As promised, my review of this wonderful little film. The Howling is a great werewolf movie, featuring a spectacular transformation and deals with a community of werewolves living in a secluded California coastal town. The Howling 2 deals with the first film’s heroine’s brother, her co-worker, and Christopher Lee having to go to Transylvania to fight the werewolf queen and destroy all vampires or something.
As you can tell this is a totally serious movie.
I will say that this movie is a massive let down following the first film. It combines werewolves with some witchcraft, and for some reason a new breed of werewolves that can only be killed by Titanium (I don’t know why it doesn’t really explain). There are a lot of parts of this film that feel like they wanted to make a soft-core porn (mainly the werewolf orgy). Also, unbeknownst to me, werewolves love walking around in leather/bondage gear.
Behold the werewolf queen in all her mistressy evil.
Also, following the awesome transformation effects that Rob Bottin did for the first film, we see close-ups of bones shifting and hands changing shape, but it’s always the same shots and never on a specific character. Also, the creature design changed incredibly between the two films, even though 2 is supposed to take place right after 1. The second films few close-ups of a werewolf look more like a mutated ape.
Howling 1, clearly a werewolf.
Howling 2 – a crazed mutant ape.
I feel like Christopher Lee read the script and thought that it would be a fun film, it was his first werewolf film. However, I don’t think they showed him the whole script, or they changed it after he came onboard. I just find it hard to believe that he would be a part of something so cheesy.
Okay, I’ll give you my biggest issues with the movie in a handy little list.
- Creature design – besides my aforementioned mutant ape design, when our heroes are going to storm the castle, the werewolves that attack them look more like little rampaging bigfoots/bigfeet (not sure what that plural is). You never see there faces, just giant hairsuits rushing down a hill at them.
- The werewolf queen, Stirba (played by the always fun to watch Sybil Danning), never goes full werewolf. At most she gets a little hairy and makes awkward biting motions at other actors. Also, she seems a lot more like a witch than a werewolf throughout the film. Granted, I realize that there is a strong historical connections between witchcraft and werewolf myths, but they don’t really ever explore that in the film, so it feels really out of place.
- They introduce the titanium weakness concept, but our heroes just have titanium weapons, so why not stick with traditional silver? I mean, it really does not add anything to the plot point.
- This is more of a technical issue for the cinematographer on this film. We see each of our protagonists enter the castle on the same floor, one of them goes down a staircase, which we see the other two go up later. Apparently, the werewolf stronghold literally only has one staircase, and we are treated to the same shot 5 times with different actors located on it. This may have been a budgetary reason, but it feels like it was just lazy.
- Also, it was easier to smuggle weapons across international borders back in 1985. For instance, he leaves the US and flies into a foreign country, and the first scene that we see him in after they’ve landed, he pulls out a revolver from his jacket. Was it easier to smuggle firearms onto planes in the 80’s? Did he stash this in his luggage? Were there no custom’s agents that felt that was a weird thing for a tourist to bring into their country? It’s just weird.
- Finally, really all the bondage gear in this movie doesn’t seem to make any sense. I feel like the studio had made a barbarian film previously and just re-used the costumes for it.
So, there you have it. I am a fan of The Howling. I also like the fifth one (but would not call it a good movie – you don’t even see a werewolf). I’ll continue to brush this DVD off every so often because it’s got Christopher Lee and is at least funny, if not confusing at times. There you go, check it out if you dare, but at least watch the first film – it’s actually really good. Now, I leave you with a picture of Christopher Lee, infiltrating a punk rock club in The Howling 2: Your Sister is a Werewolf.
You’ll never be this cool.