Cult Classics: Ginger Snaps Discussion, Part 1 of 3

15 Nov

This Halloween, I watched a lot of horror films, as people often do around Halloween. Netflix Instant Play was awash with them (although regrettably only Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning is on Instant Play right now. I had to find the other two movies elsewhere). I got the idea to talk about the Ginger Snaps movies because I pretty much marathoned them the week before Halloween. And so I begin with Ginger Snaps, the John Fawcett directed movie that began it all in 2000. I apologize if this takes a turn for the obnoxious. Graduate school is ruining me/making me awesome.

I have to preface this by saying I am slightly in love with Emily Perkins. She is everything Winona Ryder wanted to be in the 80s – a perfect combination of Veronica and Lydia.

Veronica from Heathers! Lydia from Beetlejuice! Brigitte from Ginger Snaps!

And she is perfect always. I mean always.

Eunice from She’s the Man!

I will also preface by saying I like werewolves. They’re scary because they could actually happen.

Now we will acknowledge that this movie (and really this series) is flawed. There are times that it contradicts itself or is just completely illogical. For instance, the premise makes little to no sense.

First, “Out by 16 or dead in the scene, but together forever.” What “scene” exactly are Brigitte and Ginger imagining when they are (or ONE of them is) eight years old? It’s a terrible pact as far as rhyming goes. It’s no “Remember, remember the 5th of November” anyway.

Second, IF you’re planning to kill yourself by 16 because suicide is “the ultimate fuck you,” how is it fair to make your deadline about age? Brigitte is almost 15 when Ginger is almost 16 so Brigitte is being cheated out of a year of her life.

IF they are a year apart, how are they both three years late menstruating? (Do not even get me started on the parallels between Ginger Snaps and Carrie. That is an entire post of its own).

On a random note, if you want to keep your period a secret, why would you put bloody panties in the laundry your mother does?

I could go on… but I think we all get the point.

With that out of the way, we can discuss the movie in terms of its own rules, not in terms of logical ones.

Again, we go back to the premise – two sisters who want to stay together forever and are obsessed with death, staging their own deaths constantly. Now let’s talk about Harold and Maude. Then let’s talk about The Virgin Suicides. Let’s even talk about Heathers! How is wanting to die or faking death remotely subversive in the year 2000?

Ginger Dead on a Fence Post

IS it subversive in a comedy, especially one that relies so subtly (dare I say elegantly?!?!?!) on camp humor? Maybe it’s different because it’s a werewolf movie. If the werewolf is the repressed part of the human psyche that only surfaces during the full moon, does it automatically destabilize? How dare we take liminal spaces for granted! In Ginger Snaps, we can’t because it’s a horror movie. Balance is not restored. In fact, it’s even more permanent than say, The Howling (1981, dir. Joe Dante)Once you start to turn, you can’t go back. It’s more like Wolf (1994, dir. Mike Nichols), except that the resulting transformation doesn’t come down to whether or not you have the personality/sexual prowess of Jack Nicholson or James Spader. There is no convincing Michelle Pfeifer (OR BELLA!?!?) to embrace the fantastic. The other side should ALWAYS be caged and repressed, and here we reinforce our norms… except it’s also a comedy. So maybe we don’t.*

Then again, maybe you can go back. There is a “cure,” which seems to work on a classmate who is infected.**  Now let’s talk about this cure because it’s not a curse reversal. There is no “kill the werewolf who bit you” nonsense.*** “Right, see, biology! Now there’s something you can sink your teeth into. So to speak. You’re real. Your problem’s real. The solution’s real. Not bam death by morality call.” The mythos of this movie is based on science! JK would have a fit because Severus Snape could cure metaphorical fantasy HIV! Problematic allegory=Ruined. When magic becomes science, the lines between fantasy and science fiction become blurred, and in my book genre bending is usually a win. Praise Jesus that Brigitte’s non-boyfriend deals drugs & knows how to cook that stuff up!

Corn syrup! Want to taste, daddy?


