- Monthly Theme: Women on the Verge
- The Film: Ginger Snaps
- Alternate title: n/a
- Country of origin: Canada
- Date of Canadian release: May 11, 2001
- Date of U.S. release: October 23, 2001 (DVD release)
- Studio: Téléfilm Canada, Lions Gate Films & Canadian Television Fund
- Distributer: Unapix Entertainment Productions
- Domestic Gross: $2,500
- Budget: $5 million (estimated)
- Director: John Fawcett
- Producers: Tina Goldlist, Karen Lee Hall, Steve Hoban, Daniel Lyon, Alicia Reilly-Larson & Noah Segal
- Screenwriter: Karen Walton
- Adaptation? No.
- Cinematographer: Thom Best
- Make-Up/FX: Paul Jones & Brock Jolliffe
- Music: Michael Shields
- Part of a series? Yes. The first film in the Ginger Snaps trilogy, followed by 2004’s Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed and Ginger Snaps Back (which was a direct-to-DVD release).
- Remakes? No.
- Genre Icons in the cast? Yes. Modern scream queen Katharine Isabelle (American Mary, TV’s Hannibal, etc.).
- Other notables?: Yes. Hollywood character actress Mimi Rogers.
- Awards?: Best DVD Release at the 2002 Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films. 2002 Canadian Comedy Award for Best Writing. Best Movie at the 2002 International Horror Guild. Special Jury Citation at the 2000 Toronto International Film Festival. 3 awards, including Best Film, at the 2001 Málaga International Week of Fantastic Cinema.
- Tagline: “They don’t call it the curse for nothing.”
- The Lowdown: At the start of the 21st century a little Canadian werewolf movie crept onto and off of screens without much fanfare. In fact, it was practically ignored outside of Canada. But the movie found a new life on DVD and is now considered one of the cult movies of the early 2000s. Ginger Snaps concerns two teenaged sisters, Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) and Brigitte (Emily Perkins), who are extremely close and socially isolated. They spend all their time together making death pacts, directing macabre short films and photography shoots and shunning the “normal” world of teenagers. But when Ginger is attacked and infected by a werewolf, the private, pubescent universe of the sisters is disrupted. Suddenly Ginger gets her period, develops an intense sexual appetite and begins to shun her sister in favor of boys. Brigitte desperately searches for a cure for her sister’s “curse” as Ginger’s acts of violence escalate in a bloody showdown on the night of the school Halloween dance.
If you haven’t seen Ginger Snaps our discussion will include massive SPOILERS.
Sean: I was shocked re-watching this by how much Jennifer’s Body lifted from this movie. I mean, Diablo Cody should basically write this movie a big thank you letter. In fact I’m shocked there’s not a reference to Ginger Snaps in the dialogue of Jennifer’s Body, considering how meta and self-referential Cody’s work tends to be. The whole trope of a friendship/sisterhood between two girls being torn apart because one of them becomes a monster is just… all of that comes straight out of Ginger Snaps.
Kristine: Oh, I agree. I do have to say, I enjoyed Jennifer’s Body a lot more than this film. I’m still trying to decide if that is because I saw Jennifer’s Body first, or because it is more contemporary, or what, but you are so right about the stark similarities between them.
Sean: Yes and it’s not even just the basic premise, but also certain elements in the execution. How both Ginger and Jennifer both become “super-hot” after they become monsters and they both become sexually carnivorous. And the psychological dimensions of their relationships with the sister-figures they’ve left behind – Needy in Jennifer’s Body, Brigitte in Ginger Snaps. I think its important to clarify here, because of the anti-Diablo Cody backlash in the media after Juno’s Oscar win and the cold reception Jennifer’s Body got in the press, that we both loved Jennifer’s Body and think it’s a genuinely good – almost great – movie.
Kristine: Yes. Jennifer’s Body has been, hands down, one of the most enjoyable movie experiences I’ve had in connection with Girl Meets Freak. I see its flaws, but I still loved it. And if anything, the sketchy, quasi-sexist reactions to Diablo Cody in the culture make me love it more because I feel defensive of it. But can I ask: why do you think I loved Jennifer’s Body but only borderline tolerated Ginger Snaps? Is it just because I saw the newer film first?
