Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Rod Daniel|
|Music by||Miles Goodman|
|Edited by||Lois Freeman-Fox|
|Distributed by||Atlantic Releasing Corporation|
|Box office||$80 million|
Teen Wolf is a 1985 American coming-of-age romantic fantasy comedy film directed by Rod Daniel and written by Jeph Loeb and Matthew Weisman. Michael J. Fox stars as title character, a high school student whose ordinary life is changed when he discovers that he is a werewolf. James Hampton, Scott Paulin, Susan Ursitti, Jerry Levine and Jay Tarses appear in supporting roles.
The film was released on August 23, 1985, by Atlantic Releasing Corporation. It received mixed reviews, but was a commercial success, grossing over $80 million on a $1.2 million budget. Due its success, the film spawned an animated series adaptation in 1986 and a 1987 sequel that featured Hampton and Mark Holton as the only returning cast members. Teen Wolf also influenced a supernatural drama series of the same name that aired on MTV from 2011 to 2017.
Scott Howard is a 17-year-old high school student who is sick of being average. Living in a small town in Nebraska, his only claim to popularity is playing on the Beavers, his school's basketball team (which is very unsuccessful), and fawning after his crush Pamela Wells, who is dating his rival Mick. Mick plays for the Dragons, an opposing team who tends to bully Scott on the court. Completely oblivious to his best friend Boof's affections, he constantly rebuffs her advances due to their history together.
After a series of startling changes such as long hair suddenly sprouting, hands suddenly getting hairy, he decides to quit the team, but his coach, Finstock, changes his mind. Scoring a keg with his friend Stiles for a party, Scott and Boof end up alone in a closet and Scott gets rough when they begin making out, accidentally clawing Boof's back. When he returns home, he undergoes a strange transformation and discovers he is a werewolf. His father Harold confronts him and reveals he too is a werewolf, and that he had hoped Scott would not inherit the curse because "sometimes it skips a generation".
Scott reveals his secret to Stiles, who agrees to keep it a secret, but when Scott becomes stressed on the court at the next basketball game, he becomes the wolf and helps win their first game in three years. This has an unexpected result of fame and popularity as the high school is overwhelmed with "Wolf Fever", which quickly alienates Scott from Boof and from his teammates as he begins to hog the ball during games.
Stiles merchandises "Teen Wolf" paraphernalia and Pamela finally begins paying attention to Scott. After he gets a role as a 'werewolf cavalryman' in the school play alongside her, she comes onto him in the dressing room and the two have sex. Later, after a date set up to make Mick jealous on purpose, Pamela tells Scott that she is still seeing Mick and is not interested in Scott as a boyfriend, much to his disappointment. Harold tells Scott he is responsible for vice principal Rusty Thorne breathing down his neck, due to a scare he had given him when he was in high school, and advises him to be himself and not the wolf.
With the upcoming spring dance, Boof agrees to go with Scott, but only if he goes as himself, not the Wolf. Scott goes alone as the Wolf and has a great time. However, Boof is not impressed with this. She takes Scott out into the hallway and they kiss, which turns Scott back into himself. When they return to the dance, everyone pays attention to him, including Pamela. Mick gets upset and taunts Scott until the Wolf comes out and attacks him. His fans then turn on him and he runs out right into Thorne, who threatens to expel Scott from school. Harold appears and tells his son to go home, then tells Thorne to leave Scott alone. He intimidates Thorne by growling into his face, causing the Vice Principal to pee himself.
Scott renounces using the wolf, quitting the play and the basketball team, who have come to expect it. During the championship game, Scott arrives and rallies his teammates to play without the wolf in order to win the game. Despite the odds, the team begins to play together and they make ground against the Dragons. During the final quarter, behind by one point, Scott is fouled by Mick at the buzzer. He makes both shots, winning the game and the championship to everyone's delight. Brushing past Pamela, Scott kisses Boof as his father comes down and hugs the two of them. Mick tells Pamela that they should leave, but she tells him to "drop dead" and storms off while everyone else celebrates the victory.
