Welcome back, weirdos, to another edition of Awfully Good, where we celebrate trash movies! Tonight’s feature presentation is Teen Wolf, a timeless tale of sports, puberty, and style- or is that Stiles? We’ll get to that in a minute, but first we need to cover some ground rules. 1. Just because we use terms like bad, trash, stupid, awful, cheesy, or not culturally or aesthetically significant, that’s not a slam. We wouldn’t be on the fifteenth installment of this column if we didn’t genuinely love these movies, warts and all. 2. No car surfing, unless it’s gonna be really cool. With that outta the way, let’s take a look at Teen Wolf!
Teen Wolf begins with Scott Howard (Michael J. Fox) sucking at basketball. There’s an Adult Teenager named Mick on the other team who succinctly summarizes everything we need to know to start this movie when he looks Scott in the eye and says, “You guys suck.” This has a profound impact on Scott, who apparently has never dealt with the world’s tamest trash talk before. He takes his shame into the locker room, where he discovers he has some really long chest hair. Like, just three of them. He goes to talk it over with his coach, and I’ll say this for the coach: he’s actually funny. A lot of the humor that we find in these movies is unintentional, but the coach puts forth a solid performance.
“Teen Wolf, a timeless tale of sports, puberty, and style- or is that Stiles?”
Scott walks from school to his dad’s hardware store with his friend Boof. Is Boof her real name? What’s Boof short for? Is Boof a first name or a last name? SPOILER ALERT: we never find out! It’s never addressed! Before long, we’re introduced to another of Scott‘s friends, the inimitable Stiles. He’s the Cool Dude in this film, and he’ll let you know it. Unfortunately, he’s not quite cool enough to trick the liquor store owner into selling him a keg for the Big Party tonight. He enlists Scott‘s help, suggesting Scott rob the store. Instead, Scott goes into the store and speaks with a werewolf accent (pitch-shifted down). His eyes go red, and he starts shaking. It’s corny but pretty effective. As such, Teen Wolf never does this bit again.
On the way to the Big Party, Stiles surfs on top of Scott‘s van. It’s a dumb idea, but I can’t say I’ve never done any ghost riding, so… glasshouses. They make it to the high school party, where the average age is 35, and Scott strikes out with his crush, Pamela. Like, immediately. Her boyfriend Mick from the opening basketball game is at the party. Shouldn’t he live in another town? It’s all okay though, because Scott‘s friend Boof is there to give him a hard time. Meanwhile, Stiles is running party games, like the classic “tie-these-almost-naked-people-up-and-have-them-writhe-in-shaving-cream” or “pour Jell-O down a girl’s shirt and have the heavy guy eat all of it”. Now that I think about it, I might have had it wrong before. I was thinking this was a high school kegger, but it might be a TV-PG swingers party. As part of one of the games, Scott and Boof start making out in a closet. They’re having a pretty good time, until Scott‘s freakin’ WEREWOLF CLAWS pop out and scratch the hell out of her. Boof‘s like “Calm down, Teen Wolf”, and then she slaps him. Anyway, all’s forgiven soon and Scott heads home.
At home, Scott splashes his face with water. He goes through a pretty bad transformation sequence that makes him look like a sweaty Mark Hamill (girl SAME), then eventually he becomes a WEREWOLF. A Teen Wolf, as it were. His dad’s on the other side of the bathroom door and he’s like “LET ME IN,” but Scott‘s like “No? I like to be alone in here? I believe that’s a reasonable request.” But his dad’s like OPEN THE DOOR so Scott has to be like FINE and he opens the door but now his dad is a werewolf too?!?!? Scott‘s dad says something to the effect of “you probably have some questions about this” and we fade out on the full moon. This is important because werewolves come out under the full moon. Except most of Scott‘s changes up to this point (and afterward) happen during the day, so I guess that bit of lore doesn’t really apply to this movie.
The next day, Stiles has a t-shirt that says WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT DICKNOSE and he’s looking for drugs in a shed. Scott says he needs to talk to him about something, and Stiles says something crazy homophobic in that extremely casual way that comes up in 80s movies. To prove he’s not gay, Scott turns into a werewolf, and I promise you that is an actual thing that happens in this movie. Stiles is impressed with the changes, which is pretty much the best reaction you can get from a lycanthropic transformation. Meanwhile, Boof is playing basketball with Scott‘s dad. Based on context, it seems like she really did come over to play basketball with the old guy, which is kinda sweet. Scott walks her home (they’re neighbors, I think) and she says, “Scott, if there’s ever anything you need to talk about, you can talk to me. Anything at all. No topic is off limits. I will listen to literally any problem you have.” And Scott‘s like, “No.”
“Scott wolfs out during the next basketball game and does a huge Slam Dunk! From here on out, everything is very dumb and very rad.”
Scott wolfs out during the next basketball game and does a huge Slam Dunk! From here on out, everything is very dumb and very rad. Once your werewolf dunks the ball, you don’t start pondering the nature of life with poor Yorrick‘s skull. At this point, the worst song in the entire world plays over a basketball montage. Seriously, click that link. No matter what you’re imagining, I guarantee this is worse. Anyway, the song eventually fades out and the fans (there are easily three times as many as there were at the start of the game) take Scott out for pizza and a beer that he bites holes into. It’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.