Sean: No, I can see why you’d feel that way because of all the goth shenanigans in Ginger Snaps. In fact, I think the debate over which film works better cuts right to that heart of the media backlash against Diablo Cody: Jennifer’s Body has ironic distance from the subject matter. It is aware of its own absurdities and engages in a bit of winking at itself. People have decided that they hate that and it makes them mad. People have decided that Cody’s sensibility constitutes post-modern wankery and smarmy intellectual self-satisfaction and entitled hipsterism and all kinds of other bad things. I do feel that the dominant reaction to Cody is an expression of trenchant misogyny, which annoys me just because it makes me feel like a Jezebel blogger or a person who writes outraged emails to Bitch magazine. But there it is. I don’t think Jennifer’s Body’s postmodern excesses and tics are any more pronounced than Scream’s ten years or so earlier. Why wasn’t Kevin Williamson attacked and considered “annoying” and “smug” and “precious” and all the other charges levied against Cody?
Kristine: Well, Williamson had the horror-nerd, patriarchal street cred of Wes Craven at his disposal. Don’t you think that because Scream was directed by Craven, a beloved icon of horror and a total Daddy-figure in the genre, it was received differently? Karyn Kusama, the woman who directed Jennifer’s Body, was more of an unknown quantity and so it was Cody’s reputation that bolstered Jennifer’s Body and shaped how it was marketed and thought about. Also Megan Fox, and the field day of hatred/obsession associated with her celebrity, was a huge factor in the reception of the movie. Scream had a beloved female celebrity as it’s “face” – Drew Barrymore. I mean, the deeper question about why Megan Fox is so threatening and offensive to America and why Drew Barrymore is not would be fascinating to talk through, but so much of it has to do with the context, the time period, etc. But it is interesting that Barrymore had all ready gone through the wringer of tabloid infamy and cultural judgement, and had persisted and “proved herself.” She convinced America that she was really a good girl underneath it all, and there’s nothing we like more than a slut who reforms and apologizes for her naughty behavior. Megan Fox is a noted non-apologizer. So for all these reasons, America liked Scream because Daddy said it was okay, and America hated Jennifer’s Body because mouthy sluts made it and they better learn their place.
Sean: Well, Ginger Snaps comes with zero baggage in terms of its stars, writers and director, and so should be really easy to evaluate on its own merits, right? I’m guessing that one of the reasons you had a bit of an eye-rolling reaction to Ginger Snaps was that, unlike Jennifer’s Body’s ironic distance, Ginger Snaps is bleeding-heart-on-its-sleeve sincere. Ginger Snaps takes its own feelings very, very seriously and it is also goth and it wants you to know that. The movie doesn’t seem to be aware of how ridiculous its characters are in the way Jennifer’s Body is.
Kristine: Except for Mimi Rogers’ performance as the mom, who I loved and thought was great, by the way. And even she had some heartfelt, if insane, moments. I loved her and her spit curls and her seasonal hair accessories so much.
Sean: I totally agree that Rogers steals the movie in every scene she’s in. I actually loved how the mother/daughter relationship was taken seriously and sweetly by the movie. It mocked Rogers’ mother character, but also sided with her. I was impressed by that refusal to fully caricature the mom. Also, her hair ties were ridic.
Kristine: I agree that the movie is not mean-spirited at all in its gentle satire of the suburban mother figure, which was really refreshing. I loved when she was like, “We’ll burn down the house and start over… Who cares about Dad?” Her total commitment to and interest in her daughters was just… nice to see. Oh my god, and that Dad.
Sean: I loved how the dad was just window dressing, just a guy in a sweater raking the yard and not understanding any of what’s going on around him. But he also wasn’t painted as a buffoon, which was important I thought. He’s just, a man. And thus, not that interesting or important.
Kristine: I agree. This is a lady show.
