Back in 2001 (wow, has it really been that long?) John Fawcett had an interesting recipe. He mixed together equal parts Universal’s The Wolf Man and teen angst comedy, added a sprinkling of talented actors (most notably then up-and-coming starlet Katherine Isabelle) and excellent practical FX work, and topped it off with generous servings of grue and viscera. The result was Ginger Snaps, one of the most pleasant surprises of the new millennium, as well as one of the best pure werewolf flicks since John Landis’ turned the genre on its furry pointed ear in 1981.
While the Canadian production received little to no distribution outside of the great white north, it built up a cult following thanks to the home video market, spawning a mini-franchise with 2003’s Ginger Snaps: Unleashed, and the surprisingly good tongue-in-cheek prequel Ginger Snaps Back in 2004. Still, it’s the original film that fans hold near and dear, but, while scores of lesser films have made the jump to glorious HD, Ginger Snaps seemed destined to languish on sub-standard definition forever.
That is, until Scream Factory came along!
Ginger (Isabelle) and her younger sister Bridgett (Emily Perkins) is each other's own best friend. The duo is considered "weirdos" to their classmates, but, like all good outcasts, they don't really care much for them either. The sisters would rather stage their own deaths and photograph them for a school project (the film's fantastic opening segment) than be like the dreadfully boring normal people they seemingly avoid contact with. When Ginger and Bridgett are attacked by an animal that has been killing dogs in their neighborhood, Ginger is badly injured. However, Ginger's wounds seemingly disappear overnight. When the older sibling begins to show signs of change that coincide with her first period (Mom explains they're late bloomers) Bridgett begins to suspect that the animal that attacked them has something to do with it. Ginger begins to dress more revealingly, hang out with the boys, and blows off her little sister. While all of this seems like a perfectly normal case of growing up, Ginger soon realizes that she is becoming MORE than a woman (which is helped by the fact that she sprouts a tale). While Ginger is at first terrified by what she is becoming, it's not long before she starts to actually enjoy it, and it's up to Bridgett and local drug dealer, Sam (Kris Lemche), to change her back.
In the post-Scream late-nineties/early-noughties, horror films were expected to possess a certain degree of self-awareness and self-effacing humor, as well as sort of sexy youthful panache to lure in a new generation of viewers brought up on unhealthy doses of irony and pop culture reference-heavy humor. What I’ve always loved about Fawcett’s film is the way it deftly balances the (then) requisite amount of self-awareness with the same sense of wonder and mystery that is a hallmark of great werewolf films. Ginger Snaps is a really fun flick with excellent production values and performances, especially from the two leads, Perkins and Isabelle, with the latter especially effective as the titular character straddling the line between uber-hottie and outcast. It’s no surprise that her star has risen since, and it’s especially pleasing to currently see the sultry actress in such high profile projects as the excellent American Mary and NBC’s brilliant Hannibal series.
Previously available on a barebones DVD from Artisan Entertainment as well as a truly excellent Canadian import from Columbia Pictures, Scream Factory welcomes Ginger Snaps to Blu-ray as a part of its Collector’s Edition series.
Ginger Snaps is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 (already an improvement over Artisan’s full-frame transfer), and boasts a crisp, mostly clean image that occasionally exhibits a spot of print damage here and there, but is otherwise in terrific shape. The film’s color palette is reliant on warm earth tones, so there’s a lot of hot reds and amber hues, but the transfer handles it well. Detail’s mainly evident in close-ups, especially facial features and clothing textures, but it’s not as sharp or sumptuously detailed as many of Scream Factory’s better offerings. Still, this is easily Ginger Snaps looking the best it has on any home medium, and the rocking 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio track seals the deal with robust bass and a spacious and immersive mix.
In addition to a collection of all-new interviews with various cast and crew members (including an almost unrecognizable Perkins who…well…looks absolutely AMAZING), and a Woman in Horror Panel discussion (both in HD), we’re also given the bulk of the bonus features from the aforementioned Columbia DVD release, including a pair of commentary tracks, a very in-depth making of featurette, and a hearty collection of shorter behind-the-scenes bits covering everything from creature FX to casting. Rounding out the bonuses are trailers, TV spots, a stills gallery, and Scream’s trademark reversible cover art. Also included is a DVD version of the film.
Ginger Snaps is one of my top ten horror films of the noughties and, in my opinion, one of the best werewolf films of all time. It’s an original twist on the genre that's loaded with laughs, heart, scares, and gore aplenty, and Scream Factory’s Blu-ray presentation gives it the royal treatment this cult-favorite has always deserved. Highest recommendations!