Sunday, 15 December 2013

Your Sister was a Werewolf and your Father Smelled of Elderberries!

Don't ask why, but I felt like writing about something and that something happened to be a variety of werewolf movie sequels from the 80's. And why not, it's not as if this blog's format wouldn't allow for me to fulfill such urges.

The Howling 2: Stirba the Werewold Bitch (USA/UK, 1985)
Director: Philippe Mora

There are several names for the sequel for Joe Dante's tongue-in-cheek cult film, and I of course use the one which I prefer. This film is also known as The Howling II: Return and The Howling II: Your sister is a Werewolf, which, while an actual quote from the film, doesn't quite have the same catchiness to it.

This is one of those cheapo films where they somehow had tricked Christopher Lee himself to act in, of which the legendary actor has felt nothing but regret since. Lee is one of my very favorite actors of all time, since there isn't a title so lowly that he couldn't liven it up with his undeniable charisma, grace and style. The film returns the favor by having him go to a punk rock club incognito and dressing him up in silly new wave sunglasses. The film is perhaps even a bit more clearer a comedy than its predecessor.

The film begins with the funeral of Karen White, the main character from Dante's film. Karen's brother Ben (Reb Brown) hears the truth from an attending werewolf hunter, Stefan Crosscoe (Lee). He convinces Ben to travel to Transylvania, along with his new girlfriend Jenny (Annie McEnroe) to kill the werewolf pack alpha bitch, the 10,000-year-old Stirba. She (in the form of Sybil Danning) hosts occult bisexual orgies at her castle and spreads werewolfism around the globe. Unless she's destroyed, she'll take over the world!

There's no denying this film's cheesiness, but there's a lot of an endearing quality to it. The film views all of the Balkans as a backwater area, where people still live like in Mediaval times and have an ethnic festival going all year. There's a good Euro-sleaze athmosphere going on in the scenes taking place in Stirba's castle.

There's lesbian undertones, dwarves, spanking, a horrible giant bat effect and other craziness going on all around. It's all in good fun and one can't help being entertained by all these horror tropes done suitably well and rolling along in a fast enough pace. The actors (sans Lee) are of course atrocious. Just as you think the film has ended and ran out of ideas, they have a final one in their bag: As the post-punk band Babel reprises their song The Howling during the end credits, footage of Sybil Danning revealing her massive breasts, cut next to various characters in the film reacting in humorous ways. Incredible.

★ or ★★★★★

The Howling III: The Marsupials (Australia, 1987)
Director: Philippe Mora

It seems Philippe Mora still had plenty of more ideas on where to take his werewolf franchise. It also seems he may have had too many ideas about the matter. The third Howling is shot entirely in good ole Australia, and in the patented ozploitation style.

While the werewolf population of Earth suffered a massive blow in the previous installment, some still survive. Case in point is Australia, which has evolved a wholly seperate population of werewolves that have pouches. The anthropologist Professor Harry Breckmeyer (Barry Otto) sees odd wolf-like creatures in old-time footage of aborigine rituals. So he naturally goes to The President Of United States to tell his suspicions of a weird, wolf-like tribe living in the bush.

Meanwhile, among the real wolf tribe, a young girl named Jerboa (Imogen Annesley) flees to Sydney. She catches the eye of a movie producer Donny (Lee Biolos) and is soon picked as a lead for a cheap horror movie. Jerboa and Donny fall in love. But she has to flee again as he realizes she's a bit hairier than he originally saw.

All sorts of crazy bullshit goes on. The film has poor grasp of a central story and there's ever-more left-wing twists to take the film to unsuspected territories. It gives an expression of a formless blob of a movie rather than a quirky comedy with surprises. While there are many fun parts early on (like the movie shoot and wrap-up party), sadly the film's additional scenes are often boring, such as the extended time jump of a werewolves raising a family in the woods. The final scenes bring the film full circle, but it's a bit too little, too late.

The film is admirably crazy, though and at least it's closer to Dante's original than either the first or second sequel in the same series.


The Howling IV: The Original Nightmare (USA, 1988)
Director: John Hough

Let's not even go there. Attempts to be a more serious werewolf affair, fails in almost every aspect. Save for a puddle-based transformation scene, a total waste of time.

Teen Wolf Too (USA, 1987)
Director: Christopher Leitch

Rather, let's talk about the sequel to Michael J. Fox's on-the-nose puberty metaphor movie, shall we? It is considered to be one of the worst sequels of all time, and it's not hard to see why. For a comedy, it sure is an unfunny affair, and often doesn't seem to be trying that much.

The movie follows the cousin of Fox's Scott, Todd Howard (Jason Bateman). Everyone is aware that the Howards are werewolves, his uncle Harold (James Hampton) for instance being rather open about it. Rather than fearing the undead, unholy bloodthirsty beasts, this awakens curiosity and enthusiasm in normal people. Todd has gotten a college scholarship in order to bring the Hamilton University's boxing team some fame and glory. But Todd would rather just focus on his studies to become a veterinarian.

Yeah, the puberty undertones aren't that under in this one, either.

For one, the film forgot to add any jokes into its supposedly funny set-up. Scenes have incredibly poor comic timing. Often times it seems that the set up is going towards a punchline, but since the writers couldn't come up with anything humorous, the cast members just react a while and the scene moves on to the next one. It is a bit silly seeing Jason Bateman as a teen heart-throb and a lot of space is given shooting his cute smile spreading to his face. Less funny are the rubberfaced antics of his buddy Chubby (Mark Holton) that soon grow tiresome. John Astin as the cruddy old dean comes across as creepy as he can for no proper reason.

Boxing is an odd choice for the sport to be featured in a college comedy. Here it functions basically the same as in the Rocky movies: all punches, little moving around or blocking. The matches themselves feel like re-hashes of Karate Kid movies with their snooty rivals and whatnot, and not even the good ones. The most memorable thing about the movie is the godawful female mullett on Kim Darby, playing Todd's professor.


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