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The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

Student news without fear or favor

Back to the 80s: ‘Teen Wolf’

A wolfie good film and a howl of a time
%E2%80%9CTeen+Wolf%E2%80%9D+is+a+horror+comedy+based+on+the+concept+of+a+teenage+boy+struggling+to+fit+in+while+going+through+the+horrors+of+transitioning+into+a+hairy+and+sharp-nailed+werewolf.+This+film+stars+Michael+J.+Fox%2C+in+a+true+to+80s+standard+cult+classic+with+a+beyond+goofy+plot.++%28Photo+courtesy+of+Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer+and+Atlantic+Entertainment%2C+Graphic+created+in+Canva+by+Alyssa+Branum%29
Alyssa Branum
“Teen Wolf” is a horror comedy based on the concept of a teenage boy struggling to fit in while going through the horrors of transitioning into a hairy and sharp-nailed werewolf. This film stars Michael J. Fox, in a true to 80s standard cult classic with a beyond goofy plot. (Photo courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Atlantic Entertainment, Graphic created in Canva by Alyssa Branum)

The horror genre is one where vampires, werewolves, ghosts and alien-like themes are free to explore, but classifying the 1985 film “Teen Wolf” as horror may be a bit of a stretch.

Famous actor known for his starring role in the “Back to the Future” series, Michael J. Fox, plays the lead wolf, Scott Howard. Scott is a young teenage boy who, while going through the awkward stages of puberty, begins to grow sharp pointed nails and hair in unexplainable places and at brisk rates.

By day he is ordinary, bad at basketball and easily forgotten Scott, but by night, a young werewolf.

While this film strays from the traditional horror cliches of menacing supernatural beings and dark themes, it does have a unique 80s portrayal on the life of what a teenage werewolf’s life would be. Scott is characterized to enjoy werewolfism and stray from tradition when surfing on van roofs and handing out merch of his face.

Rather than having the young werewolf run in terror and hide in fear for who he is and what he can do, the film portrays Scott as someone to relish and enjoy the glory of being a wolf. A concept that many modern werewolf films like “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” and TV series “Teen Wolf” do not portray.

Movies that follow the struggles of the supernatural often highlight the dark sides of their characters and represent transformations as a bad and difficult thing. Director Rod Daniel broke free from this constraint, by highlighting Scott’s transition to popularity and fame.

RELATED: Back to the 80s: ‘Weird Science’

The film begins with Scott scared out of his mind by the freakish changes taking place within his body. But as he grows more confident in what has happened and learns the truth of his family genetics, he begins to grow more secure in his new identity.

Scott Howard (Michael J. Fox) in the bathroom as he transforms for the first time into a werewolf. Scott comes from a long line of werewolves and along with the struggles of puberty also grapples with werewolf-ism too. (Photo courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Atlantic Entertainment)


What truly changes things and makes this film so outlandish from the traditional werewolf films is that during a heated basketball game not being able to control himself Scott changes into a werewolf right in front of the entire school.

Instead of everyone fearing for their lives and running out of the gymnasium screaming bloody murder they all cheer for the hairy beast as he continues to play the game and take the team to the basketball championships.

Unfortunately, the special effects makeup on Fox is extremely outdated and even a little cringe by today’s standards. This rendition of what werewolves look like is one that many films don’t explore. Films often featuring werewolves have characters transforming into full-blown four-legged dogs, rather than walking humans with long hair and beards like this one does. The make-up is one of the telltale signs that truly shows the age of this film.

A modern rendition of this film is the 2011 MTV TV series “Teen Wolf” which aside from similar character names and both starring heartthrobs of their own time, are completely different.

The TV show is a lot more supernatural-themed, with secret werewolf identities and drama in every episode. The 1985 film is completely opposite with goofy prosthetic makeup and bad special effects that totally play into the niche of what makes this an 80s cult classic.

The TV series and the film do share one thing in common though and that is the portrayal of the hilarious character Stiles Stilinski. The actors Jerry Levine and Dylan O’Brien play the eccentric character to their own respected portrayals.

In the 1985 film, Levine portrays Stiles as a crazy party-loving and supportive best friend who provides most of the comedic relief for the show. Especially, in the unforgettable scene where he puts on his floral button-up shirt and climbs on top of the van to surf through traffic. A totally reckless iconic 80s moment that to this day still provides nostalgia to the decade.

This film speaks to the overplayed and always-explored theme of kids wanting to fit in and be cool. Scott as a human is easily overlooked but when the school discovers how cool he can be, they flock to his side. Scott rises to fame and becomes not only the most popular dog at school but kid too.

Pamela Wells (Lorie Griffin) and Scott Howard (Michael J. Fox) at a party where Scott uses his werewolf skills to impress the crowd. Thanks to his werewolf genes and skills overnight, Scott goes from zero to hero. (Photo courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Atlantic Entertainment)


The theme of supernatural beings becoming popular in 2024 is one that isn’t as popular or as explored as it had once been. It’s a genre that has so much potential and engagement that many film directors fear to explore and deserves a scary comeback.

Although “Teen Wolf” is not considered a traditional portrayal of the werewolf films that are often seen today, it is still an 80s cult classic thanks to Fox’s dedication and acting to make this film a wolfie good time of barking laughter and jokes.

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Katelyn Marano, Copy Editor
(she/her) Katelyn Marano is a graduating senior with a major in journalism and a minor in English. She is currently in her second semester here at The State Hornet and is the copy editor for the spring 2024 semester. Katelyn enjoys reading and writing, and hope to take her degree into book publishing.
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