When a film starts with Christopher Lee talking pseudo-biblical nonsense into a camera, carrying with it the weight of the world as we know it and with a skeleton staring at his neck, and then kicks into the outrageously silly title “Your sister is a werewolf” you know that you are in for a hell of a ride. Whilst none of that gives a clue as to just how thirsty this mid-80s horror will be, the film fulfills all its promise of gothic nonsense with unrelenting determination. It also manages to be far more entertaining than it should be as, unlike its predecessor, it leaps both paws first into the trashier side of the werewolf world.
Once the old European architecture of the credits are out of the way, it’s straight into providing some reason as to how this is a sequel to The Howling and not just the ravings of someone who discovered their new, favourite, fetish. It’s the funeral of Karen White (although not the one we remember from the last film, as Dee Wallace didn’t reprise her role), and her brother Ben White (Reb Brown) and his future girlfriend Jenny Templeton (Annie McEnroe) are looking all solemn, probably because they don’t know they’re going to hook up later. Stefan Crosscoe (Christopher Lee) is there, looking serious because he knows Karen was a werewolf and sinister because that’s just what Christopher Lee does in such a movie, and Mariana the Werewolf is there (Marsha Hunt) because it would be a short film otherwise.
Details are exchanged between interested parties, threats are made, werewolves are mentioned a lot, and then Karen (Hana Ludvikova) comes back to life and then gets ganked because Christopher Lee isn’t going to allow any of that shit on his watch. This convinces Den and Jenny to join him on his trip to Transylvania, because it’s cheaper to film a movie there, and then we get introduced to the movie’s theme song.
The tune in question is “The Howling” by New Wave band Babel, and if you don’t like it then you are going to hate the rest of the film. The director Philippe Mora obviously loves it, because it gets used all the time – along with the footage from the concert they play to a bunch of punks. We also get to see Mariana and her pack hunt a bunch of humans to it, because that establishes two very important things: firstly, that they are very evil and secondly that despite all the trappings so far, they are absolutely not vampires.
Next stop: The Dark Country, Transylvania (well, actually Czechoslovakia). You can tell it’s a bad place because everyone is foreign and talks in bad accents. Here we get introduced to Stirba (Sybil Danning), who is absolutely not a vampire even if she regains her youth from sucking a sacrificial virgins lifeforce, and her boobs. She’s the leader of the werewolves (“Queen Bitch”, if you will) and she’s going to bring about the rise of the werewolves through some something or something. The werewolves appear to be really into Latin heavy rituals, lots of exciting black leather underwear, blood sacrifices, and living in castles. But, again, to be clear, not vampires. Even if there is a bat motiff going on in the background.
Now that everyone is in place, the film can get down to business. And by that, we obviously mean sex. If the furry fun of the last film was your thing, you are positively going to love the shag fest that is here for you. Not only does everyone seem to have got dressed up for a spot of BDSM, but we’ve got three-in-a-bed, semi-incestuous wolf-person humping and the humans hammering on the walls so hard the wolfs in the street can smell it. Everyone is at it, other than the locals. They are pretty much all presented as too old, too ugly, too deformed, or too rapey to have sex with.
In between that, and Striba putting on her finest “fuck me now” bondage battle armour, there is a fairly decent Christopher Lee fronted horror movie going on. Mythos is muttered, schemes are hatched, graves are robbed, evil is done, and titanium is introduced as an even better werewolf killer because… hey, it’s the sequel! You need a new gimmick in the sequel. It keeps things ticking along, never getting in the way of the horny that the film assumes you are really there for and has several moments of actually pretty good horror. It also has some very silly lines, including the amazing exchange of “Do you see that midget over there” “Yes” “Let’s follow it” “Sure”. Because at this point, being crass and offensive is just a given.
Eventually, the two plots collide, and we get to find out what happens after too many drinks at your local sex dungeon. Heroics are rewarded, evil is punished, the day is saved and Sybil Danning manages to hold her own against Christopher Lee in all of this. You’ll laugh, you’ll snigger, you’ll possibly wish that there had been less random sex thrown around like cheap confetti, but you will absolutely know that you have been entertained.
And then we get The Credits.
The sequence is a replay of the main tune, again, mixing the concert performance with highlights from the film we just saw. Not a terrible idea, but the producer clearly paid a lot to have Sybil Danning take her top off on camera and they are determined to get their money’s worth. Truth be told, she has quite nice breasts and, if offered them and were I available to so indulge, I’m sure I would have a grand time with them. But after seeing the exact same sequence of them being exposed 17 times in 3 minutes my mind moves from “oh, those are quite nice breasts” to “I wonder how they got that top to come off so neatly. Was it special hemming or just a specific cut? I’ll watch closely next time that happens…”
That aside, what are we left with once the smoke has cleared, the hair has been vacuumed up, and that sodding song has stopped playing?
Well, it’s certainly a sequel to the original film; even if it has jettisoned any of the metaphor, subtlety, or original footage or cast. The world of the werewolves has been built on, especially their sexual proclivities, and there is enough of a springboard to keep the series going. The film self-confidently invites you to revel in its campy trashy fun, so if you can forgive its many “of its time” representational problems then it’s a fun watch. However, it’s very hard to say it’s that good a werewolf movie as, despite the hairy sex, they pretty much act like vampires. Heck, there is even a silver stake doing the rounds. You could probably squint at the matriarchal politics as some kind of wolf thing, but the amount of sexploitation and lesbian titillation counters that as the reason it’s there. However you cut it, it feels like a standard vampire movie with a couple of names changed to grab at The Howling’s cache. So, whilst it is arguably a good horror movie it’s not a good werewolf movie, and its lasting impact probably landed harder on The Lost Boys more than on any other lupin films.
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