Another round of Team Edward vs Team Jacob starts to wind down, and, while I’m ambivalent about Twilight, on principle, the wolf wins. Mainly because teenage wolves (were- or otherwise) are such a rare breed. They didn’t start with Twilight, of course (well, some of us might not know it, but I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt), which got me to thinking … what’s the deal with screen teen wolves?
Michael Landon as Tony the Teenage Werewolf
Werewolves and pubescence go together well, actually–of all the monsters, the one where a normal person’s body makes a terrifying, hairy transformation (throw in the detail of transforming once a month, and it’s amazing that so few are girls) makes the most sense as a teen angst allegory. So it’s been done–sometimes well, sometimes not so well. In any event, here are five teenage wolf people who aren’t Jacob:
Tony (Michael Landon), “I Was a Teenage Werewolf” (1957) – In this cult creature feature, Tony, a good-looking rebel who plays by his own rules (sigh) is turned into a werewolf by this mad psychiatrist. It’s actually pretty dark, and not such a bad movie, as far as vintage B-movies go. If ’50s horror isn’t up your alley, try watching the MST3K version.
Michael Jackson as Michael, the teenage werewolf
Michael (Michael Jackson), “Thriller” (1983) - You know Michael Jackson’s retro-’50s werewolf is a teen because he wears a high school letter jacket, so he counts. Unlike Michael the zombie, the werewolf doesn’t dance, and unlike most other screen teen wolves, he transforms into a beast that is actually pretty scary. Thanks to the handiwork of horror makeup master Rick Baker, the transformation was a work of CGI-free art.
Tony (Adam Arkin), “Full Moon High” (1981) – If you don’t recall this early-80s teenage werewolf flick, imagine a “Scary Movie” that sticks with a storyline or a Mel Brooks zany satire of the horror genre (and the “modern society” of the time). It’s not particularly deep or scary, but you could do worse….
Scott (Michael J. Fox), “Teen Wolf” (1985) – Michael J. Fox’s werewolf was typically contrived (not terribly different from his more famous Marty McFly), not scary, and not particularly interesting, but it begat a short-lived TV series in the ’80s, an ’87 sequel starring Jason Bateman, and–wait for it–an upcoming MTV series based on it.
Emily Perkins as Brigitte and Katharine Isabelle as Ginger
Ginger (Katharine Isabelle), “Ginger Snaps” (2000) – I don’t care what anyone says: it was Ginger, not Jacob, who breathed new life into the teen-angst wolf genre. The Canadian cult movie (which has been followed by two wildly different sequels) follows misfit sisters Ginger and Brigitte as they struggle through mid-teendom. There are boys, but don’t look for fantasy teen romance, or a wolf transformation that’s anything less than violent and torturous.