Oh no, the song’s back! This time, the montage that it underscores is of Scott being sunglasses-inside cool and popular. Everyone loves the Teen Wolf! Everyone that is, except Principal Dick, the dick who runs the school. The song stops as he tells Scott that just because he’s a slam-dunking shapeshifter, that doesn’t make him special. Maybe this is because I’m a product of the feel-good 90s, but it seems like the bar for special was wildly different in the 80s.
Oh no, the song’s back AGAIN! The montage in this instance is more basketball. The whole town has full moon fever. Before long, Stiles is selling out of the Teen Wolf t-shirts he made and Scott is making a special appearance in the school play with his crush, Pamela. He meets with her in the dressing room. She’s like “hey, we’re all family in The Theatre, so it’s okay if you wanna smash.” Which is pretty taboo in my opinion, but then she’s like “if you wanna smash you have to turn into a dog first.” Which is, by my math, way more taboo.
Scott and Pamela go on a date that ends with him asking her to be his date to The Big Spring Dance. Coincidentally, this is why we’re covering Teen Wolf for Enchantment Under The Sea Dance Month: because there’s a climactic scene at the prom. It actually had nothing to do with Michael J. Fox starring in Back to the Future, just a fun coincidence. Anyway, Pamela says no because she’s still dating her forty-year-old boyfriend, Mick.
Stiles trades in his car for a van that has the name of the movie painted on the side. Scott takes a turn car surfing, but he plays air guitar and does a bunch of flips. UPDATE: this is now the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. It also summarizes Teen Wolf as a whole: it’s stupid, rad, rock’n’roll (but not really), and generally meaningless. It’s incredible. Once Scott gets home, his dad explains that Principal Dick is such a dick because when they were younger, Scott‘s dad literally scared the piss out of him. It’s supposed to be a very serious moment, but it still comes off as funny.
Since he got shot down by his Number One, Scott turns to sure-thing Boof and asks her if she’ll be his date to the Big Spring Dance, and she agrees on one condition: that he doesn’t show up as a werewolf. Scott says no, then asks if she’ll still dance with him if he’s a werewolf, and she says yes. Her convictions weren’t that strong.
Werewolf Scott shows up to the Big Spring Dance in a white tux, which is a look that regular Scott can’t really pull off. They never actually call it a prom, but you wouldn’t wear a tuxedo to a non-prom high school dance. At the prom, Scott asks Pamela to dance, but Mick‘s there! Doesn’t he go to another school? And isn’t he like twice the age of everyone else there? Then the DJ plays a song that either was written for Teen Wolf or really, really didn’t make sense in the studio. Everyone does a semi-synchronized dance about being a Big Bad Wolf. This DJ has been holding onto this record for years, and when Scott walked in the door, he said, “oh hell yes.”
Boof starts making out with Scott until he stops being a werewolf, which is the exact opposite of how it worked earlier in the dressing room. And the closet at the party. Hmm, I’m starting to think that the script for Teen Wolf isn’t as airtight as I thought. Now that Scott‘s just a regular short dude again, Mick feels safe decking him. Scott comes out swinging and rips the hell outta Mick‘s shirt. The crowd turns on Scott, and he runs out of the dance pissed off. Principal Dick follows him and he’s like, “oh, you’re a dangerous and out of control monster? I’m gonna get in your face and push your buttons, because I’m an idiot.” Luckily, Scott‘s dad shows up to make Principal Dick piss himself again, effectively unlearning the lesson we learned earlier about how it’s not nice to be a werewolf and make this one specific guy piss himself.
A distraught Scott thinks that now might be a good time to quit the basketball team, literally the last day of basketball. This championship game is against the same team as before, the one with Mick. Things are looking dire for the team. Without Scott, they’re just a bunch of normal guys. Scott shows up late, and everyone in the stands is chanting “WOLF, WOLF, WOLF,” but Scott really doesn’t wanna. He tells the team that they don’t need the wolf to win, but their starting lineup has a kid named Chubby on it so you tell me.
“[…] it’s stupid, rad, rock’n’roll (but not really), and generally meaningless. It’s incredible.”
What happens next? Will Mick‘s unchecked aggression get him ejected from the game? Will Scott hit the final free throw to win the championship? What will become of Scott and Boof? Does an unnamed extra hang dong right before the credits roll? Learn the answer to many of these questions by watching Teen Wolf! And if you think my hypothetical questions about the last five minutes of this movie have spoiled the whole thing, take my word for it: you were gonna guess almost all of those things already.
What did you think of this Teen Wolf? Let us know over on Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and the Horror Fiends of Nightmare on Film Street Facebook page. For more reviews, recommendations, and semi-choreographed dance sequences, stay tuned to Nightmare on Film Street. To hear the worst song ever recorded again, click here! If you’ve made it this far, congratulations. There weren’t even 2000 words about Teen Wolf in the script for Teen Wolf.