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Ginger Snaps – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Ginger-SnapsPrior to this Collector’s Edition, those of us in the US have had a rare chance to see this film correctly.  Its been available on VHS and DVD.  However, that DVD carried over the 4:3 pan & scan aspect ratio.  There was a Canadian edition that featured the correct presentation and it also came with a slew of extras.  None of that would be found on the US edition that came out.  It was bare bones.  Pine not for that stuff anymore, as Scream Factory has come to the rescue with their Collector’s Edition of Ginger Snaps, giving us fans pretty much everything and anything we’ve ever wanted from this fantastic Werewolf movie.  With Scream Factory at the helm of one of my all-time favorite films, this surely would be a treat.

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Film 

Ginger and Brigitte are two inseparable sisters with a penchant for loving death and a pact of “Out by sixteen or dead in this scene”.  One night while on their way to pull a prank on a popular girl that wronged them at school, Ginger is attacked and bitten by the creature that has been ruthlessly killing neighborhood dogs.  Ginger quickly heals from the attack and shortly after starts her womanhood that her and Brigitte were 3 years behind on.  Ginger starts craving blood and begins growing hair and a tail.  She’s losing her mind and becoming a wolf.  Its up to her sister Brigitte to find a way to reverse the curse and save her sister before its too late.

I first saw Ginger Snaps in the summer of 2004.  When we were going to the Family Video on campus to rent movies for a Friday night one summer (3 VHS for $1 or 2 DVD for $3), my friend Cameron suggested Ginger Snaps as he had heard good things and I was kinda like “whatever”.  It was only there on VHS so we got that.  As soon as this film started I was in and glued.  For a movie I was so ho hum about renting, I fell absolutely in love.  I had never seen anything like it.  Yes, it was a werewolf movie, but this wasn’t like all the others.  And I found myself taken with the women hitting puberty angle metaphor this approach was excelling at.

Ginger Snaps is my absolute favorite werewolf movie of all time.  The film is a really unique take and one that actually has a story to boot that isn’t just focused on someone turning into a werewolf off and on.  This story is entirely about the slow process of becoming one.  Its also the story of two extremely close sisters hitting a crossroads in life and growing apart from one another.  And the biggie here is the way its presented.  This feels pretty real.  For as fictional and supernatural as the film is, it actually plays very realistically without taking itself overly serious or treating the material as if it were the bible.  I’m buying everything they’re selling as this story goes on and talks about the werewolves, mythology and transformation.  The film also takes this old horror subgenre and makes it feel completely fresh, giving it an unpredictable and new feeling.

Possibly the greatest strength of selling all this is our two leads, Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins.  After this movie, its hard to see them apart and not with one another in things.  They have such an amazing chemistry and play off each other extremely well.  Its probably one of the best pairings of 2 actors in cinema history.  And when we get to the point where Ginger is growing up and starting to leave Brigitte in the dust, as a viewer it really starts to bum you out and hurt you as you really love these two together and don’t like seeing this sort of thing happen to them.  Its a testament to not only the script but to their performances that we get this way.  I also love the fact that this film is about two women, and it ALLOWS the film to be about them too.  Male characters are very much on the outside and secondary.  Its up them and them alone to have this film play out and succeed.  I don’t know if the film meets all feminist requirements, but it certainly is one that is female-centric and follows through on such a promise.

Special effects appearing in Ginger Snaps are all practical too.  CGI was not an option at the time as it was too expensive.  This film is likely one of the very last times a werewolf movie would go to practical effects.  The gore and blood is outrageous and the wolf looks pretty unique, realistic and menacing as well.  A lot of the work succeeding is in the actual execution too.  Its filmed on the “less is more” approach.  But early on, during the first attack, its all frantic and almost from Ginger and Brigitte’s point of view as to how they are seeing and remember this intense supernatural creature attacking them.  Its not til the end that we get some full body shots and some close ups that the wolf really takes shape.  And the thing damn well works wonders too.  Its a guy in a full body costume, but it moves so naturally and wicked that its pretty much inhuman.  The wolf design is cool too as its relatively hairless.  For as low budget as this movie was, these effects blow a lot of the other horror films of the time out of the water.

Ginger Snaps is one of the greatest films to come out of Canada period.  I know there’s plenty of cult horror titles we’ve had in the past from there (and this is one of them), but this is truly a gem that maybe just couldn’t get out there correctly or was ahead of its time.  It had a successful debut at Toronto International Film Festival, but no succeed in a Canadian theatrical run and never found theatrical distribution in the US.  It did have a screening in New York that is sort of where the roots of the cult following were planted following a glorious review that came after.  Luckily it did find its way (mainly through repeat viewings on HBO) and its received its comeuppance.  Four years after its completion it would find itself as a series when a sequel and a prequel were both produced.  Of the two, the sequel is absolutely dynamite and I find really damn close to being as good as the original.