Sean: This is the first movie for “Women on the Verge Month” that is actually co-written by a woman, by the way. We’ve watched 75 horror movies since we started this project. Other than this movie and Jennifer’s Body, only 5 of the films have female writers or co-writers. But those five are surprising: Thirst, Deep Blue Sea, The Shining, Halloween and Dead Alive. That’s it. And most of those movies don’t have anything approaching a “female sensibility,” which I would argue Jennifer’s Body and Ginger Snaps both have (Thirst might qualify… I’m not sure). And I don’t mean to be a gender essentialist. I think some of the films we’ve watched that were written by men DO have a female sensibility to them (namely May but also Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! and Daughters of Darkness).
Sean: Do you think it showed that a woman co-wrote this?
Kristine: I do, actually, in the relationship between the sisters (who might as well have been lovers). The movie definitely taps into something raw and true about both the intensity of affection between sisters but also the rivalry and subsumed aggression.
Sean: I was curious if you thought the Ginger/Brigitte connection was convincing.
Kristine: I did, definitely. Though I think they overdid Brigitte stomping around in her orthopedic shoes, peeping through her curtain of hair.
Sean: When Ginger turns against Brigitte, it reminded me of friends doing that to me in middle school, just icing you out for no reason one day. Adolescence is filled with those arbitrary banishments.
Kristine: Absolutely. Especially when it came to boys, but you could be iced out for any reason. I remember doing the icing out, too, and thinking it was very justified.
Sean: Was Brigitte a sympathetic protagonist? Or was she too ugly to be sympathetic?
Kristine: Eh. The ugliness and weirdness did not help her cause. When Ginger was breaking away, part of me was like, “Good! You need to break away from that freak.” That’s one of the things of this movie, right? That Ginger is becoming this monster… but she is also becoming “normal,” going from an isolated and anti-social personality to one that is connected to the world around her. This is one of the rare monster movies that portrays the transformation into the monster as something that brings you into the world, as opposed to cutting you off from it. In the movie, Ginger getting her period is the moment when she begins getting interested in other people besides Brigitte. I loved the shift in her character towards the end of the movie when she says, “I don’t want to die in this room,” when dying in that room had been the plan until that moment.
Sean: Hmmm…. I have to say I found Brigitte to be sort of endearing in her genuine awkwardness. It was not some ingénue dressed up as a misfit (see Amanda Seyfried in Jennifer’s Body). She was a legit weirdo. But one of the things I like about the movie is this delineation between pubescent and pre-pubescent platonic girl friendships and the way that the movie poses pubescence as this shitstorm that just hits and destroys the bonds between girls.
Kristine: Oh, I agree with that 100%.
Sean: I mean, this is something the horror genre is uniquely positioned to dramatize, these confrontations with our own changing bodies. When Ginger is like, puking blood and gore into the toilet (total eating disorder imagery) or growing these thick, yellowy finger- and toenails or sprouting tufts of thick hair all over her body, you just realize how much of the “monster” in monster movies is us confronting ourselves dressed up in monster drag. Or when Ginger is suddenly macking on disgusting boys that she had previously ridiculed with Brigitte… I have to say, when I was a preteen/teen that was the ultimate betrayal by a girl friend, if she suddenly was all over some boy that we’d made fun of together. I think more than one friendship ended or was put in jeopardy by that… But part of my reaction was obviously jealousy because I was this alienated, isolated queer kid who had no options for making out with boys, even gross ones. All I had were my girl companions. I remember feeling like, “But we were in this together” and that she had defected to the other side and left me out in the cold. But I also remember being like, “If you’re going to completely betray our friendship, at least do it for someone who is cute.” Actually, if he was cute, it wasn’t a betrayal; it was life.
Kristine: Well, I was just wondering (and I don’t think either of us know the answer) but I think that hetero guy friendships are different. Based on my impressions from teenagedom, it always seemed like guys who were less mature, more childlike, were still allowed to hang with their guy friends who were killin’ it with the ladies and becoming “men,” maybe in more of a mascot-type role, but not isolated and mocked like late-blooming females. Boy world always seemed like a realitvely comfortable amalgam of boys and manchildren. Do you think this is true?
