By Matt Brunson
TEEN WOLF (1985)
DIRECTED BY Rod Daniel
STARS Michael J. Fox, James Hampton
Rather than a wolf in sheep’s clothing, Teen Wolf is basically a standard 80s teen flick in werewolf’s clothing.
Although it was filmed before Universal Pictures’ Back to the Future, the small distribution house Atlantic Releasing Corporation elected to wait a few weeks after that blockbuster hit theaters before releasing their decidedly lower-profile film. It was a savvy marketing move, since riding Michael J. Fox’s Marty McFly coattails enabled this minor endeavor to gross a decent $33 million at the U.S. box office.
Fox stars as Scott Howard, an ordinary high school kid who’s shocked when he suddenly turns into a werewolf. As his dad (James Hampton) explains, lycanthropy runs in the family, and Scott had best get a grip on his newfound hirsuteness. But rather than a curse, Scott sees it as a blessing, as his popularity among his peers increases a thousandfold once he lets the wolf out.
Fox is as likable as always, celebrated TV writer Jay Tarses (The Carol Burnett Show, Buffalo Bill) has a couple of good moments as the basketball team’s laid-back coach, and, yes, tubby Chubby is played by the same actor (Mark Holton) who had essayed the role of Pee-wee’s nemesis Francis in that same summer’s Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. Otherwise, get past the on-the-cheap wolf makeup (clearly, we’re not talking Rick Baker or Jack Pierce) and all that’s left is an utterly formulaic teen romp indicative of the period, replete with the frosty blonde who catches our hero’s eye, the spunky brunette who pines for him but is dismissed as just a friend, the jock jerk, and the obnoxious best friend who in this case even goes so far as to wear a T-shirt that reads, “Obnoxious.”
(Teen Wolf will be screened at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 17, at the Neighborhood Theatre, 511 East 36th St. The movie is being shown as part of the Bad Moon Rising series presented by The Light Factory, The Neighborhood Theatre, Actor’s Theatre, and Visart Video. Doors open at 7 p.m. Admission is free. Details here.)