Synopsis: High school nobody Scott Howard (Michael J Fox) discovers he has the one thing no other guy has in his school; the ability to transform in to a werewolf. Not just any werewolf; a party wolf. A Teenwolf.
In recognition of the new werewolf themed Netflix Original series Hemlock Grove launching this week, we thought we’d step back and watch a classic of the genre: 1985 high school werewolf Michael J Fox movie Teen Wolf.
Question being: did it still cut the hairy mustard? (wow, that sounds like a terrible euphemism. I promise you it’s not. At least I hope it’s not. I ain’t Googleing that shit to find out)
In short; no, it didn’t. In fact Teen Wolf has aged really, really badly. Going back and watching it after all these years was kind of like looking up an old High School sweetheart and finding out she had a skin ravaging meth habit in the intervening period. And while now clean and sober she is plenty nice to talk to, you can’t help but be distracted by her 40% tooth retention and Edward James Olmos face. Now I guess watching a film from 1985 I shouldn’t be entirely surprised it has aged so much. But honestly I am now thinking this probably wasn’t that great on release in 1985 compared to other stuff at the time. I also might have watched it more ironically than I realised on first and last viewing in 2002. I was kind of a hipster at the time, so that would actually make a lot of sense…..
Why so dated you ask (probably)? Well firstly, the sound quality. Maybe it was the transfer when Netflix uploaded it to their servers but it sounded like the whole thing was recorded on a wax cylinder inside a phone booth. It also didn’t help that it had quite possibly the worst original score of any film I have seen from that era. Granted electro was hit and miss at the time but the first 30 minutes was punctuated by a recurring piece of music that sounded like a monkey punching a Casio HT3000. Admittedly it got better in the second half, but not by much. At best the monkey took basic keyboard lessons during the production. I swear I remember thinking that was cool the last time I watched it. Oh, wait……hipster. Makes sense.
Secondly, and this is no fault of the film really, but the effects were really bad. That’s more the fact we are totally spoilt by even the lowest budget horrors these days but Fox’s prosthetics looked shop bought.
Thirdly; who was casting this movie? I know Hollywood takes liberties sometimes with the ages of actors playing school kids, but come one! The dude playing Chubby looked like a middle aged insurance salesman!
That’s not to say it didn’t still entertain though.
There is something timelessly satisfying about watching Michael J Fox, particularly from his pre Spin City 1980’s heyday. Back To The Future, Doc Hollywood, The Hard Way, Casualties of War. And I swear he looks the same now as he did then.
Jerry Levine was somehow less annoying this time than last time as Scott’s douchey best friend Stiles. The van surfing scenes still hold up and I found myself still gawping at how impressive it was to watch a stuntman actually do that.
All in all this was not as fun a trip down memory lane as I was hoping. I would bet money it holds up better though than the Jason Bateman 1989 sequel. And it is 10 times better than the unnecessary pretty person version they turned into a TV series. Urgh, hate that.
Conclusion: If you’re hankering for some Michael J Fox go watch Back to the Future.
Verdict: 5/10 For nostalgia purposes only
Director: Rod Daniel – Responsible for a whole mess of kids movies and random TV show episodes.Did K-9 AND Beethoven’s 2nd….so…..yeah. Dude likes a good dog movie. Didn’t do Marley & Me though.
Writer: Joseph Loeb – So this guy turns out to be a bit of a geek legend. After Teen Wolf he wrote Commando (weird jump), Teen Wolf Too (fair enough) and then went on to write episodes for Smallville, Heroes and the Superman/Batman series of graphic novels. Also a produce for loads of Marvel stuff including the upcoming S.H.I.E.L.D. series. Also written by Matthew Weisman, but who cares after Loeb.
Cast: Michael J Fox and a bunch of 80’s people
- Scott Howard’s (Michael J. Fox) house was located on the same block as 1955 George McFly’s and 1955 Lorraine Baines’s houses from Back to the Future. The Howard house in Teen Wolf is the same house as Marty’s mother’s house (the Baines house) in 1955 BttF.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Greg White officially changed his name to Stylez G. White on December 15, 2008. The inspiration for the name change came from Jerry Levine‘s character, Stiles, in Teen Wolf.
- If the “teen” actors seem too old to be high school students, it’s no wonder. Scott is played by Michael J. Fox: age 23. Stiles is played by Jerry Levine: age 27. Chubby is played by Mark Holton: age 26. Mick is played by Mark Arnold: age 27.