Sean: Weird and jinx. I was just thinking about how different it is to put the werewolf story in a female context.
Kristine: I was going to ask you about that.
Sean: Because the plight of becoming a sexual being for a straight boy seems fraught in a totally different way than for a girl. It doesn’t alienate you from your peers, right?
Kristine: I think this movie has two interlocking messages that you just hit on: 1. Bodies as source of horror and alienation, from yourself and others and 2. Turning into a monster as a metaphor for the onset of puberty. Neither of these are new for horror movies, so what do you think sets Ginger Snaps apart? Is it just by setting the werewolf story in the world of girls?
Sean: Well, yeah, I think that how the movie links female sexuality to the werewolf mythos is what makes it feel “new” and actually totally astute because of the blood and body-change stuff we associate with female pubescence. I mean, horror movies figuring women as monsters is nothing new. It’s one of the original tropes of horror cinema, from classic Universal monster movies like The Bride of Frankenstein or Dracula’s Daughter or She-Wolf of London, to 1940s RKO pics like Cat People, to the spate of hilariously bad B-movies in the 1950s such as The Astounding She-Monster, The She-Creature or Voodoo Woman. Though obviously Ginger Snaps is much more in the vein of female “body horror” movies like Carrie and The Exorcist that confront the “polluted” female body on much grislier, more psychosexual terms. In fact, if Jennifer’s Body owes a huge debt to Ginger Snaps, then Ginger Snaps owes a similar debt to Carrie in linking monstrous female power with menstruation, pubescence and incipient sexuality. But I think this movie sympathizes with Ginger and overall is interested in the female as subject rather than horrific object. That is what feels radical or groundbreaking about this movie, to me. The movie very astutely calls our attention to how a boy can “turn” and “ravage” girls and it doesn’t jeopardize his social standing, but the stakes for a girl are so different. If the teenage girl “ravages” boys, the entire way she is perceived shifts. Right?
Kristine: Sure, first positively, then negatively.
Sean: Right. That slow-mo shot of the “new, improved” Ginger all hot-footing it down the hallway at school was hilarious. At first it’s like, now she’s a sexpot. Go!
Kristine: The slow-mo make-over shot down the school hallway is such a classic trope, especially of the re-invented girl. So many movies are obsessed with the moment when a girl realizes her sexual power, that she can draw attention by drawing people’s gazes. But very few of them ever question what the psychological stakes are for a girl who participates in her own objectification like that. It’s like, very “Pandora’s box” – once a girl opens that can of worms, a whole shit show can ensue because society is so punitive with girls who are aggressively sexual (which brings us back to the hatred of Megan Fox or, more topically for now, Kristen Stewart).
Sean: Yeah, I still think this movie is afraid of female sexuality, isn’t it? Or just afraid of sex, in general. I mean, making lycanthropy into an STD is both hilarious and also kind of terrifyingly anti-sex. It seems very AIDS-crisis-y for a movie released in the year 2000.
Kristine: Right. But I think it is complicated, because when Ginger & Brigitte are refusing puberty (it seems that their lateness to menstruate is like, a conscious decision) they are presented as not happy. Well, that’s not entirely true. They are, in some ways, happy in their self-created world, but only because they hate/fear the “other” – growing up, being “normal”. That’s how this movie and the Ginger/Brigitte relationship reminded me a lot of Heavenly Creatures, especially the montages of their photography project where they stage themselves dying in all these grisly and horrible ways.
Sean: Oh, total Heavenly Creatures. And I think you’re right that Ginger and Brigitte are depicted at the start of the movie in a state of prelapsarian bliss, but that its also such a death-obsessed relationship that it feels “unhealthy.” The way they band together and cling to one another is excessive and “bad for them.” This is what you were referring to earlier when you said the characters might as well have been lovers rather than sisters, because their physical and emotional intimacy is so intense.
Kristine: Also, remember that when Ginger pulls away from Brigitte, it gives Brigitte the chance to come into her own. For instance, it suddenly opens up space in her life to develop a friendship with the drug dealer, Sam (who was a very stupid character, by the way). Remember when their mother tells Brigitte, “I’m glad you are being more independent, instead of following your sister around and doing whatever she tells you to do”? There’s something about the movie’s attitude that female friendships that are “too intense” are bad for you that both rings true but also troubles me. Sisterhood in this movie is so toxic, it sometimes seems to be making an argument about the inevitability of heterosexuality, that if a girl knows what’s good for her, she’ll leave behind her sisters and girl friends and figure out how to make it in the world of boys.
Sean: Yes, but I, for one, read Brigitte as a total baby dyke, which complicates that narrative of inevitability. I guess the fact that we’re grounded in Brigitte’s perspective for a lot of the movie is really key to figuring out what the movie’s perspective is on the issue of female sexuality. I do not read any sexual tension between her and Sam, the drug dealer, even though Ginger keeps framing their friendship as potentially sexual.
Kristine: Oh, not at all, on either side.
Sean: Brigitte is a total dykette, right?
Kristine: I think so.
Sean: Which I think makes the movie even weirder in terms of its sexual politics, because one of the inferences of Ginger’s plight, for Brigitte, is that this is going to happen to her one day soon. If we look at Ginger from the perspective of Brigitte-as-latent-queer-girl, then doesn’t heterosexuality itself become the entire horror story? Because Brigitte is pre-sexual, it seems like Ginger’s plight is, if nothing else, a polemic against heterosexuality.
Kristine: Yes, the inference is that it will happen to her one day, but I think she knows she won’t be like Ginger, even when that happens. One way of reading that difference between the girls is that Brigitte is queer, and thus immune to the specific kind of hell that Ginger’s sexuality manifests as.
Sean: But then Brigitte purposefully “infects” herself and ends the movie infected, so I’m not quite sure what to do with that…
Kristine: Remind me, how did she purposely infect herself? I don’t remember that.
Sean: She is like, ‘Fine’ and cuts her hand and rubs her sister’s blood into her wound to prove her loyalty to Ginger and to honor their death pact at the beginning.
Kristine: I thought that was also a ploy to get Ginger to trust her, since Brigitte knew she had the antidote. But your read makes more sense.
Sean: I mean, the fanatical loyalty between the sisters is both touching and perverse…
Kristine: Remember when Trina, the mean lacrosse girl (who was hideously ugly, by the way), pushes Brigitte into the mutilated dog corpse and then Ginger is like, “Do you want me to kill her? I will, I will!“ I loved that. I also liked their united front against their ridiculous parents. The bond between the sisters was the total best part of the movie.
Sean: So I just wanted to point out that I feel like the way the movie plays around with dogs is part of the movie’s gender subversion. We all know the old adages about gender (men are from Mars, women are from Venus, dogs vs. cats, etc.). If the dog is often regarded as a symbol of masculinity, I like the way the movie populates this world with slaughtered dog bodies. But also transfers “dogness” onto the girls, thereby queering them.
Kristine: I was wondering if the doggie bodies upset you… A quick aside – Ginger’s foxy wolf look when she is mid-transformation at the Halloween Bash made me want to die.
Sean: It’s weird. Normally violence against dogs DOES bother me, but since dogs were such an important symbolic motif in this movie, it didn’t. But yes, Ginger’s skanky Headbanger’s Ball wolf-lady look was over the top insanity. I loved that cunty Trina has that huge Rottweiler; it is the ultimate image of a woman with male power on a leash, at her disposal. But ultimately, it doesn’t/can’t protect her, because male power means very little in this universe.
Kristine: Right, right. I get what you are saying and I think that you are right, but I have all these petty complaints that bothered me during the movie that I know are not important but still. Like how could Trina have her Rottweiler with her at school? And really with the drug dealer and the teens hanging out in the parking lot in his van? Those things just made me roll my eyes and I had a hard time taking the movie seriously.
Sean: I have a defense of this movie’s vanilla drug dealer character…. Well, not a defense so much as an explanation: This movie is Canadian.
