and inventive effects work that characterized the original."[8] In noting the script's overuse of horror genre clichés, he was able to praise Danning's work for its keeping the film from being too serious. He concluded by writing "later Howling sequels would drift into a more polished form of banality, but for utter what-were-they-thinking ineptitude, it's hard to beat this wretched howler."[8]

Release[edit]

Original theatrical poster

Hemdale Films had original theatrical release in France and England in 1985, before theatrical release in the United States in January 1986. Among its international release titles, it is known as Aullidos 2: Stirba, la mujer lobo or Aullidos 2 in Spain, Aullido 2 in Mexico, Üvöltés 2. - A nővéred egy vérfarkas in Hungary, Howling II - L'ululato in Italy, Hurlements II in France, Das Tier II in Germany, I gynaika lykanthropos (Greek script: Η γυναίκα λυκάνθρωπος) in Greece, and Vampiros em Fúria in Portugal. In later US release, the film was marketed with the tagline "The rocking, shocking new wave of horror!"

MGM Home Entertainment had commercial re-release of the DVD for Your Sister Is a Werewolf in 2005,[9] and released it again in 2010 as part of a two-disk set which included both 1985's Your Sister Is a Werewolf and 1981's The Howling.[10]

Alternate versions[edit]

The original theatrical release version of Howling II: Stirba - Werewolf Bitch ran 87 minutes. This version was released on VHS from HBO / Cannon Home Video and Home Video. The re-edited TV version ran 91 minutes, and included a new scene before the end credits, plus a brand new end credits sequence in order to replace the topless shots of Sybil Danning in the original's R rated end sequence. The TV end credits also include music whereas the theatrical version is silent.

The film failed to garner as much attention or commercial success as the original film. In later years, The Howling II acquired a cult following,[citation needed] perhaps due to the presence of cult actors Sybil Danning, Reb Brown and Christopher Lee.

In summer 2015, the film will be released for the first time on Blu Ray by Scream Factory.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Ebert, Roger (April 7, 1986). "review: Howling II". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved July 14, 2012. 
  2. ^ Jane , Ian (August 23, 2005). "DVD review: Howling 2:Your Sister Is a Werewolf". DVD Talk. Retrieved July 14, 2012. 
  3. ^ "The Howling II... Your Sister Is a Werewolf (1985)". The New York Times. Retrieved July 14, 2012. 
  4. ^ Documentary on The Howling DVD, Regions 1 and 2
  5. ^ a b c d Adams, Michael (2010). Showgirls, Teen Wolves, and Astro Zombies. HarperCollins. p. 17. ISBN 0061806293. 
  6. ^ a b staff (December 31, 1984). "review: Howling II - Your Sister Is a Werewolf". Variety. Retrieved July 14, 2012. 
  7. ^ Joe Dante's DVD audio commentary for Gremlins 2: The New Batch.
  8. ^ a b c Dillard, Brian J. "review: Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf". Allrovi. Retrieved July 14, 2012. 
  9. ^ "MGM DVD release: Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf". Allrovi. Retrieved July 14, 2012. 
  10. ^ "The Howling/The Howling II (2 Discs)". Allrovi. Retrieved July 14, 2012. 
  11. ^ Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf Coming to Blu-ray from the Scream Factory

External links[edit]