Yet another installment of Sybil Danning Palooza 2012, leading up to my (fantabulous) interview with the First Lady of Action herself Monday, May 7th!
This time I’m going to be diving in to what are probably her two most well known films, for better or worse (and so much has been written about them in these sorts of circles I’m not sure what new I can add to the mix, but who cares about that ultimately I suppose?)
Up first we have The Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf from 1985, also known as The Howling II: Boy Does This Suck Ass.
While the original film from 1981 (written by John Sayles and Directed by Joe Dante, of Piranha and Gremlins fame, with GOREgeous FX by maestro Rob Bottin) is a classic of the horror genre (well, comedy/horror genre) the second most decidedly is not a classic of anything, except for maybe lupine menage a trois enthusiasts…
Plot wise it loosely follows the events of the first in that (SPOILERS) after the transformation of (lead character/heroine of that film) news reporter Karen White into a werewolf and her subsequent denouement (on live television) at the end of the original, her brother, his girlfriend and some random occult expert (played by a slumming, totally, visibly embarrassed Christopher Lee) go off to “the dark country” to find the queen of the werewolves (Sybil Danning, known in the film as Stirba- Werewolf Bitch) and kill them all for good… or something like that.
The story, the dialog, the photography, the effects, the music and 90% of the performances are nauseatingly, mind numbingly bad. Like I really cant describe to you how bad… Actually, I can Madonna’s acting level bad.
Basically, the movie is an abortion, lovingly captured on muddy film stock and shoved in your face. It is terrible with a capital T.
Yet, I’ve watched it at least 12 times in my life and probably will do so a couple more times before I die.
Is it so horrific that it becomes watchable, as so many of the other films I review are?
No, not really.
It is truly just downright awful. But it has Christopher Lee debasing himself on film AND Sybil Danning in a two girl, one guy, transforming into werewolves as they fuck, threeway. Huh? Yeah. That’s right.
It’s not so much a movie as it is a rite of passage. It’s one of those things that must be experienced. And once you experience it, you love it. You shouldn’t, but you do.
Also, the end title credits humorously feature the same shot of Sybil removing her top over and over again and that’s always a plus. AND really, I give Christopher Lee a hard time but he was MUCH more uncomfortable in Curse III: Blood Sacrfice (as anyone would be.) Everyone’s gotta get paid sometimes, right? Sybil, as always is wonderful and underused as Stirba, playing the part, what little there is, with much relish. And there are a couple of overused shots of a pretty local clock that looks like a dead child playing a drum that help make the thing semi-possibly-maybe worth watching… kind of.
But, not really.
Anyways, up next is an actual good one, that I love all the way around, Reform School Girls, from 1986.
The film is supposedly a “parody” of the Women in Prison film, but really it’s more of a Women in Prison film with a heightened sense of humor, as most of the “serious” stuff that happens comes across as pretty brutal and intense.
It follows all the rules of the genre, innocent or mostly innocent young girls get thrown into nightmarish, over the top prison (in this case the world’s most prison like Reform School), they are stripped, bullied, humiliated, there is some lesbianism and then they must battle the people who run the place to get out or die tryin’.
However, unlike most other films in this subgenre, who frequently induce unintended giggles you’re supposed to laugh at how over the top everything is this go round, for the most part. That and the truly classic, Shakespearean in magnitude dialog; featuring such chestnuts as “Keep your fingers above the sheets girls, we only wash em once a week.” “Girl #1: Edna and Charlie have an understanding. Girl #2: Yeah, Charlie’s under and Edna’s standing.” and “Wanna play carnival?… Come sit on my face and I’ll guess your weight.”
The direction by veteran genre “auteur” Tom DeSimone and look of the film is crisp and almost cartoonish, in an appealing way. It has a kick ass mid-80’s punk rock soundtrack (featuring a few tracks by the legendary Wendie O’ Williams, who also stars in the film as the world’s most geriatric 16 year old.) And the acting is all around great for this sort of thing, especially the scene stealing performances of Pat Ast (as the bitchy, bull dyke, foul mouthed Chief of Staff Edna) and of course Sybil Danning (as the leather clad, icy, evil, overbearing, bible quoting Warden Sutter.)
As almost always is the case, there isn’t enough Sybil for my tastes, but this is how B-Movies were back in the day… Could only afford but so much awesome at a time.
The Howling II 2 out of 10 randomly exploding midget eyeballs
Reform School Girls 7 out of 10 burning bunny dolls