#19: Ginger Snaps
If you liked Jennifer's Body, you're going to get a kick out of this one. And even if you didn't, my money's still on the werewolf.
Our little girl's a young woman now.
It's honestly surprising to me that I haven't covered a werewolf movie yet in this HorrorThon, because they are some of my very favorite creatures, and in a movie world filled with vampires and zombies, werewolves are like a breath of fresh, dog-scented air.
I could have covered any number of demon-dog classics, but Ginger Snaps is not only worthy of a top spot in the Best Werewolf Film list, but also chock full of women exercising their power - and y'all know by now that I really, really like that.
It should occur to you pretty early on that this Canadian horror-comedy from 2000 had to have been a major influence on Cody and Kusama when making Jennifer's Body. It's about two sisters and their oddly (and I do mean odd as in macabre) close relationship, and most importantly, about "becoming a woman." Is there a better way to put that? Let's just be frank: it's about getting your period.
For all the dudes that just clicked our of their browser window, you're big chickens. For everyone that is now intrigued and thinking, werewolves cycle with the moon, periods cycle with the lunar calendar, good on you. Because it's a killer joke, and a very accurate portrayal of what it's like to... change.
Classic werewolf movies can't help but be about change. I mean, come on - it's the most literal manifestation possible. But more often than not, the monster is used with men. Case-in-point, another all time favorite, An American Werewolf in London. David and Jack are foreigners out of their element, two college students on the brink of real adulthood, and they're attacked. Jack is taken out. David infected. And his change (still one of the best FX moments in all the land), is violent and completely out of his hands. As is his sudden unconscious desire to devour human beings during the full moon. Ultimately, David can't prevent his change - or at least, he can't prevent others from seeing him for it.
Ginger suffers the same. Only, everyone around her thinks she's just becoming a woman. Because excess body hair, heavy bleeding, and a suddenly volatile temper are all symptoms of adolescence and PMS, right?
I can think of no more perfect metaphor for how alienating such a change can be, and also, how terribly the (to quote the oh-so-eloquent Jennifer from last night's film) "boy-run media" can distort what women who are "pluggin'" can be like.
Ginger and Brigitte in the drugstore purchasing tampons. There isn't any blood, it isn't scary, but it includes two of the most important lines of dialogue ever: "This one comes with a free calendar" (in reference to a box of tampons), and "The words just and cramps don't go together." #Truth.
Also love the reaction of the girls' teacher after screening their "Death Project" slide show. He's impressed, and then disturbed, and then ready to have them meet him in the guidance office after class. It's a pretty damn good slide show.
Other Things to Notice:
Mimi Rogers is easily my favorite part of this film. She plays what is no doubt the most naive, saccharin, ex-cheerleader mother-figure to ever exist. She wants to make entry into woman-hood an exciting time for her girls (can't you just feel the embarrassment, ladies?), all while she seasonally decorates and bakes. What is most surprising, and most important about Mimi as Mom, is that she is who she is, and she sticks to it. She wants to be there for her daughters - daughters who appear to be her exact opposite and despise becoming anything like her. She sees no shame in what comes with being female. And when it comes down to it, she has no qualms about packing it all up to take her daughters away from the neighborhood and on the run. Because this Mom is committed, she loves her girls, and as it turns out, they're not all that different, anyway.
And in case you're sick of it already, YES, female friendship and bonds are incredibly important to me. I think they're largely waived in big-budget studio films in favor of the dramatic cat-fights and tension that sells tickets. I don't think the men who are dominant in the screenwriting and directorial fields really understand just how damaging the perpetuation of that stereotype can be. My generation has been seeing it played out so long, I think we often play it ourselves. I champion any film that shows women helping other women - at any and all costs. If you're looking for the same, you won't be disappointed here.
And finally, Katherine Isabelle. I'll be watching American Mary shortly, a much more recent film in which she stars. Just know that Isabelle is basically the Canadian horror Queen. And if you've been watching the incredible Hannibal on NBC (until it's untimely and gut wrenching cancellation), you'll know what's up. She's a light. Enjoy her early performance here - her personality only grows stronger, and she deserves every ounce of your recognition and respect.
If You Like It, Watch:
The Howling: It's been a while since I stole a copy from my father's bootleg VHS collection, but this is a great werewolf film. Joe Dante (who did Gremlins) directed, and it doesn't have just one werewolf, but a whole COLONY. Enjoy. Watch the Trailer
An American Werewolf in London: It really pains me that I don't have this scheduled on my HorrorThon list (31 days is not enough!), but I do believe that everyone should watch this at least once. If not for the classic transformation scene, for John Landis's on-point direction, hilarious script, and the best cut to end credits in any horror film. A classic. Follow it up with Animal House, just because. Watch the Trailer