Before it became a homoerotic horror series on MTV, “Teen Wolf” was the epitome of eighties cheese that mixed a teen coming of age comedy with horror tropes. The idea of being a werewolf is of course a metaphor for puberty, as Michael J. Fox takes a baffling but oddly fun turn in his career after the success of “Back to the Future.” The 1985 “Teen Wolf” hasn’t aged very well, but it’s still a fun novelty of the decade where almost nothing was off limits it meant possibly drawing a laugh. Surely, the idea of a werewolf becoming a star basketball player is absurd, but not offensive as a comedy based around a corpse, or a college student wearing black face. But I digress.
Michael J. Fox plays high school nerd and basketball player Scott Howard who learns from his father Harold that he is a werewolf. After realizing he’s growing fangs, and fur, and the ability to coerce people with animalistic rage, he learns that he comes from a long line of werewolves. Even his mother was a werewolf who died under unusual circumstances. After the word spreads in his high school that he’s a werewolf, Scott is shocked when his classmates accept him, and he becomes an instant celebrity. What’s more is Scott has a new ability to excel on the basketball court, which begins alienating his friends and teammates. A lot of “Teen Wolf” revolves around how many werewolf and dog puns that the writers can fit in to the script.
There are a lot of scenes of Fox as the werewolf howling, and growling, and even biting in to a can of beer with his fangs. Co-star James Hampton even gets in on the fun with his own white haired werewolf who looks more like a yeti. “Teen Wolf” is painfully silly, but still pretty entertaining to sit through, with Fox pulling off a charming performance, and working well off of Susan Ursitti, and Jerry Levine. Rod Daniel’s direction is bright and injects the intended comic tone that the movie is proud to embrace until the very end. It’s a shame that the sequel basically side stepped a lot of the premise, as the movie seemed to be setting up an interesting mythology. Not only does Scott’s rival in the school seem to have been a werewolf hunter, but the whereabouts of his mom are ambiguous.
There’s also a neat hint at other werewolves here and there. “Teen Wolf” is a solid diversion that’s mostly a classic for its kitschy eighties novel concept. I would have liked to see Fox continue this movie series and perhaps see the writers build up this back story and mythology.
The new edition from Scream Factory comes with an HD still gallery of behind the scenes photos and artwork for the iconic poster. There’s the original trailer for the film, and finally an almost two and a half hour documentary entitled “Never. Say. Die. The Story of Teen Wolf.” This exhaustive and detailed ten part documentary features new interviews with most of the cast and crew, as well as interesting insight in to the film’s production. Everything about “Teen Wolf” is covered in this great feature including casting, make up effects, music, the tone of the film, and the script. And yes, they even discuss the infamous spectator in the background with his pants unzipped and junk showing at the end of the film. This documentary alone is the reason to buy this new edition.