Published Jul 14, 2015During the final credits of Howling II, Philippe Mora's perplexingly bad sequel to the above-average 1981 horror classic, The Howling, Sybil Danning's topless scene — she's a werewolf Queen that rips off her top lustfully when she tasks a new pup to breed with an alpha-male — is flashed over a dozen times. While there's nothing surprising about the basic exploitation of the female anatomy in a mid-'80s horror movie, the sort of gleeful sexism and genuine lack of respect involved in creating a gag like this — one that heightens objectification to the point of insult and active denigration — really speaks to the level of maturity and competence involved in this production.
Danning discusses this in the interview supplement included with Shout Factory's Blu-ray release. She notes that while she was fine with doing the nudity in the context of the movie, there was something extremely discomforting about sitting at the theatrical premiere and watching men yell and laugh hysterically at the image of her breasts flashing on-screen repeatedly. She fled the theatre before she had to confront any of these people in person, later complaining about it to the executive producer. The compromise was this: rather than have the shot edited into the final credits several dozen times, they would cut it down to 17 instances.
Outside of the gratuitous nudity and multiple orgy scenes — all of which involve an abundance of naked women and men with their pants on — Howling II follows Ben White (Reb Brown), the brother of Dee Wallace's reporter character in The Howling, as he investigates her death. Along with his girlfriend Jenny (Annie McEnroe, delivering one of the most bizarre screen performances ever captured on film), he reaches out to Stefan Crosscoe (Christopher Lee, who later apologized to Joe Dante — the director of the first Howling — for appearing in this film), a sort of werewolf expert that claims an event is coming that will allow werewolves to take over the world. And, as is logical with a forthcoming apocalypse and an outbreak of lycanthropes killing an endless array of interchangeable punks (the enemies of the Republican status quo in the early '80s), they head off to Transylvania with limited weaponry and resources to battle Stirba (Danning) and a legion of animalistic killing machines.
It's important to note that this werewolf Queen, in addition to having a personal designer to create form-fitting leather outfits for her, has her own band. Every time she announces a proclamation, they play. Every time an orgy ensues or someone shoves a gargoyle down a priest's throat, they play. In short, she really has her underground cave lair decked out.
While the sheer lack of logic that goes into virtually every scene of the film, exacerbated by some terrible day-for-night scenes and completely disengaged, almost drunken, acting, adds some unintentional hilarity to Howling II, it's also quite tiresome. The basic shot composition is incompetent and the story doesn't quite fit together, so it's often challenging to figure out why the characters are doing what they're doing. Although, since the many nude scenes and werewolf sex scenes are properly lit and shot with a bit of consideration, it's clear that the director, Philippe Mora, was fully aware that anything not involving naked women or cheap, unconvincing gore was secondary and unimportant. Even amidst a landscape of crappy '80s horror, Howling II was one of the worst.
The Blu-ray also includes an interview with Reb Brown, a man whose past ability to do 1,000 push-ups a day surely compensates for his sweetly simplistic understanding of the world around him.