APRIL 29, 2008
I had to make a tough decision when choosing today’s movie. With a newly purchased copy of GTAIV in my hands, I really didn’t want to stop playing in order to watch my 500th horror movie in a row (give or take). So I thought about it, and decided that the film I watched had to be something I probably wouldn’t like anyway, rather than unfairly “waste” a good movie on a day when I would be watching the clock more than the film. So really, is there any better candidate than Howling II? Let’s look at the facts – I didn’t like the original very much; Christopher Lee, the film’s STAR, considers it the worst film he’s ever done (even after he made Attack of the Clones); and it’s been almost universally derided by everyone else for the past 20 years or so. In fact, in all of my life, I’ve only encountered one man who liked it, and this sod also likes, well, Attack of the Clones. So I figured it was a safe bet, and it’s reasonably running time ensured it wouldn’t be too long before I was back punching hookers in the face and running over cops. Not to mention - more time to play GTAIV.
To be honest, the film wasn’t exactly a train wreck. Well, it WAS, but in a mostly enjoyable way. It took a while, but eventually the nonsensical storyline, haphazard directing/editing, abysmally awkward scene transitions, and just plain cheapness of the film sort of won me over. It’s impossible to hate a film in which we get a clock wipe to a scene of three werewolves (two women one man) engaging in a ménage a trois, while the man makes this wonderful, almost melancholy musical howl. Then they checker wipe to a midget or something.
Yes, wipes. It’s as if the editor just got the Avid “transition” package (and a time machine, I guess, since Avids weren’t around then) and was determined to use each and every one of them in the film, regardless of sense. And you really can’t blame him for such proclivities, as few scenes in the film ever really connect to the ones before or after them (from either a visual or storytelling standpoint). For example, at one point our bland hero and blander heroine check into a hotel. He asks for two rooms, and is visibly angry that they have to share one. And yet, 12 or so seconds later, she asks him for a hug and he goes right into some good ol’ “against the wall” fucking. Why’d you want two rooms if you could hardly wait for the bellhop to leave before engaging in the film’s only non-werewolf based sex scene? The whole movie is like a cinematic non sequitur.
For a sequel in which not a single cast or crew member returned (Dee Wallace’s corpse is played by a woman who couldn’t look less like Dee Wallace if she tried), it actually does a decent job of retaining the original’s themes. “Werewolf as cult”, bestiality, boring dialogue scenes... they’re all here, just as they were in Joe Dante’s original. The only major difference is the pitiful effects. Whereas Rob Bottin’s work in the original continues to impress, this shit couldn’t even have been admirable in 1985. At one point you can pretty much see where the wolf arm ended on the human performer, and there are no full-blown transformation scenes either (we just see close-ups of things like arms and back hair). A mid 80s horror movie where the makeup effects are the WORST thing about it? This movie’s puzzling nature never ceases!
What say you?