Release Date(s)1985 (August 8, 2017)
Studio(s)Atlantic Releasing/Orion Pictures/MGM/20th Century Fox (Shout!/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: B+
Although not technically cult in the true definition of the term (it was number two at the box office directly behind Back to the Future), Teen Wolf is certainly a film that was both beloved and bullied throughout its aftermarket life, often described by some as a “so bad it’s good” movie. While it contains a lot of 1980s movie tropes, hairstyles, and music, Teen Wolf is actually just as entertaining as many of its contemporaries, including films from John Hughes (who was purportedly a fan of the film as well).
Growing up during the 1980s, Teen Wolf was always in regular rotation on TV, from either rentals or cable airings. As a consequence, I saw it a number of times. Perhaps its nostalgia on my part (or the fact that Michael J. Fox was one my heroes in those days), but the score, the characters, and the performances kept me coming back to it over the years. Stiles and Boof were two of the best friends you could have, Scott’s hometown seemed like an ideal place to live, his father Harold was a warm and engaging parent, and Scott’s high school seemed like a cool place to be. Also, who wouldn’t want a little of the attention that the wolf gets from all of his classmates?
What also makes Teen Wolf great is its sincerity. He may not think so, but Michael J. Fox gives a heart-felt comedic performance. Because of this, many of us can relate to how Scott feels, before and after his transformation. His character is the center of attention, obviously, but in a film about friendship and learning to live with things about yourself that you can’t change and rising above them, he really delivers the goods, as does everybody around him. In a funny kind of way, Teen Wolf manages to continue being relevant, no matter what timeframe you see it in. For all of its detractors over the years (including Michael J. Fox), it has endured as a classic.
Scream Factory’s new Collector’s Edition Blu-ray of Teen Wolf features a new 4K transfer sourced from the film’s interpositive element. The results are quite strong, and I would go so far as to say that this is the best that the film has ever looked outside of a movie theater. It’s quite filmic with well-attenuated grain levels and a solid encode, allowing for excellent texturing and fine detail to shine through. Colors really pop and skin tones look quite natural, while black levels are deep with potent shadow detail. It’s also a clean and stable presentation, aside from some minor speckling. It’s also appropriately bright with natural contrast levels. For the audio, an English 2.0 DTS-HD track is utilized, although it’s obviously from a mono source as everything is quite centered. Dialogue is clean and clear while both sound effects and score have some decent heft to them. It’s never been a film with any major sound design outside of a few stylistic touches, including a few choice sound effects for the wolf transformations, as well as the synth-driven score, but overall, the track itself is quite satisfying. Optional English SDH subtitles are also included.
The extras are a bit light, but what you do get is a massive retrospective making-of documentary that runs about 2 1/2 hours. Entitled Never. Say. Die.: The Story of Teen Wolf, it comes in 10 parts – It’s About a Werewolf That Plays Basketball: The Writing, No Wolf, No Part: The Team, A Can of Cocoa, A Can of Mauve: The Production Design, King of the Urban Surfing, It Landed on My Face!: The Make-Up, You Are an Animal: The Double, Everything Else is Cream Cheese: What Could Have Been, Going Through Changes: The Editing, Still Want to Dance with the Wolf?: The Music, and A Lifetime of Fearing Full Moons and Dodging Silver Bullets: The Legacy. The option of watching each part separately or all at once is also available. In addition, there’s also the original theatrical trailer and an animated still gallery. Unfortunately, Michael J. Fox himself didn’t take part in the documentary, but nearly everyone associated with the film did, including some vintage Q&A footage of the director who recently passed away. Also not included are the film’s deleted scenes, which were used for some of its TV airings.
In my humble opinion, Teen Wolf needs to stop being poked like it’s simply a gag movie and acknowledged as a solid and well-made film. It’s not the best comedy of the 1980s by any stretch of the imagination, but it has a lot of ideas, fun scenes, and plenty of heart. Scream Factory’s treatment of it, including a top-notch transfer with a fantastic documentary, definitely belongs on your shelf.
- Tim Salmons