John Fawcett’s and Karen Walton’s creation, Ginger Snaps, is a damn good coming of age/werewolf/women in horror/puberty horror film that I think will probably stand the test of time as it already has.  It didn’t come flying out of the gates, but like some of the greatest films of the genre, took its time and started to find its place and audience.  To me, its the greatest werewolf movie of all time and features two of my favorite characters in film history in that of the Fitzgerald sisters.  The film is exploitative, touching, scary, provocative and thrilling.  Every time I revisit the film I love it even more.  It should definitely be on that “must see” checklist for any horror fan who is studying up on the classics, as it definitely is one.  And to think, when someone offered it up for a rental that fateful summer night of 2004, I was just like “Eh, whatever, sure”.  What a surprise that VHS rental turned out to be.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail: Ginger Snaps has never looked this good before for us in the US or for anywhere for that matter.  This isn’t some present day Fox title getting released, but it is quite spectacular for those of us who have gone through all the iterations of this film from VHS to Blu-ray.  Its a fall movie and this picture quality perfectly reflects that.  Its one of the best horror movies at capturing that seasons, and this Blu-ray certainly conveys that feeling.  Plenty of detail on leaves and trees.

Depth: There are some good aerial shots that display great depth.  Also, the scene where Ginger enters school and struts her stuff is a good example.

Black Levels:  Blacks are rich in color.  There are times where its really dark, and some crushing is evident, but there is a lot of it by design as this was a low budget affair and they tactuflly had some scenes lit very dark so as to not reveal some of the magic.

Color Reproduction: Colors are muted, but lifelike.  Red blood does rather stick out.  Things are rather muted, but its helps to get that sort of cold fall feeling.

Flesh Tones: Lifelike and warm. Consistent throughout.  Detail is very high on facial details in medium and close up shots.

Noise/Artifacts:  Just some specs, gain and film dirt.  Gives the film a terrific flavor.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  This release is plenty beefed up.  The 2.0 track rather excels in its performance, as expected.  The 5.1 track is well put together with levels balanced but loose on the dialogue, effects and score.  Many foley effects are noticeable throughout all the speakers in your room.  Its crazy how good this sounds.  This is one of Scream Factory’s finest 5.1 tracks they’ve ever put out.

Low Frequency Extension: Used to enhance the roar of the wolf.  It also beefs up the score, and action effects.  Also the techno and metal music played gets a boost from the sub.  Also, Ginger’s beating on doors and the wolf tearing through the house at the end feels very much present in your living room.

Surround Sound Presentation: This is awesome, as they play around with the 5.1 plenty.  You can hear a wolf come running up behind you, rooms in a house getting ransacked from speaker to speaker.  Every environment also carries a great sense of space and place with the ambiance filtered in the rear speakers.  There’s also plenty of great right to left action in the speakers, especially present when Ginger is snapped by the wolf in the playground at night.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Clean, clear, crisp and mainly in the front.

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Extras 

Ginger Snaps come with the DVD version of the film as well as a reversible  over.  All extras from a previous Canadian edition have been included.

Audio Commentary With Director John Fawcett – The director takes us through the production of the film with his personal anecdotes and stories.  I believe this commentary was ported over from the previous Canadian DVD edition.

Audio Commentary With Writer Karen Walton – In what I think is another older ported commentary, the writer gets a bit deep into the meanings and metaphors of the film  She also touches on the shooting and some other ideas she had for the film but didn’t make it to the final draft.

Ginger Snaps: Blood, Teeth and Fur (HD, 1:06:34) – Another dynamite retrospective featurette.  This one didn’t get Katharine Isabel or Kris Lemche back.  That’s fine though, as this takes on you on a journey.  There’s no discussion about the sequels, but this takes us from the inception of the idea for the movie through to production, casting, effects, location scouting, filming, post production, screenings, selling the film, its cult following…EVERYTHING is here.

Growing Pains: Puberty In Horror Films (HD, 27:09) – This is a great panel-like discussion on the topic from 4 of the biggest figureheads in the world of horror appreciation.  Included in the mix is one of my favorite horror writers/podcasters, Fangoria’s Rebecca McKendry.  The inclusion of this is great discussion is a major plus on the bonus features of the release.

Deleted Scenes (HD, 25:07)

  • With Director John Fawcett Commentary
  • With Writer Karen Walton Commentary

Featurette (HD, 4:51) – A brief little EPK that looks to have been shot when the film was in production.  It does feature a Katharine Isable interview.

Being John Fawcett (HD, 1:51) – From the point of view of the director behind a hand held camera, he hangs out with Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabel during a break in shooting.

Theatrical Trailers (HD, 3:45) – 2 trailers

TV Spots (HD, 1:01) – 2 television commercials

Production Design Artwork – Some designs for made up signage, business logos, magazines and the like for this film.  The photos come with a description and goal with what they’re supposed to accomplish with the image.

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Summary 

Ginger Snaps has been given an amazing Blu-ray release.  Not only is this one of the best Blu-rays you will pick up this calendear year, but its absolutely one of the BEST EVER releases from Scream Factory.  This disc is LOADED with informative non-repetitive and valuable bonus content as well as the best video and audio presentation Ginger Snaps has ever seen.  Without looking, if this isn’t the best Scream Factory release of all time, its EASILY top 3-5.  I expect only the best from Shout! Factory and the Scream Factory label, but even I was quite a bit blown away when I popped this one in for review.  Bravo to everyone involved with the making of this disc.  It belongs in every collection.  Hurry up and add it to yours today!

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a 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. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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