Ginger Snaps is one of the few modern success stories of the werewolf film but you’d never guess it from the treatment it has received on home video in the U.S. Original home video distributor Artisan dumped it out on DVD in the early 2000’s with a pan and scan transfer that left a lot to be desired, leaving most fans to turn to the better Canadian disc for the film. Thankfully, U.S. fans just received a new and improved special edition from Scream Factory that does well by this cult favorite in both image quality and extras.
Things start handsomely with a high-def transfer, a first for American home video when it comes to this title. The image looks suitably crisp in its details, accurately reflecting its muted color palette and avoiding excessive grain. Both 2.0 and 5.1 stereo options are offered for this transfer, presented in lossless form on the blu-ray. The 5.1 blu-ray option was used for this review and it offers a subtle but effectively mixed blend of sounds that spread out the effects and musical score at the right moments.
Scream Factory has also included a barrage of extras that mix vintage items from the film’s Canadian home video release along with some new items created for this edition. Two commentary tracks are carried over from older editions, with the first featuring director John Fawcett. He hits the ground running, with plentiful scene-specific details and a lot of praise for his collaborators, particularly screenwriter Karen Walton. He talks a lot about trying to create heroines that were genuinely individualistic rather than identifiable types and offers plentiful details on both the effects and the hectic schedule. He also points out some neat trivia, like how one scene was completely looped and how Lucy Lawless did all the P.A. announcements you hear in the film.
The other commentary track is devoted to screenwriter Karen Walton, who kicks things off on an irreverent note by noting she did not want to write the film originally but was talked into doing it as a way of subverting the elements of the genre she did not enjoy. The track quickly settles into a detailed analysis of the motivations behind each scene and how they were designed to develop the lead characters. She credits the film’s story editor as being her “coach” and helping her work out the film’s metaphors. She also points out the many places she sought to redefine genre rules in a feminist way. In short, this track is an excellent listen for any aspiring genre screenwriters and will be particularly useful for women interested in writing their own horror fare.
Next up are a pair of featurettes made especially for this set. The first is titled “Ginger Snaps: Blood, Teeth & Fire.” It runs an impressive 66 minutes and incorporates input from Fawcett and Walton, cast members Emily Perkins and Jesse Moss and a variety of key crew members, including producer Steven Hoban and FX designer Paul Jones.
This segment can effectively be broken down into three subsections. The first deals with the genesis of the film, with Fawcett discussing his Cronenbergian aspirations to reinterpret the werewolf myth as a virus while Walton reveals how she brought the sense of female characterization to the piece. Hoban adds some interesting thoughts on how the tragedy of Columbine made the film notorious before it was even shot. The next section deals with the actors, with Perkins revealing how she and Katherine Isabelle had a real bond as friends (and differences) that played a big role in their performances.
The last section deals with production and the film’s release. You’ll learn about the FX challenges, all of which were done practically, and how several changes were made to the third act that reflected the film’s tight budget. The most interesting part of the segment reveals how the film got lost in the shuffle during its initial release but was rescued via a New York repertory theater and frequent screenings on HBO. In short, this piece offers a detailed and genuinely insightful look at one of the more ambitious cult items to emerge from modern horror cinema.
The other featurette is called “Growing Pains: Puberty In Horror Films” and is a sort of a roundtable discussion with four female horror critics and filmmakers – Rebekah McKendry, Heidi Honeycutt, Axelle Carolyn and Kristy Jett – offering their thoughts on the subject of puberty in horror cinema from a female viewpoint. Ginger Snaps is discussed, of course – Honeycutt intriguingly admits she can’t really relate to the film’s characters – but the quartet casts their net wide to discuss films as diverse as Carrie, Jennifer’s Body and Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders.
There is also an interesting discussion of a series of male-directed films built around the fear of the vagina and some praise for Lucky McKee as a female-sympahetic horror filmmaker. Overall, it’s an appropriate inclusion for a brainy film like this and the women in its fanbase are likely to appreciate its presence (it’s interesting viewing for the men in the audience, too).
Fans will be interested in the inclusion of about 25 minutes’ worth of deleted scenes, many of them dialogue snips plus more of the Halloween party featured prominently in the finale. The viewer is also given the option to watch these scenes with two additional commentary tracks, one from Fawcett and the other from Walton. Fawcett primarily focuses on how the scenes were cut for pacing or to focus characterizations while Walton discusses the motivations behind the scenes, lamenting the loss of one moment featuring the guidance counselor.
Along similar lines there is a set of audition and rehearsal videos that focus on Perkins and Isabelle. It’s easy to see their chemistry and strong grasp of their respective roles, even in this early footage. Keep an eye out for an appearance by Jesse Moss and a funny bit where Isabelle fills in for the janitor in one scene(!).
The remainder of the disc’s extras are devoted to vintage promotional materials. A featurette runs about 5 minutes and features Fawcett and his cast pitching the film to prospective viewers: this piece is interesting because it includes Isabelle, who doesn’t appear in the new features on this set. “The Creation Of The Beast” is another five-minute piece that shows the development of the wolf from a sculpture to an articulated puppet. “Being John Fawcett” offers two minutes of the director filming his leading ladies before turning the camera on himself so they can poke fun at him.
Elsewhere, there are two theatrical trailers and two t.v. spots. One theatrical spot plays it as a straight shocker while the other one plays up its sense of dark humor – and the t.v. spots follow the latter’s lead. The last inclusion is a brief gallery of production design art that shows how signage, product logos and even magazine covers were created for the film’s world.
In short, Scream Factory’s special edition of Ginger Snaps is a long overdue treat for the film’s American fans, boasting a good transfer and some worthwhile new supplements. Even the film’s Canadian fans will want to upgrade to this set.
To read Schlockmania’s film review of Ginger Snaps, click here.