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MGM Studios DVD presents
Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf (1986)

"For it is written: The inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with her blood."
- Stefan Crosscoe (Christopher Lee)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: September 20, 2005

Stars: Christopher Lee, Annie McEnroe, Reb Brown
Other Stars: Marsha A. Hunt, Sybil Danning
Director: Philippe Mora

MPAA Rating: R for (strong violence, gore, adult language)
Run Time: 01h:30m:47s
Release Date: September 20, 2005
UPC: 027616926654
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
D+ C-B-C D

DVD Review

Joe Dante's darkly comedic horror film, The Howling ranks right up there with An American Werewolf in London as far as lycanthropic films go. Following the success of Dante's film comes Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf, released in theaters in 1986, which pales in comparison. This sequel was a box-office flop, but was a staple on cable TV in the late 1980s and early '90s, generating a mild cult following that has been waiting quite some time for this DVD release. To date, there have been five more Howling sequels produced, but, given that the last one came out in 1995, it just might be safe to say that there won't be any more.

Howling II ties itself to the original by opening at the funeral for Ben's (Reb Brown) sister, Karen White, who was killed by werewolves in the first film. Ben can't even watch his sister be buried, as he meets an investigator of the occult, played by horror icon Christopher Lee. This man, Stefan Crosscoe, tells Ben that his sister was indeed murdered by werewolves and proceeds to instruct him on how to prevent her dead body from being reanimated and becoming one of the beasts as well. A skeptic at first, Ben and his friend Jenny (Annie McEnroe) eventually decide to follow Stefan to his sister's grave. When they are attacked by werewolves, they decide that Stefan might not be as crazy he seemed.

While all of this is going on, Mariana (Marsha A. Hunt), a new-wave, typical '80s style-loving girl, is making her rounds in a club called The Slammer. It turns out that Mariana is a werewolf with a penchant for luring men back to a warehouse and, well, eating them. As these attacks increase, Ben, Jenny, and Stefan travel to Transylvania, where they arrive just in time for the rebirth of Stirba (Sybil Danning), the werewolf queen. It's up to this make-shift werewolf hunting trio to save the world from a complete lycanthropic takeover.

Howling II is pure B-movie cheese. Relying heavily on '80s special effects makeup, cheap scares and not much else, the film basically plods along aimlessly for about an hour and a half. Sure, we get plenty of gratuitous nudity and what some might consider to be sex (in this case, often very hairy sex), but as far as having an engaging story or being even remotely scary, this project completely misses the boat. The acting is beyond wooden, and even the great Christopher Lee seems to be almost sleepwalking through his performance. Hunt and Brown have little to no chemistry, and it doesn't take long before we start wishing that the actors playing the werewolves would just start eating each other as well as everyone else.

Still, the incredibly sexy Sybil Danning just might be enough to recommend Howling II to the male population. Yeah, she does a ton of topless strutting (I think the only walking movement she knows is in the form of a strut), but even in the pathetically over-the-top "priestess" outfits she wears, Ms. Danning is a stunner. Along with her glorious assets, she also seems to be having a whale of a time with this hapless role. She has crafted one of the more memorable B-movie villains in the last few decades, actually. I didn't remember much about Howling II in the 15 or so years since I had seen it last, but I sure as heck remembered the presence of Sybil Danning, and, after revisiting the film now that it's finally on DVD, I'll be remembering this performance even more vividly for many years to come.

Rating for Style: D+
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - P&S
Original Aspect Ratioyesno

Image Transfer Review: There are a pair of options for the video presentation: a doctored pan-and-scan version, and a nice, cleaned-up 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen one. The latter is the obvious choice, exuding nice detail during much of the film. There is still that soft, '80s cable-TV look that many films of the era just can't avoid, but I was impressed by the vivid, lively color scheme that had never been present in other home video or TV appearances. Not all of the grain, dirt, and other print flaws are gone, but this is to be expected from such a low-budget, B-movie like this one.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Spanishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The audio is the original mono soundtrack, which does the best it can to give us the best sounding mix possible, given the constraints of the format. The groan-inducing dialogue is never muddled, and the music or sound effects are never muffled or distorted.

Audio Transfer Grade: C


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Keep Case
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The only extra feature is the theatrical trailer for Howling II.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

Sybil Danning is really the only reason to give Howling II a look, now that MGM Home Video has finally made it available on DVD. This video transfer is surprisingly good, and the audio suits the film just fine, but, aside from the cheesier-than-the-movie trailer, there aren't any extras to mention.


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