Teen Wolf
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Teen Wolf

Blu-ray

While horror as a genre was founded on the mandate of frightening people a more recently has recently gained considerable popularity. This trend started in the forties with Universal Studios came up with the idea of combining their most popular monster movie character with their most beloved comedy duo, Abbott and Costello. They came up with story ideas that thrust the guys into situations where they could cross paths with Frankenstein and the Wolf-man. While the method of presentation has changed over the intervening decades the fundamental concept remains the same and MGM/UA has  kept up this  tradition of horror comedies alive extending it nicely. This convention has received a new spark of life with the implementation of another popular incentive; the re-release of popular classic films with high definition Blu-ray editions. One of the flicks that nicely satisfy these criteria was found in the release of the 1985 fan favorite, ‘Tween Wolf’. Like fan film buffs I have watched this film in a number of different resolutions from a fairly good theater to standard video tape. As is notable with a lot of Blu-ray releases this was like seeing the film for the very first time. One of the greatest things about these high definition releases is a chance to revisit old favorites noticing details of the video and audio that was hidden for all these years. "Teen Wolf’ is an excellent representative of the mid-eighties comedy that we all needed during the difficult times manifesting economically and socially. This was the golden age of the high school based film providing the most memorable examples of this age specific genre. Even for those of us long out of out teen years at this time these films represented a type of entertainment that afforded an escape from our adult responsibilities and an opportunity to enjoy the freedom felt in high school. ‘Teen Wolf’ endures largely for that reason; it is not intended as a means to convey some important message or take a stand on issues relevant to the youth of the eighties. It is meant to be a brief release of silly fun to enjoy. It succeeded very well in meeting that goal.

There is practically a special subset of eighties cinema that encompasses the movie; Michael J. Fox flicks. His transition from television teen star in ‘Growing Pains’ to A List actor is a remarkable one; he ruled the fan favorite corner of most local Video tape rental stores. He basically set the course for his career by establishing the persona of Michel P. Keaton. This role would be the foundation for the likable, intelligent, driven young men that manifested as Marty McFly in the "Back to the Future trilogy and his role as the titular Scott Howard depicted here. What makes his characters so believable and ultimately beloved by audiences is how the characters reflect the inner strength and resiliency of the individual as seen in his well publicized battle with Parkinson's disease. This film is from that time when he was approaching the pinnacle of his career and is well worth having for that fact alone. It is also a movie that can be enjoyed on the popcorn flick level and with a mild PG rating a horror comedy suitable for the entire family to sit and enjoy together. This has become exceedingly rare for this type o movie since most horror and high school comedies have a tendency to come in with the more explicit ‘R’ rating.

The film begins with Scott on the basketball court preparing to take a free throw. Considering his team, the Beavers, are some seventy points behind the outcome of the throw is rather meaningless. In fact, the Coach Finstock (Jay Tarses) wants to forfeit to avoid the traffic. Scott has two best friends, the wildly extroverted Rupert 'Stiles' Stilinski (Jerry Levine) and the always cute and ever grounded Lisa 'Boof' Marconi (Susan Ursitti). In typical eighties fashion Boof has a major crush on Scott is yearning for the completely out of his league, Pamela Wells (Lorie Griffin). Scott has begun to notices certain changes occurring in his body and odd mood swings he has been experiencing lately. One of the changes is hair growing on his chest but as Scott soon discovers these changes is far more than just normal puberty. He has ‘The Talk’ with his father Howard (James Hampton) the unthinkable truth comes out; Scott, like his father before him is a werewolf. Dad had been hoping the family curse would skip a generation but it is obvious this is not the case here. Hair may grow in new placers but not ten inches long. So Scott has to face the world as a werewolf, decades before lycanthropy was generally considered cool. The one point that is attempted here is the eternal teen dilemma; wanting to fit in with the rest yet somehow exceed above them. Unlike the usual movie were wolf Scott pretty much changes at any time independent of the lunar cycle. Scott uses his new found animal magnetism and lupine athletic prowess to become the most popular boy in school. This is initially a dream come true until he realizes they hang out with the wolf, not him. There is a John Hughes like moment of clarity and revelation nicely turned to embrace the supernatural by writer Jeph Loeb. He would keep to the supernatural teen motif as a contributing writer for ‘Heroes’ and ‘Smallville. The director, Rod Daniel, does an excellent job keeping the story moving never let it grind to a halt. The film was fun back then and remain greatly entertaining today.

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