MTV greenlit a television series adaptation in 2009 that was developed by Jeff Davis. While also centered on a high school student who becomes a werewolf, the story was reimagined as a supernatural teen drama with elements of action and horror. Tyler Posey portrayed the title character, whose name was changed to Scott McCall for the series. It aired for six seasons from 2011 to 2017. A film continuation, Teen Wolf: The Movie, was released on January 26, 2023.
Parents need to know that Teen Wolf is a popular '80s teen comedy that seems to endorse such boys-gone-wild stuff as underage drinking/drugging, reckless vehicle operation, and youthful sex, though such activities are mostly kept to the margins. Girls are briefly shown in bras and panties. There are references to homosexuality, including the pejorative "fag" tossed casually around, even by the nice-guy hero. Viewers hoping for more intensity are barking up the wrong werewolf movie; no real horror here. The sequel, Teen Wolf Too (sometimes bundled on the same DVD) is much the same but doesn't have the virtue of Michael J. Fox in the lead -- Jason Bateman plays a cousin instead.
Families can talk about how filmmakers have used the idea of a youth becoming a werewolf, like in Teen Wolf, or monster as a metaphor for puberty, raging hormones, and tumultuous maturation, classic depictions being I Was a Teenage Werewolf, Ginger Snaps, and The Company of Wolves. Ask teens if they relate to the idea.
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.
Marisa Mercurio is a Michigan-based writer and scholar. As a PhD candidate, she studies intersections of gender, sexuality, and empire in nineteenth century British literature; female detective fiction; horror and the Gothic. Marisa is also the co-creator and co-host of the However Improbable podcast, a Sherlock Holmes book club that narrates and discusses the great detective. Her writing has recently appeared in Ghouls Magazine, World Literature Today, and Ginger Nuts of Horror. You can find her on Twitter @marmercurio and on WordPress.
Teen Wolf was a huge hit for MTV when it arrived on the small screen in 2011, but how did the show differ from its 1985 horror-comedy inspiration of the same name? Throughout its six-season run, MTV's television reboot Teen Wolf was beloved by fans of teen drama, lycanthropic horror, and very obvious subtext alike. The series was a drama-mystery-fantasy hybrid that struck a successful balance between campy and compelling. The show was a success with critics and fans alike as it never took itself too seriously, using the potent metaphor of lycanthropy to explore everything from male bonding to puberty to Native American mythology to coming out.
There's a clear theme with all these differences between Teen Wolf the movie and Teen Wolf the TV series, and it's not hard to pick up on. The TV show is a far darker and edgier affair than the campy, self-consciously silly movie and its even more lighthearted sequel. This is due in large part to the intention to create a show closer in tone to The Lost Boys and Stand By Me than a garish eighties teen comedy. Not unlike the earlier teen bit Buffy The Vampire Slayer, a lot of the appeal of TV's Teen Wolf lies in its darker tone. The more horror-forward approach allowed the series to explore Native American monster myths, resulting ina story more chilling and thrilling than the films it shares a title with. The highest stakes featured in the Teen Wolf movie are winning over a love interest and excelling at a big basketball game, whereas the stakes of Teen Wolf's TV adaptation are often life and death (or at least life and limb).
The series succeeded in its aspiration to capture the campy, but still scary, tone of Joel Schumacher's eighties teen vampire classic, even though The Lost Boys itself was almost a far lighter and sillier affair (which ironically would have been similar to 1985's Teen Wolf). Like The Lost Boys, the Teen Wolf TV show's depiction of teenage friendship often rings true, too. However, it's worth noting that both versions of Teen Wolf did ironically end up with surprisingly similar endings. Sure. the TV show's version of Scott may not have ended up winning a pivotal basketball game in full werewolf mode, but both versions of Teen Wolf open with a teenage protagonist who is unlucky in love and unable to find his place in the world, and both end with him transformed not only physically but also more mature, madly in love, and ready to take on adulthood after a string of trials tested his mettle. That said, most of us would probably rather a free throw contest over clawing your own eyes out to take down the Anuk-Ite.
