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Teen Wolf – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Teen Wolf today is not really at all what Teen Wolf was to the 1980s. The MTV relaunch of the show was the grimdark reinvention of the original hit movie from the 80s. It originated as a coming of age teen comedy of a guy in search of being elite in high school only to find that’s not really who he is. Michael J. Fox bounced from Family Ties to this to Back to the Future right here to catapult him into superstardom. In fact, he was shooting all three at the same time, believe it or not. Scream Factory is revisiting the film with a brand new 2K transfer and attached a near two and a half hour documentary on the making of this popular little horror-comedy (Sadly, Fox is not a participant for an interview). You can get your pre-order in now, Prime members, to ensure your copy is on the doorstep when it releases on Augusts 8th on Blu-ray.

Film 

He always wanted to be special … but he never expected this! Like all teenagers, Scott Howard 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. Naturally, these uncanny new features turn this loveable loser into the most popular kid in school. But by embracing his newly minted popularity, has the Teen Wolf lost sight of what it truly means to be Scott Howard?

One of the more iconic movies of the 1980s, Teen Wolf took a spin on a horror classic and had fun with it. Rather than sit and hide a secret from everyone, the film’s lead Scott Howard comes right out into the open with everything. His wolf is also never really a threat or dangerous. While, duh, these things are always some sort of metaphor, this one really just is about being yourself and not who you think you should be. The film features some dated teen slang (The word “fag” is tossed around, even in the first big revelation “I’m not a fag, I’m a werewolf), but otherwise its journey is very universal for your white kid protagonist.

Irrelevant, but funny to me, is that Teen Wolf showcases a lot of basketball. Hoops bookend the start and finish of the film while also showing up for a pick up game in the middle. For as much basketball there is and the stakes it endures, this movie sure feels like its never really seen or learned a basketball game. There are some rough hits suited for a hockey match. And Michael J. Fox is supposed to be one of the best players on the court, yet looks like he just picked up a ball for the first time ever right before the director called “Action” on the first set up for a basketball scene. I’m pretty sure if you pay attention to the scoreboard it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense during the exhibitions either.

If its an 80s movie, its got to have a kicking soundtrack, right? Well, Teen Wolf really doesn’t produce some memorable songs. Instead, most of its original material sounds like complete knock offs of better, more chart heavy songs. One song was a riff on Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) by Journey which opened sounding like an elevator version but they started up with different lyrics and I was all sorts of thrown off. Where it does excel with its 80s bump n’ grind is the score of the film. This thing bumps and brings the audbile iconography on its own. It sounds like something used in a lot of montages for 80s throwback or commercials. When Teen Wolf has on the shades, letter jacket and headphones, this is the kinda music he’s kicking it to.

Teen Wolf is one of the more iconic comedy and horror films of the 1980s. It blended both quite well. There are unforgettable moments, loads of quotable lines, a fun cast and music that still gets you to boogie down nicely if you’re wanting too. There is some very dated slang and language in it that could raise an eyebrow, but its just a product of its time. Michael J. Fox is a real standout here, but his support holds their own and is quite awesome in their own right.  This is a fun, silly throwback that will get those nostalgia juices flowing when you revisit it on this Blu-ray.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Teen Wolf returns to Blu-ray with a new polish, that being a 2K transfer of the interpositive. Judging from previous reviews and stills from the original release, this is a definite upgrade as things look plenty detailed, full and crisper around the edges. Its not the most pretty of pictures, but I have an admiration of the old school film reel projection kind of look it carries. You almost feel transplanted right back into a theater for opening weekend 1985.

Depth: Nothing to set the world on fire, but its a confident image and has no real issues with blurring or jittering during rushed movements. Good spacing between characters and background and there’s a confidence now seen in the camera movements.

Black Levels: Blacks are deeper and quite dark when its night. Pitch black. Details mostly hold up, though some information is barely hidden that was meant to be seen. Grain can come a hair heavier in the darkness. No crushing witnessed during this viewing of the film.

Color Reproduction: Colors are strong, bold and hold on to a natural presentation in their look. While blues, purples, reds, yellows pop with an 80s flair, none of it bleeds or stretches on going beyond what the actual color should be in the film.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and for the most part make a consistent appearance throughout. There are a couple times, mainly in darkness, where they are just different or whiter, by a hair. Details such as sweat, make-up, acne, freckles and more stand out in close-ups and somewhat decently in medium shots. The make-up work on the werewolf and his transformation is both very clear, but also shows a bit of the strings.

Noise/Artifacts: There are some minimal dirt/specs to go along with some graininess at times (Which is mainly light for the most part).

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: This appears to be the same disappointing track from the previous release of the film. Granted it does what it can and is listenable, volume levels can bounce around. The mix itself is none spectacular and rather eye opening to how bad the original audio on this was. Music can get loud and engaging and then be followed up with characters just very lightly talking. Some echo’ing in the source or ADR plagues this one in areas and effects can tend to step on dialogue or distract focused scoring in spots.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are plenty audible, but seem like their set volume is place a bit too low.

Extras 

Teen Wolf – Collector’s Edition comes with a reversible cover featuring the original poster art.

Never. Say. Die. The Story of Teen Wolf (HD, 2:23:10) – 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; and editor Lois Freeman-Fox.  Michael J. Fox isn’t here, but don’t let that stop them from praising the hell out of him. They also talk about being there for when Michael replaced Eric Stoltz during shooting of Teen Wolf for Back to the Future. This docuementary is INSANE as its an hour longer than the film itself, incredibly detailed and full of colorful commentators, stories and painting a big picture of the film Quite astonishing. They also got Rob Galluzzo from Blumhouse and Shock Waves podcast as  talking head in this and every chance you can get to listen to him talk vintage horror is an absolute treat!

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:52) 

Still Gallery (HD, 6:14)

Summary 

Teen Wolf still holds up as pretty fun and energetic in the thirty three years since its theatrical release. Scream Factory has improved the video quality on it pretty noticeably, but the audio is still the same old one with a poor mix and a mere decent presentation. When you pop up the Extras menu it doesn’t look like much, but when you see that the documentary is two and a half hours long, you’ll realize that its everything. Even worth getting this release for alone (Over that of the film). Snag yourself a copy before the next full moon hits.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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