Howling II appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. An erratic presentation, the movie showed its age.
Sharpness varied. The movie usually looked acceptably detailed but rarely much more than that. Not too many scenes looked really ill-defined, but few came across as particularly distinctive; most of Howling was acceptably concise and no more. Jagged edges and shimmering caused no concerns, and I encountered no signs of edge haloes or noise reduction.
Print flaws became a distraction at times. Though never especially heavy, I did notice moderate examples of specks and marks. Again, these didn’t ruin the image, but I thought it could/should have been cleaner.
Colors seemed erratic. They displayed the usual Eighties murkiness much of the time, but they also occasionally looked reasonably vibrant and distinct. For the most part, the hues came across as somewhat messy.
Black levels tended to appear somewhat inky, while shadow detail was a little too dense much of the time. Interiors seemed fairly flat and muddy. This was a mediocre presentation.
When we moved to the film’s DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack, it showed its age but usually sounded decent. Dialogue was acceptable, as only occasional edginess affected the lines. Speech could’ve been more natural, but the lines seemed okay.
Music wasn’t particularly bold, but the score and songs showed reasonable clarity and vivacity. Effects seemed clean and without substantial distortion; though they didn’t have much kick, they reproduced the material well. While nothing here dazzled, the mix held up fine for a 30-year-old mono track.
Like most Shout! Factory releases, this one comes with plenty of extras, and we launch with two separate audio commentaries. The first involves director Philippe Mora. Along with moderator Michael Felsher, Mora discusses how he came onto the project, cast and performances, effects and makeup, shooting behind the Iron Curtain, music and audio, stunts, and related topics.
Mora ensures that we get a fun, informative chat. He presents a lot of entertaining stories about the shoot and delivers plenty of useful behind the scenes info. This ends up as a strong commentary.
For the second commentary, we hear from composer Steve Parsons and editor Charles Bornstein. Felsher conducted independent interviews with these two, so we get them presented here in a totally non-scene-specific manner. First we hear from Parsons and then we get the chat with Bornstein. Both interviews cover similar territory, as we learn about how both men got into movies as well as their work on Howling II and other aspects of their careers.
We get good info from both men, but Bornstein seems more interesting if just because he actively loathes Howling II. Parsons takes the opposite approach, as he falls into the “it’s a cult classic’ camp, so it’s fun to hear the contrast in their views. I’d prefer this as a traditional commentary but we still find plenty of good notes here.
Three featurettes follow. Leading Man goes for 13 minutes, 51 seconds and presents an interview with actor Reb Brown. He chats about aspects of his career as well as his experiences during the shoot of Howling II. Brown doesn’t give us much in terms of fascinating details, but he throws out enough amusing anecdotes to make the reel worth a look.
During the 17-minute, three-second Queen of the Werewolves, actor Sybil Danning chats about topics similar to those addressed by Brown. She gives us general thoughts about her career and relates her impressions of her time on Howling II. Danning’s comments prove to be mostly fun and informative.
Next comes A Monkey Phase. In this 15-minute, 29-second featurette, we hear from special makeup effects artists Steve Johnson and Scott Wheeler. Like the actors, we learn how they got into movies, and they then relate details about the work they did for Howling II. This becomes the most interesting of the featurettes, as we get a mix of facts and amusing stories.
The disc also includes an Alternate Opening (10:34) and an Alternate Ending (9:35). The “Opening” doesn’t seem especially “alternate”, as it contains much of the same footage; it just leaves out a little of Christopher Lee’s opening narration.
As for the “Ending”, it also does little to alter what we see in the final film. Actually, I watched the theatrical conclusion and “Ending” back to back a couple of times, but I’ll be darned if I can figure out how they differ. Any changes that exist are minor.
Some Behind the Scenes Footage lasts three minutes, 52 seconds. This clip gives us raw footage for a werewolf attack scene. It’s substantially more entertaining than the movie itself.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we get a still gallery. Presented as a running montage, this shows 99 stills across eight minutes, 17 seconds. These mix publicity photos, shots from the set and movie images. This ends up as a decent collection.
A forgettable werewolf tale, Howling II lacks much to make it worthwhile. It suffers from a dull story and weak acting as it plods across its 91 minutes. The Blu-ray provides mediocre picture and audio as well as a useful collection of supplements. Howling II does little to make itself enjoyable.