Let me start off by saying that I consider myself to be a bit of a werewolf movie aficionado. I can’t claim to have seen every werewolf movie ever made, but I have seen a lot of them, and I’ve found that they can be separated into three categories:
1: Exceptional These are rare. In fact, I can only think of a handful that I would consider putting into this category. The original 1941 Universal The Wolfman (Lon Chaney Jr.) and 1981′s An American Werewolf in London (still my favorite John Landis film, sorry Animal House and Blues Brothers) are definitely on this list. I’d like to put The Howling (also from 1981, it featured special effects wizard Rick Baker as a consultant. Baker, of course, won the Academy Award for his make up work in An American Werewolf in London) in this category, but I fear it might be for sentimental reasons.
2: Good A slightly wider selection of movies for a much more subjective rating. Silver Bullet, Dog Soldiers, et cetera.
3: God Awful The largest number of werewolf movies seem to fit into this category. Jesus, there’s so many truly terrible werewolf movies. So many, in fact, that I can’t even pick two to list here to show you how bad they really are. Seriously. Wait, no, I’d have to go with Big Bad Wolf as being a part of this category because it has a talking werewolf. A talking god damn werewolf.
I first saw Ginger Snaps on a seemingly worn out VHS tape that I’d rented from my local Hollywood Video (video store, kids. go ask your parents). “Oh, a werewolf movie I haven’t seen? And it has attractive Canadian women in it? HERE’S MY MEMBERSHIP CARD, TAKE MY MONEY PLEASE!” I thought. I got it home, tossed it in the player, adjusted the tracking several times (again, ask your parents) and once the picture wasn’t all over the place, I was pleasantly surprised.
Ginger Snaps is one of those unique werewolf movies that uses lycanthropy as a metaphor for something else. Don’t misunderstand me, the use of lycanthropy as a metaphor is not what makes this film unique, it’s that the film pulls it off and makes it interesting. The first Ginger Snaps film uses the transition from human to werewolf to mirror puberty and the transition from girlhood to womanhood (I’ll never forget the day I became a woman, wait, what?). The transformation takes place slowly and throughout the film, as the character of Bridget watches her sister Ginger slowly slip away from her. Bridget fights back against the wolf by trying to cure her sister before the transition is complete, but since there are not one but TWO sequels, you can probably guess that it doesn’t work out so well for her. Surprisingly good acting (Canadians!) coupled with solid writing and some pretty decent make up effects make Ginger Snaps the sort of stand-alone werewolf movie a guy like me can truly appreciate.
But again, we wouldn’t be here if Ginger Snaps was a stand-alone movie, now would we?
Enter Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed (Subtitle: get it? Unleashed? like, a dog on a leash, but it’s off the leash because it’s not a dog it’s a WEREWOLF! get it? guys?).
In regard to werewolf movies in general, Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed is not that bad. I mean, it is, but there are way worse movies out there (including a prequel to the first Ginger Snaps, but that’s another review entirely and yes, it’s coming soon). It’s just a really disappointing follow-up to a smart and interesting film like the first Ginger Snaps.
Brigitte failed to save Ginger at the end of the first film and not only that, but she injects the lycanthropy directly into her (science!). This means that the slow and painful transformation from human to werewolf that Brigitte witnessed her sister go through is now happening to her. Luckily, Brigitte has the research and samples of monkshood that she gathered through the course of the first film, to help her cure herself (and others, if need be). But it’s not enough and so she raids the local library (presumably to check out “Curing Lycanthropy For Dummies”), where she is hit on by Jeremy the Librarian. She ignores his advances and leaves when he tells her how much she owes in late fees.
Her search for a cure would be so much easier if A: She wasn’t on the run from an unknown male werewolf that wants to get it on with her (presumably doggy-style, am I right? I’m so sorry) and B: She wasn’t plagued by the ghost/hallucination of her dead sister who constantly mocks her attempts at curing the disease that killed her. Brigitte’s life pretty much sucks right now, guys.
She injects the monkshood (wolfsbane) into her system the same way a junkie shoots up with heroin, but she learns that it’s not enough to cure the disease, only stave off the transformation for a while. Deciding that “If a little is good, then a bunch must be better!” (again, junkie mentality) she injects herself with a lot of monkshood. What should be a deadly dose. It’s after she injects herself with a shit ton of this anti-werewolf juice that she sniffs out the presence of the male werewolf that has been pursuing her (I hate it when that happens). Still reeling from the huge dose of monkshood she just shoved into her veins, she opens the door to confront… Jeremy the Librarian! He just came to Bridget’s motel room to say hi, in a non-creepy stalker way, but instead finds Brigitte has overdosed on something in a tiny syringe. Oh no! Jeremy, being the upstanding guy he is (he’s a librarian, dammit), helps Brigitte to his car and tells her he’ll take her to the hospital. And I’m sure he would have, too, if a giant horny male werewolf didn’t smash into the car and eat him. A rather woozy Brigitte climbs out of the car and staggers a ways down the road before collapsing into the snow. The male werewolf is apparently also a gentleman werewolf, as he does not take advantage of the passed out young lady werewolf.
Brigitte wakes up in a rehabilitation clinic for young women who do things like overdose on mysterious drugs and pass out in the snow. She makes every attempt to explain to the staff that she needs to leave soon or she will turn into a monster and eat them all, but for some reason they don’t take that news well and she’s committed until further notice. While in this One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest style home for wayward crazy chicks, she meets Ghost. Ghost is a young girl who is obsessed with death and comic books (who isn’t?) and who learns of Bridget’s horrible secret.
So, we have a young woman who is slowly turning into a bloodthirsty beast, a horny werewolf on the prowl tracking her, and a mental hospital full of seemingly innocent patients who are trapped with her in their midst. Sounds like a fun time, right? The movie snowballs from here and a lot of weird things happen. People get eaten, people have sex with other people in order to illegally obtain drugs, Brigitte hallucinates that her entire crazy chick yoga class is really a big masturbation club (seriously). You know, the sort of things that happen in all werewolf movies.
I list this one as another of those sequels that, while I fully acknowledge how bad it is, I still really enjoy. I don’t know why or how, but for some reason, this disappointing sequel is still a fun viewing experience for me. As a fan of the original Ginger Snaps, I can’t say this is a satisfying follow-up, but as I said before, at least it doesn’t have a talking god damn werewolf in it.