Tuesday, April 1, 2008

White Elephant: Howling 2: ...Your Sister is a Werewolf

Check out the other entries in the 2nd Annual White Elephant Film Blogathon over at LucidScreening.com!

Christopher Lee Addresses Space

Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf is a film that speaks directly to its audience in more ways than one. Firstly, the title serves as a wake up call informing you, yes you, that your sister is a werewolf. With this understood, Stefan Crosscoe (Christopher Lee), Occult Investigator, appears out of the stars (with a foreboding skeleton over his shoulder) to read the audience a passage from an ancient text:

For it is written: The inhabitants of the Earth have been made drunk with her blood. And I saw her sit upon the hairy beast and she held forth a golden chalice full of the filthiness of fornications. And upon her forehead was written: "Behold! I am the great mother of harlots and all abominations of the Earth."

Some of this prologue is metaphoric, some of it is quite literal.

Attempting to scrutinize the labyrinthine sexual politics of Howling II in a short essay is either a very ambitious undertaking, or a very naive one, I will be the first to admit. But as mountaineer George H. L. Mallory once said of his great love and eventual killer, “[I must climb Everest] because it is there.”

Director Philippe Mora is not afraid to wax misogynistic in the name of Christian morality. In the world of Howling 2, women are weak at best, evil at worst. Only men, armed with silver bullets, stakes, and holy hand grenades, can save the world from female-dominated damnation. Stirba (Sybil Danning), the 10,000-year-old queen of the werewolves, intends to reverse the process of evolution by transforming everyone on the planet into sex-crazed, bloodthirsty beasts. She has two main lieutenants in her werewolf commune. The first is Mariana (played by “Brown Sugar” inspiration Marsha A. Hunt), a British woman who haunts the deviant-infested night clubs of Los Angeles, or as the film ironically calls it, “City of the Angels.” Stefan says of Mariana, “She is one of the most vicious and one of the most dangerous kind because she is immune. Silver bullets are useless against such creatures. Quite useless. Only titanium will kill them.” Fortunately, Stefan has a well-stocked supply of titanium stakes. Vlad (Omen Judd), Stirba’s other lieutenant, is a swarthy werewolf from “The Dark Country” of Transylvania. He perhaps benefits most from his transformations as it negates his rapidly receding hairline.

Together, Stirba, Mariana, and Vlad form an Unholy Trinity that has more hairy, uncoordinated werewolf sex than anyone would care to view. Their perverse ménage-à-trois is juxtaposed (via a tasteful diamond-wipe) with the more “natural” coupling of our two protagonists: Ben White (white=pure) and Jenny Templeton (a ton of temples), played by Reb Brown and Annie McEnroe, respectively. Their intercourse is brief, up against a wall, and Ben seems to be able to please Jenny with his jeans still on. In other words, it's done properly. One could even argue that they only give in to temptation because they are staying in hotel room 666 in, “The Dark Country.” Furthermore, the sex is clearly Jenny’s (i.e. the woman’s) idea. When Ben suggests they stay in separate rooms, Jenny tells the hotel manager “One room will be fine.” Minutes later, she breaks down and cries, “I need you to hold me, Ben.” He replies with a resigned but compassionate, “Yeah.” Does the book of Genesis ring any bells?

Much later, Jenny is lured away from Ben by a young Romanian werewolf who seeks to rape her. But the attack is interrupted by Stirba, who wishes to turn Jenny into a lusty werewolf like the rest of her army. Vlad smears Jenny’s face with the blood of the lamb and threatens, “You will know pleasures such as you have never imagined.” The bound and gagged Jenny silently prays that Ben and his chastity-jeans can save her from such a fate.

That night, Stirba hosts an orgy of leather-clad female werewolves. The women writhe around on the floor, pleasing each other while old men wearing 18th century-style wigs watch and giggle maniacally. The company is simultaneously entertained by a punk band called Babel, whose repertoire mainly consists of a song about the “Pale pale light of the moonglow.” This is something of a surprise as they were last seen playing in Los Angeles at the night club in which Mariana would select her prey. We shudder to think that Jenny could become one of those beautiful, lesbian nymphs enjoying terrible music if she’s not saved quickly.

Thankfully, Ben, Stefan, a priest, a dwarf, and two other holy men are dedicated to destroying Stirba and eradicating her kind. Vasile, the dwarf, is the first to fall. Stirba electrifies his head with her mysterious ultra-lycanthrope powers, making the little warrior’s eyeballs burst out of his head. The remaining five men draw up their courage and storm Stirba’s fortress. The reverend and the two redshirts are mutilated in short order, leaving Ben to easily dispatch Mariana and Vlad, while Stefan faces off against Stirba.

The final confrontation between Stefan and Stirba is a revealing one. Stirba calls to Stefan seductively, referring to him as her “brother.” She offers him power and incestuous love, a tempting offer to be sure. Though Stefan will not turn to the dark side, his morality directly conflicts with his emotion. As he stabs her, a wave of melancholy sweeps over his face. He has killed his sister, whom he both loves and hates. We come to realize: His sister is a werewolf too. In seconds, the siblings are consumed in flame and the werewolf menace is halted... for now!

Chris Lee Blends In

Without a doubt, the lupine liberation movement was a direct threat to a heterosexual, patriarchal, Christian society. And though Stirba was defeated, the montage during the end credits reminds us that brave dwarves still die every day, that people like Stirba are ready to throw away morality as quickly as they can bare their breasts (a shot of Stirba swiftly disrobing is replayed a staggering seventeen times to fully hit the point home), and that for all of the good that Ben, Jenny, and Stefan accomplished, Babel is still on the loose.

The film is surprisingly relevant twenty-three years later, as we prepare to potentially elect our first female president. I doubt that I would be the first person to call Philippe Mora a prophet, but surely he deserves credit for anticipating that such a time would come to pass. Mora’s message for you to take to the election booth is this: An ambitious woman will be the death of us all. Men must unite, with God by their side and subservient women quietly behind them, to reclaim the planet. As such, the next seven months could very well determine the fate of the soul of the entire human race.

And that is why I support Barack Obama.


Ali Arikan said...

That photo of Christopher Lee with the shades is seven kinds of funny.

Piper said...

Sybil Danning with furry boobs. Love it.

Nor said...

amazing. simply amazing.