Friday, July 28, 2017

TEEN WOLF (1985) (Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review)

TEEN WOLF (1985)  

Label: Scream Factory 
Region Code: A
Rating: PG
Duration: 91 Minutes 
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Rod Daniel 
Cast: James Hampton, Jay Tarses, Jerry Levine, Mark Holton, Matt Adler, Michael J. Fox, Scott Paulin, Susan Ursitti

Synopsis: He always wanted to be special … but he never expected this! Like all teenagers, Scott Howard (Michael J. Fox, the Back to the Future trilogy) is going through some … changes. But unlike the rest of the students at Beacontown High School, Scott’s changes include long hair that covers his entire body, claw-like fingernails, fangs, a heightened sense of smell, superhuman strength and the extraordinary ability to … play basketball? And that’s just the beginning.

Scott Howard is a an average seventeen-year-old high school student, a middle class kid with a small group of friends, he's not a particularly popular kid or a necessarily skilled as a basketball player... but all that changes when he discovers he's going through changes, not the normal hormonal stuff we all went through at a certain age, nope, he's a werewolf, which is a secret his dad had been keeping from him. It's sort of a family thing, and sometimes it skips a generation, you know, like male-pattern baldness, only quite the opposite, he begins sprouting fangs, pointy ear, excessive hair and sharp claws, being a teen is already hard, and it just got a lot weirder.  

I've always loved Teen Wolf, it came out when I was twelve, which was probably the perfect age to catch it, and I could relate to the underdog story, and I would wonder what would happen if I would suddenly turn into a werewolf. I have little doubt that the small town I'm from probably would have shot me with a silver bullet in a heartbeat, but through the magic of 80s movie making, I was able to live it through the Michael J. Fox, who I was already a fan of on TV Family Ties. Fox always had an every-teen sort of charm, a spunky kid, and his charisma bleeds right off the screen in this one. 

The movie has a fun cast, we have James Hampton (Pump Up the Volume) as his caring and understanding dad, his fame-scheming sidekick friend Styles (Jerry Levine, Swimming with Sharks), the girl who craves his attention but is for the most part stuck in the friend-zone, Boof (Susan Ursitti, Zapped!) and the blond bombshell he craves Pamela (Lori Griffin, Cheerleader Camp), and her aggressive boyfriend, 80s douche Mick (Mark Arnold, Trancers 4), but let's not forget the over-sized fun of Mark Holton (Pee-Wee's Big Adventure) as his teammate Chubby and a fun turn from Jay Tarses as basketball coach Bobby Finstock , a guy who is always eating and extolling awful advice to his basketball players, stuff like, "there are three rules that I live by: never get less than twelve hours sleep; never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city; and never get involved with a woman with a tattoo of a dagger on her body. Now you stick to that, and everything else is cream cheese.", everyone of his scenes makes me laugh. Then there's Vice Principal Rusty Thorne (Jim McKrell, The Howling) as the authority figure with a vendetta against Scott, while everyone else is excited about Scott's new found werewolf-fame he's less enthused, and it's because he has a history with Scott's dad. . 

The movie is pretty plot-thin 80s fluff, it has a cheesy 80s soundtrack and is about as deep as a puddle of 80s nostalgia, but I still love it, thanks to the performance of Michael J. Fox, who lays on some fun physical humor in the titular role. The special effects are decent enough for the time, lots of latex and hair, Fox looks great made-up as the werewolf wearing is Beavers high school uniform playing some acrobatic b-ball. 

Teen Wolf (1985) arrives on a single-disc Collector's Edition Blu-ray from Scream Factory with a brand new 2K transfer from the interpositive. I never did upgrade by old DVD to the bare-bones Blu-ray from MGM a few years back, but this is a nice upgrade from the DVD, obviously. There's a nice layer of film grain that is nicely managed, the fine detail comes through pleasingly and colors are vibrant, and black levels are good, but not great. 

The disc has only one audio option, and English language DTS-HD MA 2.0 mix with optional English subtitles. It's a nice stereo presentation, everything is nicely crisp, the music cues sound great, some of the dialogue levels seem a bit wonky, too loud at times, but this I believe goes back to source material and not an issue with the presentation from Scream Factory. 

Onto the extras we have just one main extra, but it's a whopper, a 143-min making of doc with interviews from writers Jeph Loeb and Matthew Weisman; producers Mark Levinson and Scott Rosenfelt; stars Susan Ursitti-Sheinberg, Jerry Levine, Matt Adler, Jim MacKrell and Troy Evans; basketball double Jeff Glosser; casting director Paul Ventura; production designer Chester Kaczenski; special effects makeup artist Jeff Dawn; editor Lois Freeman-Fox; and Rob Galluzzo from the Shock Waves Horror Podcast. It's an epic extra, unfortunately Michael J. Fox did not contribute, he's not a fan of the movie from what I gather, and there are archival clips of the late director Rod Daniel. It's a fun trip down memory lane and loaded with anecdotes about making the movie, plus they address the infamous scene of the kid exposing himself during one of the crowd scenes. 

The only other extras are a trailer and image gallery, but that two-hour plus doc is nothing to sneeze at. As a fan of the film I wish we could have got the scenes from the TV version, there are some extended and alt scenes out there, you can watch at least one of them on YouTube, and there's a director's commentary available online that is not on this release, it can be downloaded at which was recorded with the director by his sons, which is a good listen. 

Packaging wise the film comes in a standard blue keepcase with a sleeve of reversible artwork, sporting the original artwork and a new portrait style painting, which is mirrored by the Teen Wolf Too Collector's Edition. There's also a limited edition slipcover with the new artwork.  

Special Features:
- New 2017 High-Definition Film Transfer taken from the interpositive
- Never. Say. Die. The Story Of Teen Wolf – A comprehensive documentary about the making and legacy of the film, including brand-new interviews with writers Jeph Loeb and Matthew Weisman; producers Mark Levinson and Scott Rosenfelt; stars Susan Ursitti-Sheinberg, Jerry Levine, Matt Adler, Jim MacKrell and Troy Evans; basketball double Jeff Glosser; casting director Paul Ventura; production designer Chester Kaczenski; special effects make-up artist Jeff Dawn; editor Lois Freeman-Fox and Rob Galluzzo from the Shock Waves Horror Podcast (143 mins) HD 
- Original Theatrical Trailer (2 min) HD 
- Still Gallery (6 min) HD

Teen Wolf (1985) is a fun 80's comedy take on teen lycanthropy, it's a goofy watch for sure, the premise that everyone in his small town is so accepting of his transformation begs against believability, but because of the charm of Michael J. Fox it works for me every time, this one is right in my nostalgic sweet-spot. The doc is great, and while I wish we would have had some input from Fox, it's still a solid release for fans of the film looking to upgrade.