I have a new favourite film blogger (and movie buddy); it’s Jillian of The Pink Panther Snipes Again.
Jillian reviews films on her blog that could be considered a little bit off the beaten track. It’s not like they are all obscure though, Sabrina Goes to Rome and Sabrina Down Under were quite popular TV movies back in the late nineties, though I had forgotten about both of them until Jillian reviewed them in her inimitable style.
It was when she reviewed Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same that I knew this was a girl after my own heart (before, actually but what? I’m playing it cool here). A bit of back and forth by email culminated in us arranging a virtual movie date and this is it. Welcome to our virtual movie date!
Since Jillian and I live on opposite sides of the world, we have been forced to watch the same film at different times, rather than share a tub of popcorn on the same couch. We’re aiming to post our reviews on the same day (today).
I think this is such a fun idea and it was all Jillian’s. I know we have to see how the first date goes but if it works and we both have a good time, I hope we’ll do this again. J, I’ve sort of based the structure of this post on yours as a tribute and… next movie choice is yours.
NB: Beware of spoilers. If you haven’t seen this film yet but intend to, you might want to look away now.
Ginger Snaps (2000)
After shortlisting a few gems on Netflix (both the US/UK versions), we decided on this one. I’ve seen it before and am a big fan, while this will be the first time for Jillian (who had to source a copy as, surprisingly, US Netflix doesn’t have it). UPDATE: She has seen it before, I lied. My bad.
Where to Watch:
The Fitzgerald Sisters are obsessed with death and suicide, and in keeping with this theme, have made a pact to each other to get ‘out by sixteen or dead on the scene’ (which I think means killed themselves). Unfortunately, the sisters’ bond is tested when Ginger is bitten by a werewolf.
The (Very) Uncondensed Version*:
*This sh@@ is looooong
Ginger Snaps opens with a fairly innocuous establishing shot of a normal overcast day in suburbia. A mother is raking leaves in the yard while her young son plays in the sand pit. The kid appears to have blood on his face but as he has his back to his mother, she doesn’t notice straight away. Oh but we do, we dooooooo!
As she approaches to check on him, she notices the dismembered dog’s paw in his hand. She reacts in exactly the way you would imagine, screaming hysterically. Cut to a close up of their dog’s kennel, which is covered in elaborate blood splashes and claw marks, a twisted mass of entrails decorating the entrance like ribbon.
Terrified, the mother runs with child into the street and screams to a group of playing children; “It got our dog!”. They stop for a split second and gaze at her dispassionately, before returning to their game. For yes, this is a horror comedy and the comedy is pitch black.
Next we meet the sisters. First up Brigitte Fitzgerald, who enters their shared bedroom from outside, where she’s just witnessed the dead dog scene. She announces to her older sister, Ginger that “Baxter’s fertiliser”. She seems neither worried nor surprised, which suggests (and is later backed up) that this is not the first dog in the neighbourhood to meet a grisly end.
Ginger is holding a knife, practicing cutting her own wrists, though it’s not long before she proclaims that “Wrists are for girls. I’m slitting my throat”. She suggests that B hang herself. Brigitte is worried that suicide may be a little cliché but Ginger reassures her that it is the “The ultimate fuck you” and so them. She reminds B of the pact they made when they were eight: to kill themselves and remain ‘together forever’ by sixteen. N’aw so sweet.
Cue the suicide montage in which we see the sisters in various ‘dead’ positions: impaled on a white picket fence, squished beneath the wheels of a car, dead in a freezer, pinned to the soil by a pitchfork through the throat and more. The girls are nothing if not imaginative.
I’ve realised that if I work my way through every scene so thoroughly, we’ll be here for months so, now I’ve set the scene, I will be sparing with the deets. You’re welcome.
The girls present their video montage as part of a school project which ‘sickens’ their teacher. Their classmates don’t mind so much and the boys are starting to notice Ginger, which becomes apparent in this scene. Ginger is an edgy redhead who is starting to come into her own as a woman, while Brigitte is the dowdy one, swathing herself in layers of unflattering clothing. Ginger is the more conventional hottie basically.
That day, Ginger and B have an altercation with Head Mean Girl, Trina on the playing field. As revenge, the girls plan to kidnap Trina’s beloved dog and fake his death. On the way to dog-nap the mutt, the Fitzgerald’s stumble across another dead dog in the park and figure it will save them time and effort if they pretend it’s Trina’s dog.
As they gather up the limbs and entrails (love that word), B notices that Ginger has blood running down her thigh. “You’ve got some on you”. Ginger is unimpressed about finally having “The Curse” (both girls are ‘late bloomers’) but she doesn’t have much time to worry about it as she is attacked by a snarling beast, who snatches her and drags her into the woods.
We glimpse the beast during this frenzied attack and he’s all teeth, knobbly spine and ribs. As B fights the beast off Ginger, she startles him by snapping her Polaroid camera in his face. The girls manage to get away and the beast is hit by a vehicle as they rush across the road.
Once home, the girls are surprised to discover that Ginger’s fresh wounds are already healing. As she falls asleep, B manages to retrieve the snapshot taken during the attack. The image on the Polaroid is distinctly wolf-like.
After the attack, Ginger begins to change, in more ways that one. As well as being all sassy, smoking weed and getting off with boys (well, one boy); she is also getting hairier by the minute and growing a tail.