- Michael J. Fox as Scott Howard
- James Hampton as Harold Howard
- Susan Ursitti as Lisa "Boof" Marconi
- Jerry Levine as Rupert "Stiles" Stilinski
- Matt Adler as Lewis
- Lorie Griffin as Pamela Wells
- Jim McKrell as Vice Principal Rusty Thorne
- Mark Arnold as Mick McAllister
- Jay Tarses as Coach Bobby Finstock
- Mark Holton as Chubby
- Scott Paulin as Kirk Lolley
- Doug Savant as Brad
Teen Wolf was one of the first scripts written by Jeph Loeb. Loeb was hired to write it because the studio, after the surprising success of the film Valley Girl, wanted to make a comedy that would cost almost nothing (the production costs amounted to about $1 million) and take very little time to film. The project came together when Michael J. Fox accepted the lead role and his Family Ties co-star Meredith Baxter-Birney became pregnant, which created a delay in the sitcom's filming that allowed Fox time to complete filming and then return to his sitcom.
Released August 23, 1985, Teen Wolf debuted at No. 2 in its opening weekend, behind Back to the Future (also starring Michael J. Fox). After its initial run, the film grossed $33,086,661 domestically, with a worldwide gross of about $80 million.
Despite its commercial success, the film's critical reception was at best mixed. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 44% of 32 critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 5.1 out of 10. The consensus summarizes: "Though Michael J. Fox is as charismatic as ever, Teen Wolf's coming-of-age themes can't help but feel a little stale and formulaic." On Metacritic, the film has a 25 out of 100 rating based on 5 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".
Vincent Canby of The New York Times gave the film a negative review calling it "aggressively boring". He went on to say that "the film is overacted by everybody except Mr. Fox, who is seen to far better advantage in Back to the Future."
Teen Wolf was first released on DVD via MGM in a "Double Feature" pack with its sequel Teen Wolf Too on August 27, 2002. The film was later released on Blu-ray on March 29, 2011. The only special feature available on any of the releases is the film's theatrical trailer. The film was reissued on Blu-ray Disc on August 8, 2017, by Scream! Factory, with a remastered transfer and a new "making of" featurette.
|Teen Wolf: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
|Soundtrack album by |
|Released||January 1, 1985|
|1.||"Flesh on Fire"||James House||4:05|
|2.||"Big Bad Wolf"||The Wolf Sisters||2:36|
|3.||"Win in the End"||Mark Safan||4:41|
|4.||"Shootin' for the Moon"||Amy Holland||2:45|
|6.||"Way to Go"||Mark Vieha||3:45|
|7.||"Good News"||David Morgan||2:56|
|8.||"Transformation (Instrumental)"||Miles Goodman||2:29|
|9.||"Boof (Instrumental)"||Miles Goodman||1:54|
Animated television series
An animated series adaptation aired on CBS for two seasons from 1986 to 1987. Townsend Coleman voiced the lead role of Scott Howard, with James Hampton reprising his role as Harold Howard. The series retained the basic premise and most of the characters from the film, but made changes to the story, such as Scott attempting to keep his werewolf identity secret from the general public. It also featured new characters, including Scott's grandparents (voiced by Stacy Keach Sr. and June Foray) and younger sister Lupe.
A sequel entitled Teen Wolf Too was released in 1987 that starred Jason Bateman as Todd Howard, Scott Howard's cousin. Only James Hampton and Mark Holton returned from the original film, with the sequel focusing mostly on new characters led by Todd. It received negative reviews and failed to match the success of its predecessor, grossing $7.9 million on a $3 million budget. A second sequel starring Alyssa Milano was planned, but never filmed. Another female version of Teen Wolf was in the works that later developed into 1989's Teen Witch.
Live-action television series
MTV greenlit a television series adaptation in 2009 that was developed by Jeff Davis. While also centered on a high school student who becomes a werewolf, the story was reimagined as a supernatural teen drama with elements of action and horror. Tyler Posey portrayed the title character, whose name was changed to Scott McCall for the series. It aired for six seasons from 2011 to 2017.
- I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957), an earlier horror film about a high school teenage werewolf
- Full Moon High (1981), an earlier comedy-horror film about a high school teenage werewolf
- Big Wolf on Campus (1999), a Canadian TV series on Saban, about a high-school senior boy who has been bitten by a werewolf, becoming one himself.
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