Werewolves Of Manitoba

Some great movies just fall through the cracks— lack of star-power, bad distribution, or something as simple as a tough-to-synopsize-in-one-sentence concept can all lead to the strongest movies to fall under the radar. But if a movie is good enough and strikes the right nerves with the right audience, it can often blossom into eventual success. Such is the case with Ginger Snaps, a 2000 werewolf story that successfully juggles its horror element with sharp, believable teen-angst overtones. The film never found a proper U.S. distributor and was dumped onto a no-frills, full-frame DVD by Lionsgate, though it was a success in its home country of Canada (resulting in a sequel, Ginger Snaps II: Unleashed, and a direct-to-video prequel, Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning). The original film’s reputation grew over the years, with director John Fawcett going on to create the successful BBC sci-fi series “Orphan Black.” Finally, nearly 15 years after its lackluster initial release, Ginger Snaps has been given a proper U.S. Blu-Ray/DVD bow by Scream Factory.


Written by Karen Walton (also currently working with Fawcett on “Orphan Black”), Ginger Snaps serves a rather upfront metaphor about the life-changes taking place in teen girls, with Ginger (Katharine Isabelle of  the recent cult hit American Mary) attacked by a werewolf-like creature around the time of her first period. Both Ginger and her moody sister Brigitte (Emily Perkins) find themselves outcasts at school; both are obsessed with death and each has vowed to take their life if the other dies before them. After her mauling, Ginger goes through a grueling transformation, first emotionally as her personality becomes more outgoing and seductive, then one significantly more physical. While the special effects are dicey by story’s end (Ginger’s ultimate form looks particularly stiff and plastic), the focus on the relationship between the two sisters — and Ginger’s desperation as she slowly turns into something brutal and feral — gives the piece real emotional resonance and the angle involving Ginger’s adolescent changes feels vital and relevant instead of coming off as a marketing gimmick.


Scream Factory delivers Ginger Snaps a strong 1080p transfer which, while not hiding the film’s low-budget origins (the increased resolution only plays up the artificiality of some of the practical makeup effects), feels accurate to the material and is miles ahead of previous home-video versions of the film. The release is packed with extras, the centerpiece being “Ginger Snaps: Blood, Teeth, and Fur,” an informative and detailed hour-plus documentary on the making of the film. While Perkins turns up to talk about her role in this and the other two films, lead Katharine Isabelle apparently declined to participate in this release, which is a shame. Fawcett and Walton deliver able individual commentary tracks — Fawcett focuses on the rigors of low-budget filmmaking, with Walton dealing more with the subtextual elements of the film — while “Growing Pains,” a featurette where female horror writers and bloggers analyze the film and its role in the canon of feminist horror culture, takes a welcome personal approach to the material.  A variety of deleted scenes, auditions and rehearsal footage and trailers fill out this packed release.


It’s too bad that Neil Marshall’s Dog Soldiers, which came out shortly afterward, has been pushed back on Scream Factory’s schedule— these two would make a terrific millennial-werewolf double bill. But for horror fans looking for something both thoughtful and visceral, this feature-packed release of Ginger Snaps should satisfy.

You can purchase Ginger Snaps directly from Shout Factory or from Amazon.

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