Michael J. Fox is the stage name of Michael Andrew Fox, who was born in Edmonton, Alberta in 1961. His parents are Phyllis Fox (née Piper), a payroll clerk, and William Fox. They moved their 10-year-old son, his three sisters, Kelli Fox, Karen, and Jacki, and his brother Steven, to Vancouver, British Columbia, after his father, a sergeant in the Canadian Army Signal Corps, retired. During these years Michael developed his desire to act. Fox uses 'J.' as the second initial, in homage to actor Michael J. Pollard. He did not choose Michael A. Fox, as this could possibly be associated with arrogance (a fox). His first role was at the age of twelve in the popular drama series The Beachcombers (1973) about the adventures of a professional lumber salvager and his friends in British Columbia. At 15 he successfully auditioned for the role of a 10-year-old in a series called Leo and Me (1978). At 18 he moved to Los Angeles and he was surviving on boxes of macaroni and cheese. until he was able to get his green card. His first role in a film was in Letters From Frank (Edward Parone, 1979) starring Art Carney. Things started breaking for Fox in 1980, when he won a regular role on the weekly series Palmerstown, U.S.A. (1980-1981) and a supporting part in the theatrical film Midnight Madness (Michael Nankin, David Wechter, 1980). At 5'4" (163 cm), the baby-faced Fox was able to play adolescents and teenagers well into his twenties; during the early stages of his career, however, his height lost him as many roles as he won. In 1982, Fox rose to fame in the television long-running sitcom Family Ties (1982-1989), in which he played Alex P. Keaton, the conservative, college-educated son of a hippie-era couple. He was only chosen after Matthew Broderick, who was originally considered for the role, refused to have a long-term television obligation. Before the series ran its course, Fox had won three Emmys, one of them for an unforgettable "one-man show" in which his character soliloquized over the suicide of a close friend. In 1982, he made a splash in the cinemas with Class of 1984 (Mark L. Lester, 1982), a mix between Dangerous Minds and A Clockwork Orange, starring Perry King. He also starred in the feature films High School U.S.A. (Rod Amateau, 1983), Teen Wolf (Rod Daniel, 1985) and Poison Ivy (Larry Elikann, 1985). His real breakthrough came with his role as the time-travelling teen Marty McFly in the Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis, 1985), in which he starred with Christopher Lloyd. The role of Marty McFly was initially intended for Eric Stoltz because Fox was shooting Family Ties. But during the shoot, filmmakers found Stolz unsuitable for the role and asked Fox for the role. Back to the Future (1985) was an enormous hit which spawned two sequels, Back to the Future Part II (Robert Zemeckis, 1989) and Back to the Future Part III (Robert Zemeckis, 1990). Hal Erickson at AllMovie: "Not all of Fox's subsequent movie projects were so successful -- although several of them, notably The Secret of My Success (Herbert Ross, 1987) and Casualties of War (Brian De Palma, 1989), were commendable efforts that expanded Fox's range. In later years, the actor seemed to be having difficulty finding the vehicle that would put him back on top, although he continued to keep busy."
The first-ever Disney Worlds comic creatively explores the distinct similarities between the worlds of "Teen Wolf" (the original 1985 film) and "Turning Red," with its two lead protagonists (Scott Howard and Meilin "Mei" Lee) discovering each other's family curses. Scott transforms into a werewolf and Mei transforms into a giant red panda. Of course, the two teens discover that they have more in common than they imagine, which only makes it more difficult for Mei to profess her crush to Scott himself.
Certainly, Teen Wolf plays off the basic teenage bildungsroman formula. You have competing love interests, clear and simplistic antagonizing forces, and a crisis of identity on the account of the protagonist.
Rialto Midnight Screening Report!"Give me a keg of beer..."I was entirely unaware of any burgeoning cult audience for Teen Wolf (1985), besides myself and my friends, until South Pasadena's historic and elegantly-trashed Rialto theater floated it as their Saturday midnight movie last weekend. After that sparsely-attended screening - mostly quiet but for a suspiciously rowdy and crowded 9th row - didn't do much to prove me wrong. Those held in thrall by the Rod Daniel-directed mind-boggler see it as more than a tepid, confused, rote and inoffensive kiddie horror comedy... it is the tepid, confused, rote horror comedy. Any minor generational obsession with Teen Wolf is probably the product of mushrooming '80s nostalgia, bolstered by comfy familiarity from endless cable TV airings and the patience of divergent irony-seekers. Constant catcalls and sarcastic applause (and possibly some non-sarcastic applause) for iconic moments at the Rialto show (and this writer has immunity from none of this behavior) more or less confirm Teen Wolf fans as gobbling up harmless but empty comfort food, even while gagging on it a little.For the uninitiated, Teen Wolf reconfigures I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957) as a teen high school sports comedy. Painfully average Beacontown, NE teen Scott Howard (Michael J Fox, filmed pre-Back to the Future) discovers he is the latest in a family lineage of werewolves. Able to transform at will and possessed of none of Larry Talbot's murderous instinct, Scott channels his wolf powers into phenomenal basketball skills, leads his team to the state finals, wins the lead in the play, lays the hottest girl in school, and becomes big man on campus. But at what cost?!"