How The Howling sequel could have been SO much better...
- Horror fans from all over can agree on one thing.
The Howling II Your Sister Is A Werewolf is a truly awful movie.
Man oh man did they screw the pooch with this one. Honestly a sequel was destined to happen. The film was successful, featured top notch special effects (which it was technically was the first full on camera transformation with very few cuts since it had been released in theaters several months before An American Werewolf In London.) which don't get me wrong. I love that movie for many reasons. But I've always been team Howling.
Released in 1981 "The year of the werewolf" Joe Dante did for werewolves like he did for Piranhas. His visual style is striking with a script that pulls you in with a gritty new approach to monsters that have been in cinema for decades. The big standout in this movie is the special effects. Originally started by Rick Barker (who would leave this project to go work on American Werewolf, which ended up winning him an Oscar. Rob Bottin took over, and I really have to say yet again, I just so happen to prefer this transformation than London.) I always found the designs on the wolfs fascinating since instead of being on all fours, they stood towering on two legs. Also the transformation of Eddie Quist (played brilliantly by Robert Picardo) I find downright stronger when compared to London. I actually really liked the bladders, since he showed how his actual physical state was changing, as his skin expanded, muscles stretched, and bone structure grew larger. I love the shot of his eyes turning green and turning backwards. Also The Bright Boy scene with him having returned back to his 'normal' state, but how horribly burned with half of his skull showing. Honestly it's so gross it's downright insane.
The entire showdown at the end of the residents of The Colony explaining to Doc that it isn't normal for them to try and be conditioned and live among humans isn't normal. Here we see the cast really giving it their all, and The Howling pays tribute to classic monster movies.
With likable characters that you actually care about, led by the gorgeous Dee Wallace Stone, we see her character Karen White give a scarfice after getting bit while escaping The Colony with her friend Chris, tearfully knowing there won't be any saving her, and how she needs to tell the world the truth of this hidden society and make them believe. The next night she witness as she's finally back in front of the camera since her last freeze up following her attack from Eddie. She begins reading about the secret society that is neither human nor man...but something in-between. When Fred the producer tries to put a stop to things, Chris screams for them to leave it, before Karen lifts her bowed head, showing glowing gold eyes telling audiences from all over watching that she'll make them believe. Screaming in pain, there before the nation's eyes she transforms into a pretty adorable werewolf, sniffling, and crying before Chris uses his rifle to put her out of her misery.
The news switches to a dog food commercial as people who were watching all shrug off what happened as some special effects stunt and don't take it seriously. Here the last shot reveals that Marsha Quist escaped the burning barn, and is the last surviving member of The Colony as she orders a burger rare, smiling and looking straight at the camera into the audience breaking the forth wall. A wink to the aduaince, and leaving the door open for a sequel.
Well...we got a sequel all right, but not the sequel we expected.
We all figured the sequel would follow Marsha Quist as the new villain, but instead gears were shifted after the actress who played her passed on the project. (Can't say I really blame her) so the story was told that Karen White's brother (a brand new character introduced in part 2.) is trying to track down his sister's killer (they never explain what happened to Chris so either he was sent to prison for shooting Karen, or turned the gun on himself.) Here we follow Karen's brother as he ventures to Transylvania where Stirba (Sybil Danning) a queen werewolf rules. Guys, I can't even...this movie is such a flipping mess. I remember renting it years ago and ended up even getting the VHS at a flea market for collecting purposes more than anything, but this movie man oh man...where do I even begin?
Dee Wallace was another one who was smart enough to stay far away from this project as they took the memory of our beloved character Karen White and dragged it through dog shit. The only thing I really remember from this movie is that Christopher Lee is in it (Joe Dante said that he even apologized to him while on set of Gremlins 2 for appearing in such a terrible sequel to his original film.) and that there's a credit music video montage of clips from the movie, where it shows over and over Sybil Danning ripping her leather dress off over and over and over. If you played a drinking game to this movie and took a shot every time you saw this woman's tits you would truly be white girl wasted.
All of the sequels really aren't any walk in the park. Part three aka the movie about the werewolf down under is a total mess itself, but is charming in a strange way. Part 4 the original nightmare follows the first novel more closely, and features some amazing effects by Steven Johnson, and that catchy theme song. "Something Evillllll Something dangerousssss." I actually love The Freaks, and even though I haven't seen the others, I own a few of them on tape, and heard they are true pieces of shit. I'm actually pretty stunned this cult classic hasn't been remade. (Please dear lord let that never happen.)
With great memories of this being one of my late mother's all time favorites, I re-visited it for it's 40th anniversary, and fell in love with this stunning classic all over again. I own it on tape, dvd, blu-ray, and I'm forever on the hunt trying to find it on laserdisc. In fact, this movie, Christine, Waxwork, and Children Of The Corn hold the title for being a movie I own multiple copies of. We're talking 7+. (I'm not joking.) Still, every Friday I'm holding onto hope that Joe Bob Briggs and Darcy will show it at The Last Drive In since it's streaming currently on Shudder. This is one of those classic horror movies I will always recommend to anyone. In fact, just last week by good friends Melissa and Brandon watched it. Brandon had seen it years ago, and this was the first time for Melissa. When we talked about it, she brought up a pretty good point. The best character in the entire movie was barley in it.
