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Like Carrie before it, Ginger Snaps uses horror-movie conventions as an inspired metaphor for puberty. When beautiful but reclusive goth teenager Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) is attacked by a monstrous wolf on the eve of her first period, her
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The Fitzgeralds are the social outcasts of their school but their lack of friends doesn't weigh them down because of their very close (and believable) sisterhood. After a late night prank takes an unexpected horrific turn Ginger (Isabelle) is cursed with lycanthropy. As time goes by Ginger's attitude and appearance change drastically. While Ginger shrugs it off as puberty Brigitte (Perkins) believes it to be something else. Terror slowly unfolds as Ginger becomes more erratic with Brigitte desperately trying to put everything back to normal. All the while their hilariously inept parents are oblivious to what is happening to their daughters even as bodies begin to pile up toward the end. As bad as that is it only gets worse with full moon which is only days away.
The movie held my attention to the end and the main cast was great. The effects are pretty impressive given the overall budget of the movie. The beast itself is pretty terrifying in some scenes which is owed to good cinematography. Though there are times when the effects and werewolf look very fake. Though that is how it is for virtually all werewolf movies, but monster fanatics have learned to appreciate. Its a good horror flick with a strong cast, good plot, and some nice gore layered on top. Arguably its one of the best werewolf movies ever made.
I've known about this movie since 2000 when Artisan Entertainment sold it as just another entry in their generic line of straight-to-video titles. It wasn't until Jennifer's Body came along and I started to draw parallels between the two movies that I finally decided to give Ginger her long overdue day in court.
Both stories have familiar themes. Both involve a pair of young girls, one of them "dies" and comes back "cursed" while the other watches as her friend/sister goes from normal to monstrous, classmates and neighbors die and, in the end, the weaker one becomes victorious but must commit a final act of mercy to set her loved one free as well as getting "marked" in the process. But where Jennifer was the popular cheerleader, here both Ginger and her little sister Brigitte are like Needy. They're outcasts due to their inability to conform with the "happy, shinny people and only have each other to depend on. Once Ginger begins to change, her popularity increases amongst the guys while she slowly starts turning her back on her sister. In the end, the underlining story to both movies is really the death of a lifelong bond which, for many of us, is all to tragically true.
Casting here was pitch perfect as both Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins really do look like they could be related. They are both gifted actresses and I can only hope to see more of their work expand past the Ginger trilogy. Mimi Rogers (Lost In Space) provides an equally strong comedic relief as the Fitzgerald's loving albeit totally clueless mother.
The writing here, as in Jennifer's Body, was well written utilizing a snappy rhetoric that helps prevent both films from being dated especially here in Ginger Snaps being that it is now over thirteen years old and still feels as if it was made just yesterday. Longevity is key to helping any movie sustain throughout the years. Case in point, look how old and dated Clueless feels now.
Possibly the best thing about this movie is the actual werewolf. Given that this is a low budget, Indie movie, there is no CGI effects here. All of the creature FX was done on camera using the old fashioned make up and appliances and the end results are pretty terrifying. There's something sadly missing today when studios insist on using Imaginary Reactions from the actors in lieu of actually giving them something tangible to work with.
Unfortunately, this neo teen classic, like the bigger budgeted aforementioned follower, went under nearly everybody's radar and ended up performing dismally at the box office. As of right now, various studios here in the U.S. mishandled the DVD release. Currently, First Look Pictures owns the rights to Ginger Snaps but they are releasing the same full screen, bare bones edition Artisan used thirteen years ago meaning a cropped picture and a horrible 2.0 sound. There is a Canadian Collector's Edition with an anamorphic 1.78 widescreen disc, 5.0 surround sound, and loaded with special features available still but they are becoming increasingly harder to find and even more pricey. Personally, I own a copy of the even more rarer Ginger Snaps: The Trilogy box set that includes the Canadian editions of all three films. I was fortunate enough to find it for $30 at a Half Price Books. Just take a look at what the Amazon Marketplace sellers are asking for this OOP set. For the casual viewer just interested in seeing what all the fuss is about, get one of the current copies being sold. But if you seriously want to add this to your collection, I say go the extra mile and the extra buck and seek out the Collector's Edition. You'll be thankful you did once you see all it has to offer.
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