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.

GinSnaps-bluScream 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.

GinSnaps-04This 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 GinSnaps-05Valerie 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(!).

GinSnaps-06The 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.