This is her personal opinion was that she was sorta bored with the Karen White going up to The Colony storyline. That she would have rather followed Eddie after his so called "fatal" encounter, while slowly making his way back to The Colony.
She brought up some cool points, but I love the first Howling...but I do agree with one thing. Not enough Eddie. But I wouldn't have changed the script. I would have made that story into the sequel...
In fact...I would make part 2 as a prequel.
I was inspired after discovering the coolest thing. A very talented composer - The Astral Stereo Project who made a prequel album he wrote and composed entirely himself paying homage to the original Dante werewolf classic. It's a truly beautiful synth filled soundtrack called The Mind Of Eddie Quist. I spoke with the artist behind the album (which has been blasting on repeat constantly lately.) The entire album is for sale on the app/website Band Camp and is highly recommended. This album is what inspired me to think of this article.
I feel the sequel to The Howling should have shown Eddie living in Los Angeles, and becoming Eddie The Mangler. The crazed psychopath serial killer, stalking the streets of the city at night, and discovering Karen White and becoming obsessed with her. Maybe we could learn how Eddie and his siblings came about being turned into werewolf's and how they became involved with living at The Colony. Were they always this disturbed? Who turned them all? What started Eddie on his rampage? How many victims did he kill? Were they just women? How were the police involved, and best of all...how did he become obsessed with Karen White?
I always found the subplot of him calling her, and her being the only chance in setting a trap in finally stopping him during his rampage in the city fascinating . I loved that Doc was "coaching" her in how to speak to Eddie. The fact that Doc knew who he was the entire time is very clever, and one of my favorite scenes in The Howling is when Chris and Terry arrive with photographs from Eddie's sketches, telling him about how they are doing research on an hour long special called "The Mind Of Eddie Quist." which Doc asks how they found out his last name? They point out he signed his work, where Doc gives little to no emotion, before smirking and going...
"Ah yes, he did."
After viewing this movie and seeing the twist, you have to chuckle. Doc doesn't look happy. His biggest fear is risk of exposure. I would have loved to see Doc interacting with Eddie. Did they speak while he was in the middle of his killings? Did he encourage it for an inn to promote his book/teachings on the news station? Was he horrified and tried to reason with him to stop? What were his thoughts about Eddie's obsession with Karen White? I believe Eddie didn't want to kill Karen originally. I think his original plan was to turn, bite her, and turn her to have a mate. That's why he looks so disgusted before he gives her a "piece" of his mind when he says right before digging the bullet out "I trusted you Karen." I feel watching a prequel about a crazed serial killer stalking the seedy areas of Los Angeles, while the big twist is that this isn't some run of the mill slasher movie, no...our killer is a werewolf.
There was so much more story I think we could have seen, and maybe even at the end give a tease after the events of the first film with Marsha still alive, or have it end with Eddie sticking his famous calling card (the smiley face sticker) onto the phone inside the phone booth before walking away, head down low, hands in pockets, passing all of the ladies of the night, neon, and darkness.
Ah if only. Who knows, in this dreamworld, I would have Joe Dante direct, Dee Wallace, and Robert Picardo, along with several other original cast members return. I would have the special effects really be as gross and as slobbering as possible, and just crank up the little wolf nods for the audience.
I think really I just wanted to see more of Robert Picardo who's first leading role was playing Eddie Quist which began a 40 year old friendship as much like Dick Miller, he became a Dante staple. (am I the only one who wishes he played a larger part in The Burbs?) His role of Eddie Quist really stole the show. In fact I even booked my next tattoo to be of him. My favorite scene in the movie is when he appears as a human to Karen with those red eyes. He only has several lines, but you can tell what a great actor he is, really bringing in the creep factor. I love him stepping forward grinning, eyes shinning red telling Karen to look at him. That's the image I want tattooed on me.
I love audio commentaries, and one of my favorites is of Joe Dante, the late Chris Stone, Dee Wallace, and Robert Picardo. My favorite part has to be doing the "Bright Boy" scene, where it's so ridiculous over how gross Robert looks, where he explains how he was sitting there in all of that over the top makeup, asking aloud to himself questioning if this was a good career move since his last job was a play on Broadway? A fellow actor told him "Rob...next time...read the script." You seriously need to listen to it, since the cast breaks up laughing, and you can honestly see what a ball they had making this movie.
In another interview Picardo mentions to Joe Dante that back in 1984 he ran into Robert Englund and took an elevator with him who mentioned that he had just made this really cool low budget movie, where he played the Eddie Quist part, and thought of him when he got into character. You can tell Englund really was a fan, seeing that he cast him in a pretty important role in 976 Evil.
I can only hope once all this COVID bullshit is over I can meet Picardo after getting my tattoo, and have him sign the Mind Of Eddie Quist album cover. He seriously could have been the next Freddy of they kept him alive. Picardo was so good, he could have been playing Eddie for several sequels and still keep it going strong!