Let’s talk about Teen Wolf for a few minutes. Not that claw and fang soap opera on MTV that your high school cousin watches, but the REAL Teen Wolf. 1985, particularly the summer of 1985 was a good moment in history for Michael J. Fox. Back to the Future was in theaters making about a billion dollars — okay, more like $400 million, but still a lot — and on top of that he had a second hit movie just a month after its release with Teen Wolf. Not bad for a guy who at the time was mostly known for being in Family Ties.
Teen Wolf could have easily died a horrible death at the box office and been a blow to Fox’s Back to the Future cash train. The film’s writer Jeph Loeb and director Rod Daniel were both relativity green, and on paper a movie about a high school kid who becomes a werewolf and is really good at basketball sounds pretty stupid. Teen Wolf didn’t ruin Fox’s box office cred, though, and actually did incredibly well, turning its $1 million budget into $33 million at the box office. It hasn’t been embraced by pop culture history nearly as well as the Back to the Future franchise, but still pops up on cable now and then. I always enjoyed the movie and usually watch at least 20 minutes or so when I run across it, but there’s always been something that bothered me a little: how is Teen Wolf not immediately captured by the authorities? Let’s explore this obvious small town cover-up for the movie’s 30th anniversary.
Michael J. Fox plays Scott Howard, a high school kid living in Any Town, USA with his single father. He’s a mediocre basketball player who plays on the school team with that guy who played John Wayne Gacy in a TV movie, and constantly brushes off the neighborhood girl who’s crushing on him. That right there obviously isn’t cause for any government concern, but it’s not long before Scott’s wild side rears its ugly head.
“Give me a keg of beer.”
Scott’s much cooler than him, but still trying way too hard when his friend Styles is trying to score a keg of beer for the party and having no luck. If they don’t bring a full keg they’ll be turned away like losers and miss out on the party’s PG sex games and have to wait until another time to rub up on their female classmates. Major bummer, dude. At first the cashier rudely brushes Scott off, but when Scott’s voice goes into demonic mode and his eyes turn red he immediately gets the beer. Okay, so he’s not a wolf at this point, but 20 bucks says that old man would have been on the phone with the police as soon as Scott walked out the door and he changed his underwear. We never see that old man again, so maybe Scott went back and finished him off before he had a chance to go blubbering to the town sheriff. Yeah, that makes sense, moving on…
The wolf can dunk.
As stated earlier, Scott’s basketball skills don’t exactly have him drowning in a sea of panties after the game. The entire team sucks pretty hard really, and the coach is just hanging around for the paycheck. When Scott dives for the ball and everyone dives on top of him though, he can’t help himself and goes full wolfman. Do people run screaming for their lives? Nope, they freeze and watch as Teen Wolf charges down the court and dunks the ball like he was a player in NBA Jam. Everybody then goes back to the game and Scott continues to dunk the ball about a dozen more times with nobody even bothering to maybe at least call the local news because A WEREWOLF IS PLAYING BASKETBALL AND HE’S FREAKIN’ KILLING IT! This performance of course instantly transforms Scott into the coolest guy in school and provides Styles with a lucrative Teen Wolf merchandise business.
The press picks up the story.
Here we see future John Wayne Gacy happily reading a newspaper about the werewolf walking his high school’s hallways, so the media has caught on by now, right? Not exactly, this is only the school paper, there’s never any indication about the story ever making its way outside of the high school. What the hell is going on in this town that local news can’t be bothered to send over a reporter to find out how a monster is now on the basketball team?! This should have easily made national headlines across the world. I mean, at the very least you know that Teen Wolf would have carved himself out a permanent place in the now defunct Weekly World News. Also, you really gotta give it to Scott’s classmates, they’re generally very open-minded and show minimal prejudice about the whole werewolf situation.
Trouble at the bowling alley.
At this point in the movie Scott is in Teen Wolf mode nearly 24/7, he’s blown off sweet girl next door Boof, and is currently sleeping with hot two-timing Pamela. They’re at the bowling alley on a very busy Friday night and pretty much everyone except for Pamela’s boyfriend is oblivious to the fact that wolfman is throwing strikes like it’s nothing. When Pamela’s boyfriend confronts Scott, Scott gets pissed and throws a bowling ball. People appear to briefly pause, but nobody’s reacting like “Uh, there’s an angry werewolf here and sh*ts about to go down.” Even if a normal person hurls a bowling ball they’re at least going to be kicked out of the bowling alley, but a werewolf doing it would almost certainly incite a panic. Not in this town, though, just another Friday night.
Lawless van surfing.
Scott now flagrantly flaunts his wolf skills as much as possible and takes to the top of Style’s wolf mobile for a little van surfing. It’s a fact that every small town has at least one dickhead cop, but this town appears to be the exception with not a smokey in sight. Teen Wolf is free to play air guitar, do back flips, and perform headstands atop a moving vehicle without the authorities batting an eye. I can only assume they were off with the local media trying to control whatever disaster is so much more important than a teenage werewolf on the loose. Scott’s dad disapprovingly shakes his head, but overall, everyone is surprisingly chill about local teens risking their lives in broad daylight.
More trouble at the dance.
Before Scott shows up to the dance there’s a pretty goofy scene of him blow drying his wolf hair with a ripoff instrumental of The Bee Gee’s “Staying Alive” playing in the background. Upon arriving at the dance, Scott invents his own dance move and gets in a fight with Pamela’s boyfriend. For a split second, the crowd seems shocked for the first time ever at Scott’s werewolf behavior, but that quickly turns to laughter because “look at that guy who had his shirt ripped off hahahaha.”
The only other person who isn’t a fan of Teen Wolf is the assistant principal who threatens to make Scott’s life difficult, but then pees his pants when Scott’s father show’s up. If this had happened in 2015, Twitter would be abuzz with overreactions like “Some werewolf guy almost killed a dude at a high school, WTF?! #whatswrongwiththeworld.” But this is 1985, so people pretty much forgot about it by the next morning.
Scott ditches the wolf.
Teen Wolf single handily led his high school basketball team to the regional championships, but then decides he doesn’t need the wolf and wants to rely on good old-fashioned teamwork. Really, ballsy yet noble move there, bro. The entire school is there to watch the Beavers defeat the Dragons and watch Scott deliver the final ego blow to Pamela’s boyfriend, but there’s not a single Sports Illustrated reporter in sight. A high school kid who happens to also be a werewolf has NBA skills and college scouts can’t even bother to check the guy out. Why is this school trying to hide the most exciting thing that has ever happened to them?! Teen Wolf should have been on the cover of a Wheaties box and had an NBA contract waiting for him after graduation, but he gets nada. I never saw Teen Wolf Too, but I assume all of these question are answered and Scott is picked up by the government and sent to a lab for genetic testing before becoming an NBA star/wolf super soldier. Fill me in, that IS what happens, right guys?