If someone at your school turned into a werewolf halfway through a basketball game, do you reckon everyone would have been okay with it as long as they played the sport better? When rewatching Teen Wolf, I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if Michael J. Fox’s hoop dreams hadn’t improved by getting hairy. The film kind of gives the impression it might have been pitchforks and silver bullets time.
But that’s the thing with Teen Wolf. It’s a stunningly silly movie, where nobody acts in ways real human beings do, but which gets by and is deemed worth giving a HD release to 28-years-on, due to its charm, sense of humour and warm-heartedness.
Fox is Scotty Howard, a seemingly normal teen whose main claim to fame is being on one of the worst high school basketball teams imaginable. Then he discovers that maybe he is a bit special after all, as one night at a party he begins to change into a werewolf. Not long after this, his secret becomes public at a basketball match. As mentioned though, rather than screaming and running for the hills, Scott’s fellow students take his wolfiness in their stride and soon the entire town has gone wolf crazy.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the adulation goes to Scott’s head, causing him to realise he needs to be true to the young man under the fur. Oh, and this being a teen movie from the 80s, Scott’s also busy ignoring the nice, clean cut girl in front of him, while obsessing over the prettier, unobtainable and rather slutty one who wants nothing to do with (until he shows off his wolf side, at least). No prizes for guessing which one he ends up with.
On one level it is very silly, but it’s also a lot of fun. Teen Wolf is helped enormously by a wonderfully charming performance from Michael J. Fox, who may be the shortest, scrawniest basketball player ever, but manages to sell the whole idea of a boy becoming a wolf without it coming across as stupid. It’s fun, easy to watch and to be honest, rather inconsequential, but Teen Wolf is undoubtedly entertaining.
For a gay audience, there is a cringe-inducing moment where Scotty’s friends Stiles says he couldn’t handle if Scott’s a ‘fag’ (luckily he’s a werewolf, which is apparently a lot better), but Michael J. Fox’s sweet and somewhat timid reaction manages to defuse that (interestingly actor Jerry Levine, who plays Stiles, went on to play gay in a recurring role in Will & Grace). Other than that, it’s a movie ‘fags’ are likely to respond to, just because of the parallel between Scotty’s realisation of being a teen werewolf and coming to terms with your sexuality. It’s not presented as a straight metaphor for that in the film, but it’s certainly there lingering in the background.
Anyone who’s seen any of the new MTV-backed Teen Wolf series will wonder why on earth it’s they billed it as a remake of the 1980s movie, as the two have absolutely nothing to do with one another, barring a lycanthropic central character. However they’ve included a trailer for the new show on this Blu-ray, in case you’re interested.
The HD transfer is a step up from the DVD but it isn’t particularly amazing. There’s a fair amount of grain at times and the clarity is rather soft compared to many other movies (even taking into account the age of the film) and the colour palette is a tad muted. It’s not that it looks bad by any means, just that HD isn’t a revelation in this case.
Overall Verdict: A film that may be rather silly, but has managed to be remembered nearly 30 years due to its charm.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac