September 9, 2015 Ginger Snaps Still Has Bite 15 Years Later
With Autumn right around the corner, the time is perfect to reminisce with a 2000 Halloween Horror film that is adored by so many. It has officially been fifteen years since Director John Fawcett’s (The Dark 2005, Orphan Black TV series) beloved Werewolf movie, Ginger Snaps, debuted at the 2000 Toronto Film Festival, engaging audiences with its fun and quirky, yet multi-layered, story. Along with Fawcett, Karen Walton (The Many Trials of One Jane Doe 2002, Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed 2004) wrote the screenplay, while Karen Lee Hall (Fire 1966, How to be Indie 2009) and Steve Hoban (Nothing 2003, Splice 2009) produced the film. The two people who brought the bite to this cult classic are leading ladies Katharine Isabelle (Freddy Vs Jason 2003, American Mary 2012) and Emily Perkins (IT 1990, In Cold Blood 1996), who play the death obsessed Fitzgerald sisters. Both Isabelle and Perkins have made a great career within the Horror genre, as well as playing in several other projects together, including the two Ginger Snaps sequels, Insomnia (2002), the Da Vinci’s Inquest and Supernatural TV series, as well as Another Cinderella Story (2008), where they play sisters once again. Also starring in Ginger Snaps are Kris Lemche (My Little Eye 2002, Final Destination 3 2006), Mimi Rogers (Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery 1997, Lost in Space 1998), Jesse Moss (Final Destination 2006, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil 2010), and Danielle Hampton (Paradise Falls 2001, Detention 2003).
The production of Ginger Snaps had a rough beginning due to the controversy of releasing a teen Slasher movie after some real life tragedies that were happening at the same time. In 1999, both the Colorado’s Columbine High School and Alberta, Canada’s W. R. Myers High School shootings occurred, which had everyone in a state of fear and holding their loved ones tight. This resulted in several financiers and distributors to pull their funding and even question why the movie should be made at all. Ginger Snaps was a film highlighting teen death. Who needed fake Horror when real life horror was at their doorstep? Time passed, and after much negotiating and switching of filming companies, Fawcett and Hall were finally able to distribute the film through Lions Gate Films in the US and Telefilm in Canada with an estimated budget of just under approximately $5 million.
Once in theaters, Ginger Snaps made $23.3 million dollars at the box office and gained popularity in the UK as well as in The States. The International Horror Guild named it the best film of 2001 over The Devil’s Backbone, Jeepers Creepers, The Others, and Brotherhood of the Wolf. Málaga International Week of Fantastic Cinema gave Ginger Snaps a trilogy of awards – Best Film, Best Special Effects, and Best Actress for Emily Perkins, while the Toronto International Film Festival gave it a Special Jury Citation. In 2002, Ginger Snaps won the first Saturn Award for best DVD release, distributed through Unapix Entertainment, from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films.
The soundtrack, released through Roadrunner Records, features a mix tape of some of the most notorious Heavy Metal bands of the time, including Hatebread, Cradle of Filth, Soulfly, Godhead, Saliva, and Machine Head. The film’s DVD sales were quite successful, resulting in the production of two other films: Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed (2004) and Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning (2004), which were filmed back to back with both Isabelle and Perkins reprising their roles as the Fitzgerald sisters. The second entry to the series was directed by Brett Sullivan (Saw IV 2007, Orphan Black TV series) and also starred Brendan Fletcher (Freddy vs. Jason 2003, Rampage 2009) and Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black TV series, The Vow 2012), while the third movie and prequel was directed by Grant Harvey (Heartland 2007, A Christmas Horror Story 2015) and starred JR Bourne (Thir13en Ghosts 2001, The Exorcism of Emily Rose 2005) and Nathaniel Arcand (Pathfinder 2007, Heartland TV series).
One of the fun and unique things about Ginger Snaps is the comparison of lycanthropy to puberty/womanhood. It symbolizes what women go through during certain times of the month, and even though they are beautiful, they can become monstrous creatures. In high school, teens often feel out of control of their raging hormones and their gangly, bulging bodies, as if they have turned into an uncontrollable, hideous beast. This film takes a different approach on what Michael J. Fox went through in Teen Wolf (1985) by leaning more heavily on the Horror element and telling it from a girl’s point of view. Instead of worrying about what people are going to think about the excess hair they have grown overnight, these girls wonder what – or who – their next meal would be. Gorgeous, but watch out when they are hungry.
The film takes place in the seemingly peaceful town of Bailey Downs where neighborhood dogs are mysteriously being killed. The local Fitzgerald sisters, Ginger (Isabelle) and Brigitte (Perkins), have a morbid obsession with death and do things like take pictures of their own staged deaths. Their awkwardness makes them outcasts in town, but they have a strong bond with each other, even making a pact to commit suicide together. Brigitte looks up to her sister and feels most comfortable around her because she understands what it feels like to be misunderstood. That is, until one night where everything changes. After a bad day of bullying by high school girl Trina (Hampton), the girls decide to kidnap her dog. But on the way, Ginger starts her period, and the smell of blood attracts the beast that had been killing the dogs. The beast – a Werewolf – attacks Ginger and drags her into the woods, but Brigitte runs after her and they manage to escape just as Sam (Lemche) runs his truck into the Werewolf, killing it.
Unfortunately it is too late. Soon, Ginger begins experiencing lycanthropy symptoms. Her severe wounds heal quickly, she develops more hair, her aggression intensifies, and her periods become extremely heavy. Brigitte assumes that Ginger is turning into a Werewolf, but her sister just laughs it off. Sam gives Brigitte his theory on lycanthropy, confirming what Brigitte already assumed, and the two work together to figure a cure. Meanwhile, Ginger seduces Jason (Moss), and, by having unprotected sex, transmits the curse to him as well. She transforms more into a Werewolf every day, becoming a deadly weapon against anyone who crosses her path. Brigitte is on a deadline to find a cure before the next full moon on Halloween – before the transition is complete and she loses her sister forever.
Rotten tomatoes gave Ginger Snaps a score of 89% fresh rating, proving that this film is still a favorite, despite fifteen years passing. The setting, characters, and unique storyline creates an awesome Werewolf film unlike any other, perfect for any time of year, but is even more special with Halloween just around the corner. So grab a cup of hot cocoa, listen to the swirling, colorful leaves just outside the window, and sink sharp teeth into this fun film.