Kristine: I didn’t know that. Umm, that actually explains a lot.
Kristine: Do you think it is significant that Brigitte goes to Sam for help with her problem, rather than a woman? Wouldn’t it make more sense for her to seek out a powerful female, like the witchy spellshop owner in The Craft?
Sean: Well, I think the whole thing with Brigitte is that girls don’t make any sense to her. Even if she’s not a baby dyke, she’s an ultimate tomboy. Sam is approachable because of how Brigitte is, and because of her own sense of alienation from “the feminine.” I hear this a lot from my female students, that they prefer guy friendships because it’s just a huge relief to be free of “the feminine.” I mean, I have a lot of problems with that idea/attitude, but it is a thing. Plus, if you’re going to talk werewolf lore with someone, it will probably be a teenaged boy.
Kristine: Also, remember Brigitte’s friendship with the janitor. When he saves her from the dude in the closet, and hands her the rag in the locker room, both times she is just like “thanks” (“bro”). That seems like a masculine way of communicating, not feminine. Also, Ginger’s intense protection of Brigitte is always predicated on this assumed heterosexuality… she thinks both the janitor and Sam want to molest Brigitte, while Brigitte herself doesn’t even seem to see that as a possibility. She doesn’t feel threatened by those male characters, not because she is naïve, but because… it’s not an issue for her the way it is for Ginger or other girls. To add to my list of petty complaints, I thought the “cure” thing was so dumb. And why didn’t they just whip up one big batch instead of having to make it each time? Oy vey.
Sean: It was dumb.
Kristine: I did love how the mom’s dried flowers for her ridiculous home decor projects figured into the plot, though (which also underscored the relevance of female/maternal power). All the skewering of suburbia was pretty funny and right on. I laughed and laughed at the fat kid permanently in his hockey costume, playing with the dog who latches onto his hockey stick. By the way, don’t you think that was showing how even these little, cutesy dogs have a killer instinct and want to destroy?
Sean: Plus, I think it’s significant that there IS a female figure of power in the movie, constantly trying to connect with Brigitte; her mother. But Brigitte will have none of it, though they do connect in the car after mom has found the dead body.
Kristine: Fingers in the Tupperware.
Sean: I know. The mom’s totally practical and anal-retentive way of dealing with the murder is great.
Kristine: And protecting the girls from the dad….
Sean: Yes, though the dad is no real threat right? Just the idea of M.A.L.E (Masculine Authoritarian Logical Examiner) [Editor’s note: see our Frenzy discussion for more on the M.A.L.E] power – the cops, the law, etc
Kristine: But even still, mom doesn’t want him to know…anything.
Kristine: I loved when the girls show their film in class, and the teacher is gobsmacked. He knows he has to say something but doesn’t know what. And I thought it was telling that all the male students in class were into the grossness of the film but the girls were all, eww. Again, this shows how the Fitzgerald sisters are alienated from traditional femininity. Another thing, Sean… The Fitzgerald Sisters? Too much.
Sean: Yeah, in the sequel Brigitte goes to college and befriends these identical boy twins called the Hemingway Brothers.
Kristine: You’re a liar.
Sean: Fine, that’s a lie. But it could be the truth, which is my point.
Kristine: They might as well have been called the Salinger sisters. Or the Plath sisters.
Sean: I think it’s noteworthy that this movie does seem to be engaged with feminist ideas or at least feminist awareness, while so many other teen girl horror movies from the same general time period do not. Like, even though it dresses itself up in feminist clothing, The Craft is just a patriarchal message-movie. And The Craft paired with Ginger Snaps is the ultimate angsty teen girl outcast double feature. Remember how you felt let down by The Craft‘s shitty gender politics? Did you feel let down with this movie?
