1985 in Film – Teen Wolf

Release Date: August 23rd
Box Office: $33,086,611

Without Back to The Future would we have remembered this film? Would it have been filed as a weird film made by that guy from that sitcom about neckwear or something?

Its not that much of a knock on the film to suggest this. When Teen Wolf was released it was in the box office at number 2 behind BTTF, earning a decent amount of money along the way. And that word best sums it up really: decent. Decent cast, decent story, decent effects. But without being released in the after glow of the monster success that was BTTF I doubt it would be half as popular as it was now. It would probably get racked alongside the truly forgotten of the 80s cinema, like The Dirt Bike Kid or Biggles The Movie.

No, easily the best thing that came out of this film was its cartoon.

See, one of the big things of the 80s was the Saturday morning cartoon. This being just before having dedicated kids TV channels became the norm, that block of shows was incredibly important. From that you could generate a huge franchise (and therefore profits) like The Transformers or He-Man, which would lead to merchandising the hell out of it until the thing was bled dry.

Hence why you’d get people creating stuff from scratch all the time hoping to find the next cash cow. Also hence why you’d get people occasionally trying to crowbar the most inappropriate franchises.

Like the R rated violence heavy Rambo series which was re-done as a cartoon with Rambo himself leading a team called The Force of Freedom in a show were no one was ever killed. Rambo. Not killing anyone.

Or how about RoboCop? Oh, sure, Robot Cop fights bad guys is a dream scenario for a kids action cartoon but without the hard edged satire of the original film it ends up just being a bit dull.

The fact that Teen Wolf had a show is just as mystifying. I guess kids like werewolves? And teen angst? Luckily though, the show ended up being pretty good.

This was achieved by re-jigging a lot of what was laid out during the original film: the main character is still Scott only now his wolf identity is made a secret again; he now has a larger family made of grandparents and a younger sister rather than just his Dad; the town is re-named from Beverton to Wolverton, it’s now a place that pushes its werewolf history as a tourist trap.

They aren’t huge differences but it’s enough to make sure of a farce style plot each week with Scott trying to hide his curse as best he can. The bigger family also help mainly for comic relief; the grandparents seem like they’re just off the boat from Eastern Europe and spend most of their time in their werewolf form. The younger sister still has to come into her powers so goes around wearing a wolf mask and gloves ready to embrace her life while Scott rejects it at every turn.

If you want to get wanky about it, most of the stories are based around accepting ones disability, although in this case it’s a disability based around a full moon.

So it all ends up with making the film Teen Wolf even more of the 80s time capsule than it already is. Of course it has that soundtrack, of course it stars that person, of course it had a cartoon.

Because that was the 80s and that was how things were done.

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