Let’s see, we’ve done teen zombies with Thriller, teen vampires with Once Bitten…what are we missing? Oh yes:
I’m… a werewolf.
So you are probably wondering why I didn’t review this film two years ago when my Horrorfest III was obsessed with werewolves. I wanted to, but didn’t have enough time.
So instead I am doing it now as it seems fitting with all my other teen films I have done so far. So this film was Michael J. Fox’s first non-TV film. The only reason he was able to make it, was because filming was delayed by his TV mom, Meredith Baxter’s pregnancy. However, this film came out after Back to the Future even though he made it first. And even though people liked this film, Back to the Future became the monster hit of the year.
But while people loved this film, this was actually Michael J. Fox’s least favorite film. He disliked it so much he declined being in the sequel Teen Wolf Too. Instead going on to do The Secret of My Success, Bright Lights Big City, and of course Back to the Future: Part II.
I have to agree with Michael J. Fox, while I don’t hate it, it isn’t my favorite of his work. I mean we all know what that is…
Okay, enough with The Back to the Future references, let’s move on to Teen Wolf!
So this film takes the idea from I Was a Teenage Werewolf but steers away from the darker tones and tries to focus on what teen life would be like with instead of puberty, you turn into a werewolf.
This film also came out during a cycle of werewolf films, such as: An American Werewolf in London, The Howling, etc.
So the film starts off with Scott Howard’s (Michael J. Fox) basketball game. Scott is not the best player and not popular, more on the geeky side.
I know, an uncool Michael J. Fox?
It seems impossible to me. But this is acting, sometimes we pretend to be the opposite of what we are.
So moving on. So he’s horrible at basketball, the most popular girl in school won’t say two words to him, he is bullied, etc. And to top it all off his body has been going through some…changes.
First he growls during the basketball game
Then he finds a super long hair on his chest, hair on his hands, pointy ears, wolf teeth, and during a two minutes in heaven at a party he grows crazy long nails and scratches up his best friend, who is secretly in love with him and he is totally oblivious to), Boof.
Yes, that is her name. She was named after the writer’s friend from high school. Anyways, he soon learns from his dad what is causing this.
I liked the transformation scene it was pretty creepy looking, good job makeup guys. I thought the make up was cool too, sort of similar to I Was a Teenage Werewolf but longer hair.
Scott decides to let his best friend know about him being a werewolf, and his friend Stiles (Jerry Levine [you might recognize him as Jamie in Casual Sex] who doesn’t freak out but decides that they could profit from this if done right. Yes, in this werewolf’s don’t act bestial and attack, the full moon doesn’t come into play, and no one screams in terror or tries to kill him; instead the Horwards can control it, most of the time. And unlike most horror or werewolf films; Michael J. Fox spends most of the film in werewolf makeup.
Most werewolf films is either split fifty-fifty, or under fifty. And of you think of it, most werewolf films focus on how the person’s life is affected, trying to stop it, the carnage that comes of it; not how you could profit from it or being a werewolf almost 24 hours a day. Yes, this is a very different concept.
So everything comes to a head when during one of the games he fully voges into a werewolf.
We then see how being the wolf is bettering his life. He is a better basketball player
I know I thought it was weird too, but then again they did do the same thing in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992). After the guys were bit by vampires, they suddenly became extremely good at basketball. I guess being a supernatural being makes you good at sports.
He becomes super popular, Stiles selling all kinds of merchandise and products. It makes him smarter as he starts getting A’s in his classes, everyone loves him and wants his autograph, and the the most popular girl in school starts wanting to be with him.
In fact, one of the weirdest nonsensical scenes involves the most popular girl in school, Pamela. Scott has been asked to be in the school play, a play that was previously just Pamela and the director, and she comes on to Scott. At first the scene starts off with her in her bra and panties, and then she takes her bra off. We cut away to hear Scott howling, so it is safe to assume they had sex. After this they go on a date and her boyfriend Mick is there and angry at Scott for being with his woman. When Scott talks to Pamela about it, she says:
Pamela: Well, you can’t really blame him. He is my boyfriend.
Well then why were you messing with Scott?
When Scott asks her the same thing, she says that it was then and just something that happens.
And she legit does not get why Scott is confused. If you ask me, she and the school drama teacher were probably doing some stuff backstage. I mean otherwise why was the school production a production of one and why did he cast such a horrible actress as the lead?
So the film instead of being a werewolf film, actually becomes a teen film about a person getting too much fame and losing who they are; turning on their friends and the people who really care about him. He hardly spends time with Boof and keeps having “cooler” things to do then help out with his father’s hardware store.
Scott Howard: I was with Stiles this afternoon.
Harold Howard: I know.
Scott Howard: You saw?
Harold Howard: Yeah, I saw, unless that was another werewolf doing a handstand on top of Stiles’ wolfmobile and making a fool of himself.
I think that is one of the things that made me dislike the film. We had a werewolf but not a real one; instead a drama about teenagers that could have been done without the transformation scenes.
Although I did think the van surfing scene was cool.
So everything comes to a head when they go to the school dance. First Scott starts off as the wolf, but goes back to being plain old Scott; switching back to the wolf when instigated into a fight. The rage and anger he has at the other student scares him and makes him wonder at his ability. Can he hold it together, or will he become like the other wolfmen?
He also is struggling with who he should be, another teen element and not real horror one. Should he be what everyone wants? The wolf? Or should he be true to his heart and be himself?
It is time for the final game, and Scott decides to be himself instead of the wolf. In Karate Kid fashion (but not as good) we have a montage of the basketball game with Scott scoring the final basket and finally coming to terms with who he is.
So there is Teen Wolf. It isn’t horrible, but just regurgitates a lot of teen films clichés and tosses in werewolves. It also had a lot of montages and drags in a quite a few places. It also is weird placing it in a genre; it’s too serious to be a comedy, but too serious to be a drama, and it doesn’t really contain the typology of a horror film. Its a bit mish-mash and will be either be a hit for you or just meh.
But whether you love or hate the film, there is one thing we can all agree on: Michael J. Fox is the BEST!
To start Horrorfest V from the beginning, go to Who You Gonna Call?: Ghostbusters (1984)
For the previous post, go to We’ve Seen Dracula, the Wolf Man, and Frankenstein’s Monster: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
For more werewolf films, go to Beast or Man: The Wolfman (2010)
For more Michael J. Fox, go to Portrait of a Fangirl
For more ’80s films, go to I Don’t Want to Be a Vampire. I’m a Day Person: Once Bitten (1985)
For more teen films, go to I’m the Chosen One. And I Choose to be Shopping: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)