Kristine: No, I didn’t feel that way about this one. For all this movie’s flaws, I do think it has a feminist viewpoint and some interesting things to say about what it means to be a girl. And the Mimi Rogers mom character and how she is handled by the movie scores it huge anti-misogyny points. But I do find it interesting that any movie we’ve watched so far that seems to purport itself as feminist or post-feminist horror (May, this movie, The Craft, Jennifer’s Body) are all focused on the girl-as-monster motif. What would a movie with a feminist sensibility that depicted a bunch of girl protagonists fighting off a male monster actually look like?
Sean: It’s a good question, and sadly I can’t think of a great example off the top of my head. But back to your earlier point about the film, I agree about the movie’s attitude towards “normative” girlhood. Before she is bitten, Ginger is anti-feminine, covered in shapeless trenchcoats, making horror photography projects with her sister, glowering anti-socially at everybody. This movie posits “traditional femininity” (showing your body off in a certain way, being “pretty” and shit, becoming a “social creature”) as horrific. When Ginger begins to conform to the cultural norms for girls that she’d previously rejected, it spells disaster for her and her relationship with Brigitte.
Kristine: I agree with that. Which IS problematic as hell. For this movie to basically argue that sexuality in general and femininity specifically are horrific is not my favorite. This just echoes something that’s been a big part of the cultural conversation ever since the Twilight franchise became ridiculously popular – that any traditional representation of girls and their desires is like, somehow lame or disgusting or fucked up. I don’t like that idea. I mean, when Ginger gets her slow-mo shot down the hallway at school, for me that IS an empowering moment and it’s not about the fact that she looks “hot” to all the guys now. A big part of that moment is about becoming comfortable and confident in the world and in your own skin, leaving behind the unhealthy isolation of her self-imposed exile and also, of course, feeling sexy. And I don’t like that the movie suggests that by presenting herself as more feminine, Ginger is now “fallen.” What is wrong with cute skirts and hair products and being girly? According to this movie… well, a lot. This movie sides with Brigitte, who is totally disconnected from her body, who wears burlap sacks and has filthy hair. No wonder fanboys love this movie. It confirms all their worst ideas about women – that those girls out there wearing slinky clothes and “hot-footing it down the hallway” are really just monstrous cunts, and the only girl you can trust is one who…. Well, who acts like a boy. Plus, the girls themselves are asked to dread femininity. Since their mother is the one urging the sisters into puberty, there seems to be an underlying threat that by becoming women, they will become their mothers and there is no worse fate for these two. An aside – I wonder if there are lots of girls who grew up watching horror, like you, but then felt like they had to “give it up” with other childish things when they hit puberty. That once they became women, they had to find horror gross and icky, like how girls are expected to find math boring or baseball confusing.
Sean: I totally agree about your mother point. This movie doesn’t offer the girls any vision of what they might become that appeals to their misfit side. It can’t dream up any unconventional – and who knows, maybe even feminine – adult women who could serve as possible role models for the girls. And Ginger is this polluted body for most of the movie, passing “the curse” to that ugly boy through sexual contact. I mean, we are meant to be horrified by Ginger and by a certain kind of confident female sexual power, right?
Kristine: Address the genderfuck of Ginger becoming a woman, but growing this phallic tail that she tries to hack off.
Sean: Oh god the tail. I love the tail a lot.
Kristine: My favorite tail appearance is when Brigitte throws back the sheets and there it is, twitching under Ginger’s panties. Wicked phallic.
Sean: The image of her parading around in her silk panties with that dick of a tail hanging out is so perverse. I love it.
Kristine: It was a great prosthetic. But I found the rest of the effects in the movie to be lacking, by the way.
Sean: Yeah, the werewolf effects in Ginger Snaps are wack. The werewolf is just grey livermeat with hair glued on it.
Kristine: I know what would have made the movie more fun for me, though also more clichéd and less realistic. It was missing the scene where the girls have fun with Ginger’s new power (á la The Craft). The sex scene with that grody guy and the killing of Trina and the janitor are all dour and fraught with fear and misery. There is no brief interlude when the sisters can be like, “Oh man this is awesome.”
Sean: But that’s totally standard for all werewolf movies (except Teen Wolf). Remember in An American Werewolf in London, David’s “disease” is always horrific and never enjoyable. This movie reads werewolfism as a curse with no silver lining.