... and these!"The midnight movie has always been as much a forum for forwarding the cause of Bad Movie Appreciation as for subversive avant-garde art (if not a key locale where where they met, mingled and had babies well before "Notes on 'Camp'"). It is one of the natural tentacles of the midnight movie, coiling back further than the earliest screenings of Reefer Madness, to late-night spook shows attended by packs of howling teenagers. More and more, at least in the LA area, '80s pop movies are being programmed as midnight shows; all bases are covered, from the cream of the genre crop (Gremlins, Fast Times at Ridgemont High), to the camp non-classics (Teen Witch), to those where nostalgia-trippers-only need apply (Flight of the Navigator). I'm always a little troubled by the lumping together of the genuinely witty, the successful broad comedy and refuse that I'm happy to laugh at-but-not-with (it's how Danger: Diabolik ends up on "Mystery Science Theater 3000"), but the ideology of midnight movies has always been tangled; "troubling" is at the core of the appeal.There's a lot about Teen Wolf that fulfills the needs of the '80s junk collector, as it abounds with high-waisted elastic cuff jeans, rolled-up sleeves, breakdancing, lots of plastic sunglasses, and eardrum-numbing soundtrack approximations of Randy Newman, "Stayin Alive" and Carly Simon. These are natural, if endearingly silly, byproducts of aiming a film at a contemporary youth market, and while Teen Wolf's surface decorations are particularly choice, I'd imagine there's only so many times you can laugh at how tight someone's pants are. To be sure, the pacing is stultifying, the cinematography ugly, the special effects makeup poor for its era, the attempts at South Pasadena standing in for Nebraska transparent and ridiculous. Having spent, well, frankly, a lot of time with the film, I believe the most astounding elements of Teen Wolf lie in profound flaws in its storytelling from basic premise to character motivation to thematic concerns.Though the inspiration was surely to create a comic twist on I Was a Teenage Werewolf, that film already fully explored the metaphor of lycanthropy-as-adolescence, addressing the physical transformation, sexual awakening, and potential for adult violence. Teen Wolf works this idea for a few scenes: a near date-rape of Scott's gal pal Boof (Susan Ursetti) in which Scott sprouts claws during a makeout party game, and a great setpiece for the first full wolf transformation wherein the sweaty kid locks himself in the john as his father bangs on the door. "Uh no, Dad, I'm ... doing... something in here!" Fox warbles, and mutters "I'll say!" to himself. But the script drops this idea to fill the requirements of the basketball plot, where werewolfism simply unleashes hidden reservoirs of athletic talent. Scott's father, Harold (James Hampton of numerous TV guest roles) first suggests the werewolf is a manifestation of untapped personal potential ("with greater power comes a greater responsibility", he advises), only to later recant and indicate it corresponds with dark emotions, fear, rage and loss of control. It's all very confused, even down to what causes Scott to transform (full moons, anger, horniness and absolutely nothing, at various times) and what being a werewolf means in a literal sense. He is certainly not imbued with wolfish hunting instincts or a danger to others, so it's hard to buy the conclusion that the werewolf must be suppressed.I can go on and on - why would the basketball team suddenly be good at the climax of the film when they couldn't even score before? Why is the revelation that rival b-baller Mick (Mark Arnold), murdered Scott's mother, and indeed "blew her head off with a shotgun", glossed over as normal small town villain backstory? Basically Teen Wolf tries so hard to follow so many templates that it gets its wires crossed in ways that must be seen to be believed, and seen repeatedly to be untangled in full. The whole enterprise is gloriously screwed-up in a rare way that is usually ignored in favor of fans laughing at Fox's ZZ Top-esque wolf makeup.Jay Tarses as Coach Bobby Finstock, unrepentant slobAfter enough time spent with Teen Wolf, there are some clever intentional touches to appreciate. The film opens on a glowing orb, and Scott's sweat-drenched, gasping face slides into the shot; a shock cut reveals the scene as a basketball game joined in progress, the stand-in full moon merely an out-of-focus overhead light in the gymnasium. There's a laugh-out-loud misdirect when Scott steps out his front door, and freezes when a dog on the lawn seems to say "hello!", before he realizes Boof is sitting on the porch, trying to get his attention. In two scenes, rolling objects are intercepted by disapproving authority figures: first a roll of packing tape and later an empty can. None of this modest flare makes up for the myriad of sins, but it inclines a viewer to more generosity.As a comedy Teen Wolf is pretty anemic, except for two fun performances. Scott Paulin plays drama teacher Mr. Lolley with comical spurt and stutter line readings that rescue the character from dull stereotype. Jay Tarses is absolutely inspired as the disinterested basketball coach Bobby Finstock, armed with surely improvisation-embellished dialogue. Whether chewing gum was he shaves and eats fried chicken at his desk, or advising the boys that win or lose, it's how you play, "and even that doesn't matter that much", Tarses' role is the only entirely successful element of Teen Wolf.NEXT on Exploding Kinetoscope: More Teen Wolf! A Celebration of Stiles 041b061a72