B makes friends with the local drug dealer, Sam who also happens to be the driver who hit the beast with his van that night. The two discuss their theory that the beast may have been a werewolf. B keeps it to herself that she thinks that her sister is turning one too.
Ginger meanwhile, loses her virginity to one of the jocks, and kills the neighbour’s dog to cure her ‘hunger’. Sam and Brigitte discuss lots of different ways to cure the ‘infection’, and he gives her a silver ring while she later uses to pierce Ginger’s bellybutton. It doesn’t purify her blood as she’d hoped. B has told Sam that it’s her that got bitten.
Trina gets mad when she sees Sam talking to B ‘cos she fancies him. In a rage, she attacks B again and this time Ginger intervenes, punching her several times in the face.
That night Trina comes to the girls’ home and asked them to give her dog back. B knows nothing about it but Trina swears that Ginger has taken him. Ginger attacks Trina, dragging her into the kitchen, much to B’s horror.
In the furore, Trina is accidentally killed. Later, the girls bury Trina’s body, which has been stored in the freezer chest out back. While trying to chip her out of the chest, B chops off two of her fingers by mistake, which she unwittingly drops before placing Trina in the ground. The girls plan to let the drama surrounding Trina’s disappearance die down before running away together.
B conveniently finds some rare Monkhood (in her own home, obvs!), which is a vital ingredient that may cure the werewolf infection, and takes it to Sam. He tells B that she should prepare herself for it not to work, since they don’t know exactly what it will do. He tells her that he knows it’s Ginger who is infected and not Brigitte.
While B is with Sam, Ginger goes back to school. She gets caught flashing Jason’s friends and the guidance counselor sends her to his office. By time B gets there, having been summoned on the tannoy, Ginger has killed him. Her first intentional (human) kill.
Ginger tells Brigitte that she doesn’t want to go back to being a ‘nobody’. She is visibly becoming more Lycan before our eyes. Next Ginger kills the school janitor. She tells B it’s because “I don’t like the way he looks at you”. B accuses Ginger of enjoying herself. Ginger likens killing to masturbation (!!!)
She then asks B to be in a pack of two and reminds her that they had agreed to stay together forever. B is not into this idea and Ginger goes mad then runs off.
Their parents find the missing fingers in their back garden, and the girl’s mother pretends that the fingers are props from their death games. She doubts herself though and goes looking for a body, finding Trina in her shallow (and obviously not that well hidden) grave.
Ginger goes to a Halloween party (duh) at the Greenhouse (where Sam lives). Once there she tries to get off with Sam. He says no thanks. Meanwhile, the girls’ mum picks up Brigitte as she is making her way to the party herself and they drive there together.
Mum tells B that they have done a terrible thing but she has plan and “won’t let them take my babies”.
B finds Ginger. Ginger is furious and screams that she doesn’t even know Brigitte anymore. B cuts herself, then Ginger, clasping their hands together so their blood intermingles. She tells her, “Now I am you”. She persuades her to come home, where she has the ingredients for the antidote (although Ginger doesn’t know), which she will use to cure them both.
Sam misunderstands and knocks Ginger out. B explains the plan and they put her in the back of Sam’s van. On the way to the house, B’s health deteriorates as she is starting to turn herself.
When they get to the house, Ginger (in full werewolf-mode, for she has changed in the back of the van) gets loose and into the house. Sam and Brigitte cook up the antidote and Sam convinces B to let him inject Ginger. Just as they’ve agreed, Ginger attacks Sam and drags him into the basement.
B, syringe in hand, heads downstairs but is disorientated. At the end of the corridor she finds Sam, but Ginger the beast is standing over him. Sam is still alive so B crawls closer and drinks some of his blood to convince Ginger that she has turned too. It works until she pukes. She screams at Ginger that she can’t and won’t do it. Ginger kills Sam.
B runs away and Ginger chases her. They meet together in their childhood bedroom and B tells Ginger she will not die with her in that room. B stabs Ginger in the stomach and she falls to the floor. Brigitte crawls over to Ginger and holds her as she dies.
Fin. Fade to black.
Well, I loved this film ten years ago and I thought some of its charm may have rubbed off in the time that has passed since my last viewing of it. As with most nostalgic things, when I look back at them I usually expect to mock them. I didn’t feel like that with Ginger Snaps.
I think this is a pretty solid horror movie. Obviously it’s a low-budget independent without all the bells and whistles of the identikit horrors of today and I think that’s the beauty of it. The acting isn’t horrible, although Emily Perkins‘ Brigitte is a little heavy-handed to begin with. Some of the secondary characters as well.
The premise is pretty standard but the fact that Ginger dealing with her new identity coincides with her newly blossomed femininity, I think it’s doubly effective. It’s a coming of age werewolf flick and it’s also pretty snappy (pun intended) in the dialogue stakes. Of course it’s dripping with teenage sarcasm and I can only wish I had been so good with the comebacks at 15.
The effects are okay too I feel when you consider the film had a budget of just $5m. The transformation into beast is no An American Werewolf in London but it tries. There’s a lot of gore and it’s better than some I’ve seen in more recent films.
In short, I still love it and I’m tempted to re watch the sequel, Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed tomorrow (Did Brigitte take the antidote in the end, or what?).
I haven’t got any Pink Panthers to illustrate my rating, so I’ve sourced the next best thing:
4 over friendly werewolves out of 5
I’m very interested to see what Jillian thinks. Head over and see for yourself soon!