The ‘80s babies at Scream Factory have done it again: Howling II is the one of the last movies from that era that you would expect to get the spe­cial edi­tion treat­ment… and yet, here it is in high-def with spe­cial fea­tures a-plen­ty. Whatever its fail­ings as a prop­er hor­ror movie, it has acquired a camp clas­sic cachet in cer­tain cult movie cir­cles and has a fas­ci­nat­ing sto­ry behind it. Thankfully for the bad movie fans, this new disc takes you deep into that strange sto­ry.

Howling2-bluYou can crit­i­cize Howling II for a lot of things but the cin­e­matog­ra­phy is not one of them. Indeed, Geoffrey Stephenson’s cam­er­a­work is often quite atmos­pher­ic and makes love­ly use of the film’s Czech locales. This trans­fer does well by its look, cap­tur­ing the loca­tion stuff with nice depth and col­or and han­dling the fre­quent night pho­tog­ra­phy well. The loss­less mono track is nice­ly mixed and uses the goth-rock score to nice effect.

The extras begin with two com­men­tary tracks. The first fea­tures direc­tor Philippe Mora with mod­er­a­tor and extras pro­duc­er Michael Felsher. Mora has fun talk­ing about his mis­ad­ven­tures on the film, which include being shipped ape suits for his were­wolves, deal­ing with KGB agents in Czechoslovakia and a hilar­i­ous tale about the tech­ni­cal chal­lenges of direct­ing the were­wolf ménage a trois. He’s got a sly sense of humor about the whole thing and Felsher keeps him prompt­ed well, includ­ing delv­ing into some ques­tions about the equal­ly weird Howling III.

Howling2-03Felsher returns to mod­er­ate a sec­ond com­men­tary track fea­tur­ing com­poser Steve Parsons and edi­tor Charles Bornstein. Both are inter­viewed sep­a­rate­ly for a more relaxed, Q&A-style for­mat. Parsons talks about how he applied rock music meth­ods to film scor­ing in an exper­i­men­tal way as well as telling some inter­est­ing sto­ries about shoot­ing the con­cert sequence. Bornstein, who admits strug­gling with the film and its qual­i­ty, tells some neat sto­ries about din­ners with Christopher Lee and how the film’s infa­mous end cred­its came to be. He also talks about his ear­ly career, a fas­ci­nat­ing tale that includes Nicholas Ray, Steven Spielberg and John Carpenter!

Next up are a trio of inter­views. The first is a 14-min­ute chat with Reb Brown, who talks about the odd­i­ties of shoot­ing in Czechoslovakia and offers fond mem­o­ries of both Mora and Lee. He embraces the ridicu­lous­ness of the film in a fun-lov­ing way that is chHowling2-04arm­ing. Next up is 17 min­utes with Sybil Danning. She offers a sur­pris­ing­ly thought­ful chat that cov­ers how she took the role seri­ous­ly and offers up warm mem­o­ries of Lee, who she worked with fre­quent­ly. She also talks about her heat­ed respon­se to that wild end-cred­its sequence.

That said, the most amus­ing of the inter­views might be the piece involv­ing make­up FX men Steve Johnson and Scott Wheeler. Over 15 min­utes, they offer two intrigu­ing­ly dif­fer­ent view­points: Wheeler is very fond of it despite the film’s qual­i­ty because it was an impor­tant ear­ly gig for him while Johnson views it more sar­don­ical­ly as a film-gone-awry. Johnson also tells the segment’s best sto­ry with an anec­dote about apply­ing make­up for the big were­wolf sex scene.

A few film-basedHowling2-05 extras fol­low. An alter­nate begin­ning and an alter­nate open­ing offer begin­ning and clos­ing reels for the film that offer slight vari­a­tions on the edit­ing choic­es that end up in the film, both tak­en from what look to be real workprint cel­lu­loid. A “Behind The Scenes” option offers up 4 min­utes of between-takes goof­ing around from Mora as he uses the oppor­tu­ni­ty to cre­ate intros for dif­fer­ent edits of the film. A the­atri­cal trail­er plays up the film’s new wave edge, try­ing to sell it as mid­night movie mate­ri­al. An ani­mat­ed image gallery clos­es things out, offer­ing an eight min­ute mon­tage of stills and behind the sce­nes pho­tos.

In short, this is an excel­lent pack­age for a camp favorite that few expect­ed to get this lev­el of atten­tion on home video. If you’re part of its fol­low­ing, this offers a nice trans­fer and an edu­ca­tion­al set of extras.

To read Schlockmania’s film review of Howling II, click here.