• Teen Wolf (Collector's Edition)

    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: August 8th, 2017.
    Director: Rod Daniel
    Cast: Michael J. Fox, James Hampton, Jerry Levine, Susan Ursitti
    Year: 1985
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    The Movie:

    One of the more unlikely teen comedies to come out of the eighties, an era packed to the rafters with some of the goofiest and hokiest teen movies you’ve ever seen, 1985’s Teen Wolf hit at just the right time. As Michael J. Fox was at the height of his popularity, out comes this bizarre film seemingly inspired by old horror films like I Was A Teenage Werewolf (and which many saw as an allegory for puberty) cast with a group of actors far too old to be playing high school students.

    The film revolves around Scott Howard (Fox), a short guy who isn’t very good at basketball. Scott has a crush on the popular blonde girl in school, Pamela Wells (Lorie Griffin), but she won’t give him the time of day. When he’s not playing basketball he’s hanging out with his best friend, Stiles (Jerry Levine), and fending off advances from a cute girl named Boof (Lisa Ursitti). Scott’s mediocre life takes an interesting turn one night when, under a full moon, he transforms into a werewolf. His father explains that this is a family curse and that he’ll learn to live with it. Soon enough, Scott is using his newfound ‘Teen Wolf’ powers to buy kegs of beer from grumpy liquor store employees and kick ass on the basketball court.

    As the wolf becomes the coolest and most popular guy at school, air-guitaring to the Beach Boys on top of a moving van and slam dunking like a champ, he has to figure out who he really is and what he really wants out of life.

    By modern standards, Teen Wolf is pretty goofy stuff. Hell, by the admittedly lax standards of 1985 Teen Wolf was pretty goofy stuff, but that doesn’t take away from the movie’s fun factor in the least. What the movie has going for it are a few things, the first of which is Fox’s performance. Far more likeable than Alex P. Keaton but maybe not quite as cool as Marty McFly, Fox’s Scott Howard is an everyman. He’s not the cool kid in school or the all star athlete, he’s a guy who excels at mediocrity, working at his father’s hardware store and blending into the background of his high school’s consciousness. Fox is good in these roles as he’s not such a cinematic dynamo or scenery chewer. His good nature and charisma make it easy for us to accept that he’s just a bit too old for the part. The movie also features Jerry Levine as Stiles, one of the most memorable cinematic ‘buddies’ of the entire decade. Prone to changing novelty t-shirts at the drop of a hat, spouting off bad one liners, planning odd party games and generally just getting into trouble, Stiles was that guy you wished you knew in school. Levine would star in Iron Eagle the next year and pop up here and there throughout the eighties before becoming a successful television director, but it’s his performance as the remarkably obnoxious Stiles that’ll earn him a place in the movie history books.

    Really though, the film is pretty bad on a lot of levels if you think about it too much (so it’s best not too). Again, these negatives don’t take away from the movie’s entertainment factor but really, werewolves are good at basketball? And would a group of teenagers really be so eager and open minded as to champion their lycanthropic classmate? Do girls really swoon over hairy fanged beasts and why is the only black guy in the movie named Lemonade (played by Richard Brooks who would later star in Law And Order)? Who decided the cute girl next door should be named Boof? Why doesn’t Boof object to being named after flatulence? How did Stiles convinces people at the party to get down to their underwear and then tie them up and cover them in crème? When Scott starts to wolf out while making out with Boof in the closet and he claws her back and leaves red marks, why is she ok with this? Is she into kinky stuff? Innocent Boof, a masochist? And the whole van surfing thing. Have you ever taken a dog for a ride in car? If so you’ll know that for whatever reason they don’t really excel at standing up when vehicles are moving. And yet here’s Scott, in werewolf mode, on top of a van winning the Air Guitar Nationals. Never mind the fact that nobody in town seems particularly freaked out by a werewolf hanging around in general.

    Horrible logic gaps abound, and yet watching Fox run around high school as a werewolf is funny, partially because of the absurdity of it all but also because the movie, for all its many and obvious flaws, has a lot of heart. As corny and contrived as that heart may be, it still counts for something. The movie would be successful enough to inspire an amazingly crappy sequel with Jason Bateman and a horrible animated series as well as a live action television series that aired on MTV – but the original is still the best.


    Teen Wolf hits Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1.85.1 widescreen 1080p high definition transfer taken from a new 2k scan that offers a pretty nice upgrade over the previous Blu-ray release that came out via MGM back in 2011. Detail is a bit stronger and there’s more texture to the image while colors look more natural. Black levels also look more accurate here, as does contract in general. The film retains a natural amount of film grain but doesn’t really show much in the way of actual print damage. The disc is also well authored, showing no noticeable compression artifacts, edge enhancement or noise reduction.

    The only audio mix on the disc is an English language DTS-HD 2.0 mix with optional subtitles offered in English only. While obviously the range is a bit limited there aren’t any issues here. A surround sound remix might have been fun but this track gets the job done. The score sounds nice and punchy and the levels are well balanced so you won’t have any trouble following the dialogue.

    The aforementioned MGM Blu-ray disc was, aside from a trailer, basically barebones. Shout! Factory improves on that with one extra – but it’s a BIG extra – in the form of Never. Say. Die. The Story of "Teen Wolf," which is a two hour and twenty three minute long documentary on the history of the film told in ten parts. With Rod Daniel having passed away a few years ago obviously he wasn’t able to be interviewed (though he appears in some archival footage) and unfortunately Michael J. Fox is nowhere to be found (apparently he’s not too fond of the movie) but pretty much everyone else who had anything to do with the picture shows up at one point or another. In addition to loads of cast and crew interviews we also get insight from film critics talking about the film’s influence on pop culture. As the piece plays out we learn about the origins of the picture, its pre-production phase, shooting the film, the effects featured in the movie, post production work, its box office success and lots more (and yes, the “nudity in the bleachers” issue is covered here too). It’s a nicely edited piece that flows well and covers a lot of ground while managing to remain genuinely interesting from start to finish.

    Aside from that we get a still gallery, a theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection. Shout! Factory also packages this release with some nice reversible cover art and a swanky cardboard slipcover.

    The Final Word:

    Teen Wolf isn’t deep, but it’s fun – a gleefully goofy mix or comedy and horror (but mostly comedy) with some elements of teenage melodrama thrown in just to keep the movie grounded, or at least as grounded as this movie can be. It’s very much a product of its time, but that’s a lot of what is great about it. Shout! Factory presents the film in very nice shape, offering fans a nice upgrade over the previous Blu-ray release, and in addition to that they do a great job documenting the movie’s history and popularity with the feature length documentary that serves as the disc’s main supplement.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      That's one hell of a documentary at that length! This one is still fun, though I have to admit that it didn't do too much for me last time I saw it.
    1. Matt H.'s Avatar
      Matt H. -
      This was a childhood favourite. Does the actress playing Boof show up in the documentary? It always bothered me that Scott wanted Pamela so badly when he could've easily boffed Boof.
    1. C.D. Workman's Avatar
      C.D. Workman -
      That review had me laughing harder than the film ever has!