Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Howling 2

I hope I’m not ruining my horror cred here when I admit that I’ve never particularly been a fan of the original Howling. While I do normally think Joe Dante is a fantastic director (I’ve seen most of his other films and liked or loved all of them), the difficulties in making a werewolf movie that isn’t lousy were apparently too much for him to overcome at such an early stage in his career. I do still understand why so many werewolf fans list it as one of the best werewolf movies ever made, of course, as the standards of that genre are so low that it actually is. One might ask why, when I didn’t really care for the original, did I decide to buy the second one, and I don’t really have a feasible answer for you, beyond that it was cheap (on sale for $4 at Amazon for their Halloween sale) and I do a lot of impulse shopping.

At any rate, I am glad I saw this movie. Not because it’s good, mind you, but because it’s so batshit insane that it just can’t bring itself to be boring at any moment. It’s the sort of movie where you’ll get an evil midget taking off his Punch mask (from Punch & Judy, something I’m sure none of you clever readers need explained) and stabbing someone before another character rushes him and throws him out a second story window where he’s impaled on spikes below. It’s the sort of movie where Christopher Lee, going against all sanity and logic, is actually one of the heroes instead of a villain. It’s the sort of movie where (I sweat this actually happens) he takes out a werewolf with a holy hand grenade. Brilliant.

I can’t really do a full paragraph on the plot with this film, because it was all so disjointed and weird that I honestly couldn’t follow it at all. The film’s subtitle is “Your Sister is a Werewolf”, which is something Lee informs a young lady at the beginning, when he tries to recruit her and her boyfriend into his lycanthrope hunting crew. Apparently, there’s a secret cult of werewolves (led by Sybil Danning) plotting to take over the world entire, evidently by wearing skimpy bondage gear (!) and using their magical powers (!!!) like when Danning shoots red lightning from her fingertips, causing a man’s face to abruptly turn into a rubber mask with blood pouring out of the eyes (along with a sound effect that makes me suspect we’re meant to think his eyes actually exploded, even though they’re still there). Anyway, they must all be stopped for the good of the world. Also, much is made of them transforming with the full moon, and yet several times one of them attacks in broad daylight, because consistency is for fools.

But really, consistency and its brother coherency are not what one watches a film like this for (at least I hope not). No, we watch movies like this because they show that an American director like Philippe Mora (IMDB tells me he’s a Frenchman that’s spent most of his life living in Australia and England, but clearly the site has been tampered with by foreign agents) can make a movie just as wild and crazy as a Japanese director might have made. And if it’s one that happens to have a good deal of blood and nudity in it as well, then that’s just all for the better (the scene where Danning rips off her top and shows the goods is so nice, in fact that they replay it about a dozen times over the end credits, which is really how all movies should end).

Of course, those going in hoping for a good werewolf movie are probably going to be rather disappointed. Half of the werewolves are killed with things other than silver, they sometimes show up in the daytime, they have magical powers somehow, and they look more like rejected models from Planet of the Apes than actual werewolves. The constant religious iconography might be a turn off as well, as they’re blatantly stealing a theme from the much more popular vampire genre in the clear assumption that it was the religious element to vampires that made them so much more popular. Still, despite the obvious disregard the filmmakers had for the genre they were working with, it was hard for me to avoid being entertained for the bulk of the film. It’s messy, stupid, and crazy, and you could do much worse than to catch this during your next werewolf movie marathon. Don’t lie to me, I know that you have them.

Rating: **

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