Kristine: As is womanhood.
Sean: I just want to give a shout-out to that square nurse explaining the biology of menstruation to the horrified sisters.
Kristine: Oh yeah, that was great.
Sean: Black sludge.
Kristine: All true, by the way.
Sean: I am cherishing my penis right now. Imagine if tomorrow I woke up and black sludge was oozing out of my penis?
Kristine: Shut it. I have a question about the mom. Her quickness to want to skip town, leave the dad, etc. Do you think this was just to protect her daughters? Because I think she was dying for a reason to leave Squaresville behind and embrace the inner freak that both the sisters are so scared of. Which reminds me of May… these girls think they are soooo out there and non-normative, but when something truly fucking bizarre comes along they can’t handle it. They are not badasses like they think; they are scared of womanhood, of everything.
Sean: I did see it as protective-mom-mode, but I also saw it not so much as her dying to leave Squaresville behind, but very easily admitting that none of it means anything, that the suburban life she’s living has no real value and so is just easy to walk away from.
Sean: The scene of Brigitte locking Ginger in the bathroom? That scene played out a million times in my own childhood, with either me locking my sister in or out of the bathroom or vice versa. I remember once pooping and my sister like banged on the bathroom door really violently and was like “Hurry up” and so when I was done I just put on the radio and hummed loudly and was like, ”I’m never coming out.” And my sister was banging on the door and going “You’re dead” But then she innovated how to pick the bathroom door lock with a butter knife and so I had to go back to the drawing board.
Sean: So can you imagine the goth orgasms had by all the teens watching Ginger Snaps when it first came out? All the alienated teens?
Kristine: Yes, and that’s part of what annoyed me about it.
Kristine: Those girls are nothing to emulate.
Sean: But doesn’t the movie itself make that argument by the end? Doesn’t the werewolf plot expose their pretension and shallowness?
Kristine: Yeah, but you know goth kids just take what they want and don’t care about “the message.” That’s what I meant when I referenced May – these girls think they are badass and “the other”… until they actually meet the other.
Sean: Right, but in May, the woman IS the other and the real deal. I guess we never know the gender of the original werewolf who attacks Ginger in this movie, but I find it fascinating that I think we all assume it was male.
Kristine: Right. God, May is such a better movie. Don’t you think?
Sean: I don’t know, I enjoyed this movie a million times more now than the first time I saw it.
Kristine: Really? Why do you think?
Sean: Well, for one I knew the werewolf FX were going to suck balls so I wasn’t preoccupied with that and could focus on other things. I don’t know, let me revisit my notes.
Kristine: Yeah, the effects really disappointed me. Except for Mr. Tail.
Sean: OMG, one of the sisters’ fake suicide notes in the beginning says “Mom, please bury me in this dress.” I just got a huge kick out of it.
Kristine: Well, I found this movie to be a letdown. Especially because a high school setting with cliques and mean girls and drugs and alienation automatically puts it ahead with me, I love all that shit. But this was a big letdown.
Sean: At the beginning also, when Brigitte and Ginger are talking about the wild animal killing all the neighborhood dogs, Brigitte says “Why can’t they catch this thing in a place full of dead ends?” Brigitte is like, Hamlet.
Kristine: The beginning was the best part, no doubt. The beginning and Mimi Rogers. The beginning had all the best lines and the most accurate depiction of female friendship.
Sean: I WAS hoping the goth-girl shenanigans would warm your heart. But I’d forgotten that your heart is made of black pitch. And also, since you watched this movie under the malicious glare of the male gaze of your boyfriend, you capitulated.
Kristine: Shut up.
Sean: You were all, I have to hate this movie to impress my boyfriend.
Kristine: Oh my god you are such a monster.
Sean: I am pleased with myself.
Kristine: I’m glad you are happy.
The Girl’s Rating: This is a horror classic because… why, exactly? AND Maybe if I was in high school I would feel differently. MAYBE.
The Freak’s Rating: Better than I remembered! AND Bloody wonderful genderfuck.