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GINGER SNAPS (2001)

 Directed by John Fawcett

Starring Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabelle

A stunning teen angst/werewolf film from 2001, this was the best lycanthrope movie since "An American Werewolf in London." Director Fawcett hit the silver bullet right on the head with this tale that compares puberty to werewolfism.  Two depressed high school students, mousey Brigette (Perkins) and Ginger (Isabelle) have been the closest of friends since childhood. The older one is Ginger (Isabelle), who's just coming of age. While the two talk depression and suicide in their room together, some creature is killing off the dogs in their dull suburban neighborhood.

Naturally, Ginger goes out one night and is attacked by the creature. After the monster is accidentally run over by the local drug dealer, Ginger and sis sneak home, only to realize that Ginger's wounds seem to be miraculously healing themselves. In the days that follow, Ginger starts acting stranger and stranger. The school nurse just thinks her period has started, but her little sis starts noticing something strange - Ginger is apparently growing a tail.

What starts off as an offbeat teen comedy in the vein of "Welcome to the Dollhouse" or "Election" slowly descends into full-on horror as Ginger gradually transforms into something appropriating a werewolf, the closer the days get to a full moon. While the girls' doting mother (played remarkably well by Mimi Rogers) tries to remedy the situation by talking to her daughters about sex and the school nurse throws condoms at the problem, Perkins uses her drug dealer contact to come up with an herbal remedy.

Cynical horror fans may view the opening half of this movie as little more than a teen comedy that, granted, works as a dark laugh fest about troubled pubescents. But don't fool yourself: the last gasp of this movie is one long fear freak out. Unlike other leading fear films from 2001, such as "Jeepers Creepers" and "Session 9," "Ginger Snaps" has an ending truly kicks ass..

Shot in Canada on a shoestring, "Ginger" was one of the funniest, cleverest and finest horror films of 2001. Sadly it only saw a brief and limited theatrical run in the U.S. before heading to video. The kind of comedy/fear flicks that really needs to be seen with an audience for maximum impact, it was the most original genre film since "The Blair Witch Project." I dare call it a classic.

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