The Film (3.5/5)
Joe Dante's film the Howling is one of my favorite werewolf films of all time. Of course, it is also one of the finest films of the werewolf genre overall. The general consensus over the decades is that you have the Dante film followed by a series of increasingly terrible sequels (I have always had a soft spot for the Howling V, however, and no love at all for Howling IV). Growing up, I had no love at all for the Howling II. I watched it soon after my first viewing of the original, and couldn’t believe that this film would be what followed. I think my 12-15 year old lacked a cinematic sense of humor.
It has been at least 15 years since my last viewing of a Howling sequel, and the Scream Factory Blu-ray of the Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf (aka Stirba: Werewolf Bitch) arrived on my door, coincidentally on the same week that Sir Christopher Lee one of the stars of the film, and also my favorite actor of all time passed away (R.I.P. Sir Christopher). It was interesting timing, and of course living my life via cinematic lottery (if it's in my mail box, it gets watched, unless it is pre-planned for another staffer)I popped it into my player, and was much more than pleasantly surprised.
The film takes place just days after the conclusion of the original film, and opens on the funeral of Karen White (Dee Wallace in the original, Hana Ludvikova here). A mysterious man Stefan(Christopher Lee) observes the funeral from a distance, and at it's conclusion approaches Karen's brother, Ben (Reb Brown), and her co-worker Jenny (Annie McEnroe) with the suggestion that Karen was a werewolf when she was killed on camera, and then only way to permanently end her is to stake her (much like a vampire), and that her crypt will be observed by other lycanthropes waiting for her to rise and join them. That night, Stefan returns to do the staking, but is interrupted by Ben who believes him to be doing nothing more than simple grave and bodily desecration. That is until Karen returns as a werewolf, and other werewolves get on the attack. It is at that point that Stefan manages to convince the pair not only of the werewolves existence, but to accompany him to Eastern Europe to the town where Stirba: Queen of the Werewolves will celebrate her 10,000th birthday. on that day the werewolves will make themselves known to the public, and attempt to take over the world unless Stefan, Ben, Jen, and some villagers can put a stop to Stirba, and her werewolf crew.
Philippe Mora (The Beast Within) seems to take the bare essentials from the earlier Dante movie, and make the Howling II it's own proverbial beast (pun very much intended). The film takes the earlier films pre-occuptation with sex, adds a layer of fetishism, and then adds an element of New Wave/Punk culture to the whole thing. We then get a nice Eastern European locale used reasonably well. The main cast fits their roles reasonably well, though Reb Brown and Annie McEnroe certainly have their work cut out out for them standing up alongside genre heavyweights Christopher Lee and Sybil Danning, who regardless of the silliness of some of the material truly offer their all. The film runs a reasonable 91 minutes, yet still feels a tad overlong. Regardless, Howling II ends up being a solid blast of cinematic weirdness that does not deserve the derision it has received these last decades.
Scream Factory does quite a good job with Howling II on Blu-ray. The transfer provided is a 1:85:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer. There is a nice level of clarity here, good detail present, black levels are solid, flesh tones are accurate, and there is a nice level of grain throughout. There are some soft spots on occasion, and some minor instances of damage from the source, but nothing major.
The audio is presented in a DTS-HD Mono track in English. The track works reasonable well with the dialogue, score, and effects coming through nicely. I did not detect any issues such as pops, cracks, or hissing on the track.
Scream Factory didn't label this an SE oddly enough, because there is enough on this disc to make it so. There are 2 commentary tracks, multiple interviews, a behind the scenes featurette, trailers, galleries, and more. They really gave this one some very nice attention.
I remember not liking Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf as a young horror fan. Now, I find it a complete fun ride of a movie, and the Blu-ray from Scream Factory really helped bring the film to life. The A/V is solid all around, and the sheer amount of extras really ups the purchase factor on this one. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.