Speaking of non-boyfriend, we venture on to gender presentation. This movie hits almost every point of stereotypical feminist critique.  A guy gets laid, but a girl is a lay. Ginger beats up on every guy who looks twice at Brigitte, and Sam is a “cherry hound.” Cramping really hurts. “No one ever thinks chicks do shit like this. Trust me. A girl can only be a slut, bitch, tease or the virgin next door. We’ll just coast on how the world works. [beat] Think she’s pretty?” And so on. It’s very entertaining. So how is it NOT typical? How about the fact that Sam is not Brigitte’s lover man? After he hears she’s growing a tail, he doesn’t seem so excited, and he makes a point of telling Brigitte he doesn’t think of her like that (Compare to Ron Weasley’s reaction upon seeing Hermione Granger’s tail after she accidentally adds Millicent Bulstrode’s cat’s hair to her polyjuice potion…) If that’s not enough, what about when the boy starts starts bleeding from his nether regions? And so the Biblical curse is passed to the man via sexual relations.  Bam! The woman is not the only one punished for her sins. Although it may be worth noting that Ginger is punished just because she reaches puberty while that guy is punished for his actions. Therefore, a woman is again responsible for the fall of man (Grad ssssschool ruinsssssss usssss).

Critique: I know that it was for comedy, but I learned more about menstruation from this movie than I did from any health class I have ever taken. So simultaneous props and shudders. It was pretty gross. Query for discussion: Does this movie subvert the trope of werewolf curse & puberty in the coming of age horror story through comedy, or does it reinforce it?

Random: Isn’t Kris Lemche secretly Christian Slater? Heathers just keeps happening.

Christian Slater Smoking in Heathers and Kris Lemche Smoking in Ginger Snaps

I’m not going to talk extensively about it, but does everyone remember that scene in which Brigitte comes across the other werewolf guy literally trying to take candy from that kid? I find I want to laugh at the immediate joke while at the same time question the “big bad wolf” nature of the situation, considering how loaded the wolf is in fairy tales. Hilarious joke or comment about high school boy sexuality? Both? Eh? 

I also am not going to mention the very strange relationship that Brigitte and Ginger have with their parents. A lot happens there, and this post is probably already too long. I will ask this though: Why does Mrs. Fitzgerald take the tupperware container with the fingers in it into the greenhouse party? What is she planning to do?!?!? It’s the loose end I will never forgive.

Okay. I know you’ve all been so impatient for this to end, if you have even read this far. We just have one more really important issue – the werewolves’ appearances!

Werewolf Ginger in Ginger Snaps

For some reason as Ginger becomes more and more of a lycan, her hair runs from “ginger” to white. Maybe there is something to great power turning hair lighter/white (Rogue, Storm, Goku… ) I had a bit of an issue with this because it didn’t really make sense when comparing Ginger to other lycans. Plus as a werewolf she doesn’t have hair all over her body, nor did the other werewolves in the movie. During the actual transformation, however, she has hair all over her, growing in places it shouldn’t be growing. She also transforms differently than the other transforming werewolf in the movie. That guy comes off more like James Spader in Wolf.  Ginger kind of looks like a Klingon.

Klingon Ginger from Ginger Snaps

I don’t really like it. How do you feel about it?

Anyway, I’m done now. Anticipate the next two soon.



*Discuss! That’s the purpose of this blog! Yay!

** To be discussed further in part 2 of 3

***To be discussed in part 3 of 3

PS One more picture of Emily Perkins? In front of all the feminine products? Eeeeh?


2 Responses to “Cult Classics: Ginger Snaps Discussion, Part 1 of 3”

  1. jaimee August 15, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

    Great!!!! why did sam die though? and i dont think he was ‘turned off cause bridget had a tail, he was much older and just said he didnt like her that way cause ginger said she was leaving, ….

    “watch out, he may rap you when i’m gone.” he was just defending himself saying.
    “i dont like you that way.” he just was saying that cause ginger said such a mean thing, and was reashuring her of him motives.

    But i wish they made a alt ending where Kris Lemche didnt die cause he dies in every movie he has ever been in. .,,,, really he does….. u should look it up lol well my rant is getting as long as ur’s so bye. 🙂 great job, keep it up.

    u can email me if you have an answer to my question 🙂

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